Decide To Be Happy, And Be

“Decide what matters most to you, and do it.

Decide who matters most to you, and make time to spend with them.

Decide to be happy, and be.”

Hi, I’m Hailey from On the Side of Nine to Five (http://onthesideblog.com) I’m so excited to be guest-blogging on Beautifully Nutty today.  I saw that Melanie was looking for guest bloggers on Twitter and immediately jumped at the opportunity.  I love Melanie’s blog and outlook on life.

A huge part of the reason that I started my blog was to help myself find my own happiness through experiencing the things that I’m passionate about….food [eating, it, cooking it, baking it], fitness, friends, family, and traveling.  This didn’t come easily.  I really had to gain some perspective and think about why I wasn’t as happy as I could be.  There were things weighing me down, and I needed to get rid of them, so I’m going to chat with you today a few [of the many] ways I found my happy and stay happy every day.

Over the past few years, I have seen a few ups and downs.  No, nothing has been extremely traumatic.  In fact, I am so lucky.  I have wonderful family and friends.  I have a great job and I’m healthy.  So what, you may ask, could I possibly have to be down about?  I couldn’t pinpoint it, but I knew that I wasn’t as happy as I could be.  I was so hard on myself about exercise and constantly comparing myself to others.  I was always on such a rigid schedule and the moment that got thrown off, I was in a bad mood. I was constantly wondering why I was so down and out, and I finally came to the conclusion that my (un)happiness had nothing to do with any external elements.  My unhappiness came from within.  It came from dissatisfaction and insecurity.

When I finally realized this, I knew that I was the only person who could make a change. I was responsible for being an active participant in my own life.  I was responsible for creating the person I want to be, and while I think there’s always room for improvement and self-reflection is SO important, I’m getting close.  Of course I have moments of negativity and self-doubt – wouldn’t it be annoying if I didn’t? But those moments are becoming less, and less, and I wanted to share with you 5 of my favorite tips for happiness:

1. [Please] Stop comparing yourself to others.  We, women in particular, are constantly comparing ourselves to others.  She’s prettier. She’s skinner. She makes more money.  She has better clothes.  She has a boyfriend. The list could go on and on.  Stop punishing yourself for what you think you aren’t and praise yourself for what you are – AWESOME.   And on the flip-side stop being so hard on each other.   If your friend is trying to eat healthy don’t guilt her into eating the dessert you ordered at dinner.  That crazy person on the subway or walking down the street, try not to judge.  You don’t know their story and they don’t know yours.  Let’s stand by each other.

happiness is

2. Be your own best friend. I’ve always been a bit of a social butterfly, and up until a few years ago I always had a boyfriend.  When my boyfriend and I broke up, college ended and I moved to a new city, my social circle seemed to be incredibly small, and I didn’t know what to do with myself.  I became introverted and felt depressed when I was alone thinking about how much I wish I had someone to share those moments with. But in reality I was spending 24/7 wit the person who knew me the best – me! When I realized that I’m alright to hang out with I valued my alone time so much more and started experiencing things that I never thought I’d do.  I started running more and I went to the museum alone.  I sat for hours in a bakery eating absurd amounts of pastries and reading.  AND I started my blog!

happiness is 2

3. Love what you do.  Find your passion and experience it.  Maybe it’s in your 9-5 and maybe it’s not.  It’s okay if you’re job isn’t your #1 passion, although you should enjoy being there at least a bit. Find something you love to do outside of work that you can throw yourself into.  Maybe you take up photography or painting.  Or maybe you feel best taking a long walk.  If you love to do something, make the time to do it.  You will thank you later. Oh, and don’t be embarrassed of these things just go do them. Make time for you!

4. Be Gracious. There are always bumps in the road, and we’ve all experienced those dips, but when you’re at the lowest of the low try to find your silver lining.  There are things that are good in your life, even if it seems like there’s a gray cloud following you around.  In an attempt to have more gratitude for the good things in my life, I take five minutes at the end of every day to write down 1-3 things (or more on a great day) that I am grateful for.  It seems like a small task, but taking the time to be grateful helps us realize that through the bad, life is good.

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5. It’s OK to Say No.  I used to stress myself out trying to make decisions based on what I thought would make other people happy.  I would do things I didn’t really want to do and go places I didn’t really want to go.  I love making other people happy, it’s something that makes me feel best, and it’s important to take other people’s feelings into consideration. But life is busy right? You have friends from all different groups and you feel pressure to make time for everyone and everything, right? Yes it is SO important to make time for the people in your life, but there are only 24 hours in a day. By the time you sleep and work you’re left with approximately 5 hours (unless you’re a morning person) to do whatever it is that you want to do. So tonight, you’d rather stay home and watch a movie than go out for drinks? Do it! [Just don’t do it every time]  You’d rather go out with friends than go to a movie with another, do it. So do your best to see your loved ones but make sure you’re happy in the process.
These are just a few of many things that work for me.  Everyone has their own formula for happiness.  But if you can do one more thing for me that will significantly contribute to your happiness…be confident.  Walk away from this post and take on the day because you can.

Oh – and share with me, what’s your formula for happiness?
xoxo

Hailey

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Sugar Update From the Sky

Hello all! I’m writing from the air today as vacation begins TODAY! I’m about to watch The Great Gatsby and eat some oatmeal for breakfast (second breakfast really being I was up six hours ago and scarfed down a banana and some cereal already) so I’m going to keep this short and sweet for you all.

Speaking of sweet, I thought this would be the perfect time to update you on my sugar intake status. In case you missed it, I wrote a post nearly two weeks ago about how my refined sugar intake was starting to get ridiculously out of control. I decided to commit myself to limiting my refined sugar intake and focusing on only natural sugars in my diet for a while. You can read the full post here: Break the Sugar Addiction.

So how am I doing with it? Amazingly well! I have completely cut it out except for yesterday when I was absolutely starving at work and my only option was a chocolate chip cookie dough Larabar that I had in my purse.

My body is thanking me—my GI system really appreciates when I don’t eat the refined sugars. I also feel like I have higher amounts of energy as my body isn’t going through major blood sugar rollercoasters all day.

My go-to sweet treats right now (in moderation):

Even though it has only been just shy of two weeks, already my body is no longer craving sugar. In fact, I am noticing I am craving more salty foods, believe it or not!

My plan for refined sugar

Being that I am on vacation, and celebrating an anniversary nonetheless, I do plan on having a couple of sweet treats while I’m away. However, I am not going to let it get out of hand. Once I return home, I plan to continue leaving out the white sugars as much as possible, and limiting them only to special occasions.

To me, it’s worth it to cut out these sugars in order to stay healthy and to feel my best.

So, there you have it. Your brief update from up in the sky. The movie is about to start! Leo DiCaprio, here I come!

I can’t to fill you in on my vacation adventures when I get back. In the meantime, I have a handful of wonderful guest posts and one special one from myself as well! Have a fabulous weekend and a great week!

To those of you who decided to cut out or limit refined sugars with me, how is it going?! 

 

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The Healthy Living Summit 2013: Full Recap

Happy Tuesday! Guess what I’m doing tonight? Going to a spin class with Dara Torres! Not only is it my first spin class, but I get to meet an Olympian at the same time?! I am super pumped!

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Healthy Living Summit 2013

It’s time for some Healthy Living Summit recapping. I am bound and determined to squeeze this all into one post. Last year I broke it into four posts. It might get lengthy, but I think I can do it. Grab a cup of tea and settle in a comfy chair for this one.

Thursday

I snagged my Caroline from the airport as we both gave each other the girliest greeting ever with lots of shrieking and hugs. Caroline and I met last year at the Summit in Boston. We have kept in touch over the past year and have become the best of friends. I adore her.

caroline melanie

This was her first time in Minnesota so we checked a couple of touristy things off the list: a walk around Lake Calhoun and a trip to the Mall of America. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing in our comfies and went to bed early to rest up for the festivities that lay ahead.

Friday

Wild Harvest hosted a tour of their test kitchens and labs in Eden Prairie, MN. Wild Harvest was the gold sponsor for the Healthy Living Summit and is an organic food company. They are responsible for the brands Wild Harvest, Essential Everyday, Culinary Corner, among others. You have probably seen these brands in your grocery store.

Being that I am a dietitian, setting foot into their facilities and seeing their test kitchens and labs was a dream to me. Back in college I had a couple of classes that focused on product development including taste testing, sensory labs, and ingredient adjustment. This brought back a lot of memories!

wild harvest

After the tour we headed out to the Hilton in downtown Minneapolis where the Summit was being held. We got all checked in, were greeted by the amazing organizing team, and got situated in our room.

I was SO excited to see Becky and Katie! Caroline, Becky, Katie, and I all roomed together for the weekend. I know you’re thinking that’s crazy: four girls and one bathroom sounds like a nightmare, but it actually worked out just fine! It was never a problem.

We headed to a presentation given by Nancy Clark, RD about proper refueling post-workout. After that we got sweaty with an Insanity workout. I only did it at half speed and I was still dripping sweat by the end of it!

Next on the agenda: dinner at Kindee Thai. There was a group of 12 of us girls who met there and I got to meet so many great ladies and eat tasty chicken and veggie stir fry. Let’s see if I can remember everyone at dinner: Gabe, Jen, Becky, Natalie, Katie, Amanda, Kim, Hannah, Katie T., and Caroline. Did I do it girls? I will feel terrible if I forgot someone!

Kindee thai

After dinner we headed across the street to the Guthrie Theater where our cocktail party was being held. If you’ve ever been there, the event was held on the endless bridge. The views are gorgeous!

We mingled, made new friends, and had some serious fun in the photo booth. In the photos below: Caroline, Jen, Becky, Katie, Hannah, Kim, and Me.

hls cocktail party

The evening flew by and before I knew it I was snuggled into bed. Unfortunately I cannot sleep well for the life of me on the first night in any new place, so I got a total of five hours that night maybe.

Saturday

But that’s okay because there was plenty of healthy food and beverages to keep me perky during the day on Saturday! I even had my first experience with Energy Bits which are made from 100% organically grown spirulina algae, and loaded with 40 nutrients and protein. They are a healthy energy boost and 100% natural whole food which is the only way I would ever take an energy supplement.

hls 13 food

Saturday was spent listening to panels and interacting with new blog friends and the sponsors at the event. My girl Katie was one of the presenters! Go Katie!

conferences

I took away some new tips for the blog and am hoping to make some great changes and enhancements to Beautifully Nutty!

Sponsors: Wild Harvest (gold sponsor), Driscoll’s Berry (my jam), Blue Diamond, Ninja Kitchen, Musselman’s, Refuel Got Chocolate Milk, Sargento, 360 PR, Ortholite,  and CocoVia.

hls sponsors

In the afternoon we had a little down-time, so the girls and I headed out for a walk around the area. Even though I am from Minnesota, I don’t get to the downtown area very often, so the whole weekend was so much fun for me. I was discovering new places to explore in MN!

hls roomies walk

Saturday night we had plans to get all dolled up one more time and go out to dinner. Our plans changed when we got into our hotel room at the end of the day, got into our comfy clothes, and sat down. Not to mention it was also raining outside. A roomie vote concluded that we would not be going out to dinner. Instead, we picked up Chipotle and a bottle of wine and snuggled into our hotel room for the evening. Our honorary roomie Tara, joined us too! We were all giddy that we decided to stay in!

Sunday

I slept WAY better the second night and was ready for the HLS13 5K bright and early Sunday morning. It was a walk or run depending on however you wanted to tackle it. Our group decided to walk it. We made our way over to the sculpture garden where we got real corny posing in front of the big cherry on a spoon.

hls roomies by the cherry

The air was crisp and we decided a Caribou Coffee stop was necessary for the way back. Once we got back to the hotel, we joined everybody in the main conference room for a farewell breakfast. Heather and Julie, the main organizers of the event, thanked us all for coming and then revealed to us the location of HLS for next year: Madison, WI! Just a 3.5 hour car ride from me!

I have to give a HUGE shout out to the whole HLS planning team. You ladies rock my socks. You are so organized and thoughtful, and made the summit so memorable once again! THANK YOU!

Here was the swag damage…

hls 13 swag

 

Whoa baby that’s a lotta swag! So many companies donated amazing swag. We even got a Kona Kase and a Nature Box! So many goodies!

And the fun continues. The lovely ladies from Driscoll’s had heaping amounts of leftover berries, and since I drove to the conference and didn’t have to worry about flying berries home, they sent me home with mounds of berries.

driscolls berries

 

Berry heaven. I froze the berries and will be using them for the next 5 years few months in smoothies, sorbets, and who knows, I might even make some homemade jam? You’d like that Tara, right?! Although I didn’t win any of the giveaway prizes over the weekend, I feel like I won with these berries!

And now for the cheesiness. I also feel like I won because I had the most incredible weekend with my girls. I love spending time with these women—they are all truly amazing. I got to meet so many wonderful ladies who all have a story to tell, and who are all beautiful and unique in their own special way. It’s incredible being at a function like this where everyone has a common interest and passion. You never run out of things to talk about! Thank you HLS for another great year! Until next time. xoxo.

One last note: the Hilton Minneapolis was the perfect place to stay for the summit. Our room was plenty big for four of us girls plus all of our clothes and swag. They were extremely accommodating and I would recommend this hotel to others visiting the area.

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Break the Sugar Addiction

It starts with one piece of chocolate, and then another. Then it’s birthday cake to celebrate, a fun dessert out at a restaurant, ice cream on a Sunday night. The downward spiral begins. The sugar begins to take over and the more our bodies get, the more they want.

katie cake

Let me remind you, that I am perfectly okay with everybody, including myself enjoying their favorite desserts on occasion, or even a small piece of dark chocolate daily. If that is their most favorite thing ever, there is no way I will tell them they can’t enjoy that special thing #yolo. But it is so easy to let that one piece of chocolate slip into something more, and it’s a fine line one has to walk.

cheesecake

Over the past month, I have let sugar begin the process of taking over and it is definitely winning.

Prior to that (so a couple of months ago), I was limiting my refined sugar intake. I was feeling great, my skin was mostly clear with only occasional breakouts, and my sweet tooth could be hastened by a handful of raisins. Now, on the other hand, my health has taken a minor detour, my skin is breaking out worse than it has in a very long time, my body isn’t functioning at its maximum capability, and it craves more and more sugar.

chocolate mousse cake carrot cake

m and m's

milkshakes

fro yo

I am not okay with this and guess what? That all stops today.

I decided I had to write this in a post because you guys are all my witnesses. I will be removing refined sugars from my diet once again just as I did before and only limiting them to very special occasions. I plan to do this for the next couple of weeks to one month (given I have an anniversary vacation coming up in two weeks which is a very special occasion) but hope that I can continue to remain mindful of my sugar intake and not let it get out of hand again even after that time. The sugar slip and sugar addiction happens all too easily.

Starting today the only sugars I am allowing in my diet are:

  • natural sugars from whole foods
  • fruit
  • dried fruit
  • honey
  • agave on rare occasion
  • coconut sugar on rare occasion
  • stevia

I know two weeks doesn’t sound like much but you would be surprised at what a dramatic difference that short amount of time can make. If I slip, I’m not going to beat myself up, but I am going to do my best!

My body is in need of healing still and I know it doesn’t appreciate all of these extra sugars I have been feeding it lately.

I already feel better just after writing this. I have a couple of people on board with me in this challenge. We are going to hold each other accountable. If this interests you I would love for you to hop on board with us and write notes in the comments section! Even if you don’t want to remove it completely, you could use this as an opportunity to become more mindful of the refined processed sugars that are around you, and the amount of sugar you are taking in.

So there you have it. That is what is going on in this nutty household right now. The sugar….is going down.

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On a side note, I just got back from the Healthy Living Summit yesterday and I have some serious recapping to do. Look for it sometime this week!

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Another Jog

That’s right…I got out for another jog yesterday. I can’t help myself lately! The cooler weather just screams “go for a run!”

run wild my child

The temperature was in the low 70’s, with the sun coming and going, and there was just a slight breeze. Moose and I suited up and journeyed out. I had planned on about 4 miles alternating between jogging and walking, and that is exactly what I accomplished.

Moose was practically begging me to run faster but I kept a very slow, easy pace and listened hard to any cues my body was telling me to slow down. My knee was aching a bit so I listened, and slowed down.

I must remind you, I don’t plan on running any races any time soon nor will I be running fast any time soon. I will only be running jogging at a very slow pace for a while and I am 100% okay with this.

Although my body is so close to being fully healed, I still feel I am in limbo land and could easily be knocked off the rocker if I do anything too crazy too soon. It’s not worth the risk.

I feel so delicate these days…

princess girl

Awwwwwww….

Although I am feeling great, I know better than to push myself too hard at this point.

I am not huffing and puffing on any of these runs. The slow pace has been so peaceful. The only exception to the slow running is when I run by the rumored coyote hole, in which case I book it!

me jog?

I think part of the reason I am enjoying these runs so much is because they are stress- free. I have no race to train for or deadline to build up my mileage. I have no expectation regarding how far I plan to run, how fast, and no one is judging me if I decide to walk. I don’t even judging myself when I walk and this is what surprises me most. I am truly enjoying myself and it is fabulous. This is what running should be.

don't think run

It doesn’t matter how fast, how slow, how far, it just matters that you go. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, swim. Dance, get your yoga on, stretch, do some push-ups, hold a plank. Your body and mind will thank you.

Move your body, and move it for those who can’t.

movement

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Five Things I’m Loving Tuesday

My friend Caroline over at Trendy Trainer (heeeeeyyy!) did a post about five of her favorite things right now. I like the idea of focusing on the positives in life versus the negatives and really like this fun idea for a post, so I am going to follow right along with my lovely friend with…

Five Things I’m Loving Tuesday

1. Long Walks!

With friends, loved ones, Moose or by myself. The weather has been perfect for walks not to mention the stress relief it brings and with the health benefits! Although I will admit I do miss running and I am doing some very light jogging on some of my walks. But still, I love walking!

Check out some of the health benefits of walking!

walking

2. Quinoa

It’s the whole grain that keeps on giving: it’s a complete protein, a good source of iron and fiber, not to mention it tastes wonderful. It can be used in savory or sweet dishes. When I talk to clients about how to use quinoa I will usually recommend starting off using it like you would brown rice; for example with a stir fry. As you get more comfortable with the taste of quinoa you can start to use it more creatively!

I have been enjoying my yellow quinoa, and have a new quinoa recipe coming your way tomorrow!

homemade mediterranean dinner

 

3. Almond Butter

Whether it’s homemade or store bought (yes I buy it sometimes at Costco if I’m feeling lazy) I have been loving it mixed into my go-to smoothie, on brown rice cakes, on dates, on top of fruit, mixed into homemade chocolate, or off of a spoon. Do I miss peanut butter still? Sure I do. But I am really liking the almond butter these days too!

banana and almond butter

 

 

4. My Family and Friends

I can’t get enough of them lately! Love them so much.

mom and dad Grandma's Marathon Weekend

 

5. Pandora Internet Radio

I love playing pandora when I’m cleaning the house, hanging out, or out for a walk. I have about 15 different radio stations I have set up so I can always find one to fit my mood! Feel like dancing? I play Pop and Hip Hop or Britney Spears Radio. Feeling more mellow? I turn on Jack Johnson or Hotel California. Feeling random? Glee Cast radio. I am all over the place in my taste for music!

Not familiar with Pandora? Check out their site. It’s free!

Have a happy day friends!

What are you loving right now?!

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Casual Duathlon Training Plan & My Healing Decision

I started writing this post a couple of weeks ago about my plans for training for the Athleta Iron Girl Duathlon in September. To be perfectly honest, I was hesitant to agree to do this event from the get go.

My body has been in such limbo land for so long and I had heard straight from the Naturopath’s (ND) mouth, “you need to chill out on the intensity of your workouts.” And she wasn’t joking. This was what she told me immediately after I had just told her about the Insanity Program.

She told me my body is working so hard to heal, and that I am taking the energy away from healing the disrupted and imbalanced areas in my body by making it heal the muscles and tissues that need repair from the intense workouts. After the Insanity workouts, my body was completely out of whack. Almost every part of my body was out of balanced and stressed. I had agreed to slow it down with the intensity of my workouts.

I asked her about running and she said walking and light jogging would be okay, but nothing more than a mile or two (and she didn’t agree to this right away, it took some persuading from me), and leisure bike rides were okay. But mostly, she recommended I stick to walking and yoga for now. I hadn’t signed up for the duathlon at this point.

I was completely psyched about the opportunity to take part in the duathlon. I began training and was taking a very casual approach to training; biking when I could with longer bike rides on the weekends, and was debating on how I would be incorporating some light running into the mix. The debate was coming from my head telling me I shouldn’t be running at this moment in my life, and my heart telling me I can and that I would be surrounded by thousands of inspiring women including some of my wonderful readers!

The debacle continued and I still hadn’t started running when I went in for my next ND visit last week. In the last month I have made some major changes to my health: I completed the Clean Program and followed the elimination diet for about a month, I switched from Insanity workouts and running, to walking, light biking, and yoga. I continue to eat sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, alcohol-free, and caffeine-free (for the most part) for now until I can be more than 100% sure I am back to health. Besides that I was taking all of my supplements and medications just as I should. My ND also had me on detoxifying drops that are meant to balance out imbalances in the body. For one person, that’s a lot of changes in one month’s time.

When I went back this time around, my body was nearly superb. Compared to my whole body being out of balance last time I went in, nearly my whole body was balanced except for a couple of areas. She was blown away at my progress. She told me that everything I was doing was working, and to keep doing exactly what I had been doing. Knowing that this isn’t a forever diet I will need to be following, I knew I could continue to do it. It’s actually not that difficult if you plan ahead.

I had a brain and heart battle throughout the appointment regarding whether or not I should tell my ND about the duathlon. I have established a trusting relationship with her and felt that she needed to know. So, near the end of the appointment I told her that I was registered for a duathlon in September. I told her about my casual approach to training and how really my goal is only to finish, I wasn’t concerned about my time (except for I knew there was a 2.5 hour time limit on the bike ride, but this didn’t concern me).

She was very glad I told her and just as I suspected, she highly recommended that I shouldn’t participate in the duathlon at this time. She said right now, my #1 priority is getting well and completely healing the body. I am so close to being there and she is afraid that any type of overexertion could set me back again. I really don’t want to be set back again. This has been way too long of a journey already. Basically how she explained it was, even if you are mentally going into it thinking that you will just be taking a casual and fun approach to the whole event, your body doesn’t always take it that way. When it is a timed race event, the body does crazy things. Endorphins run, adrenaline runs, digestive processes increase, and the body gets excited. The body can take it as a fight or flight situation like it is fighting for its life and can become very stressed. For someone who has struggled so long to find wellness, putting my body into any state of stress might be enough to tip me off again.

So, collaboratively, we came to the decision that I will not be participating in this years Athleta Iron Girl Duathlon. The hardest part about telling you I am dropping out from the race is knowing that I have talked some of you into doing it with me, and now here I am telling you I can’t do it anymore.

My health is my #1 priority. I want to be well. I hope to have a family some day. I know that deciding not to take part in this event is absolutely the right choice for me at this point in my life. I am hoping to be able to be a part of this event in the future. Not only that, I hope to run another half-marathon. It will all come in due time. Just not now.

I want this to be a reminder to all of you reading this. If you are sick or if your body is in healing mode, it is okay to take a rest from strenuous workouts. When we workout hard, the body works hard to repair our muscles, meaning it is taking away energy from healing other areas of your body that may need it more (for me, its my GI system and Endocrine system).

Even if you physically know you can accomplish something, take a step back and evaluate if your state of wellness can truly handle it.

Our poor bodies try hard to send us messages all of the time, and sometimes it takes an outsider telling you to “slow down” for us to actually listen to what are bodies are really telling us. This isn’t meant to discourage athletes from performing at their best, or marathoners to stop training, because more than likely, these athletes are in a better state of health than I am, I am just saying that it is OKAY to “chill out” sometimes if that is what your body needs. Sometimes it’s what our bodies do need and I know mine is thanking me.

Even though I am no longer participating in this event, I do still plan to continue and promote this amazing event. The discount offer still stands so if you are interested or know anyone who might be interested in participating in this years duathlon, please sign up and encourage them to sign up. I will be your cheerleader! Email me if you have any questions at beautifullynutty@gmail.com

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With all of that being said, since I did start to write a Casual Duathlon Training Plan post, I thought I would still share with you what all what I had written so far.

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As many of you know, I have registered to take part in the Athleta Iron Girl Duathlon in September. Ladies who are local, it’s not too late to register! Check out this post on how to register. I even included a coupon code so that you can get a discount!

As a reminder, the duathlon consists of:

  • 2 mile run
  • 22 mile bike ride
  • 2 mile run

As another reminder, I am supposed to be staying cool and calm with my physical activity level. Given that tidbit of info, I have really need to take a step back and think about my approach towards training for this event.

I want to train enough so that my body feels comfortable covering the appropriate distances, but not train so hard as to put any extra strain on my body or to stress me out.

I have come up with my super casual Duathlon Training Plan. There are no calendars to print off telling you which day to train and at what distance, this is all about listening to my body, getting the training in when I can, and staying relaxed.

My goal for this duathlon is simply to finish.

Biking

The time cap for the 22 mile bike ride portion is 2.5 hours which if I calculated correctly (or if google calculated correctly I should say), would be about a 8.8 mph bike ride. As long as I can maintain a 8.8 mph speed throughout the ride, I can finish in 2.5 hours. My average speed is usually in the 12-15 mph range so I should be just fine.

Over the last couple of weeks I have gotten out during the week for a couple of shorter rides, 6 miles or so, and then on the weekend am slowly beginning to cover longer rides. This past weekend was 10 miles over in St. Paul where the route was fairly level. When I go for rides in my neighborhood, I am always subjected to extreme hills which is good training, but on longer rides, I need to take it slow and gradually work up to longer hilly rides.

biking duathlon training biking duathlon training

My plan is to increase my mileage each week until I feel comfortable with about 20 miles.

Running

I’m still working on my plan for the running training. In my head I keep hearing my ND say “cool it” especially on the running and Insanity program! I feel that if I can comfortably run two miles, that I should be just fine running in the event since the two 2-mile runs are split up by the bike ride in the middle.

I will begin casually walking/jogging until I cover 2 miles at a reasonable pace that I feel comfortable with, and will probably leave the running train at that.

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That is as far as I got on my Casual Training Plan. Again, I hope you all understand why I am doing this. I appreciate all of your ongoing support! I promise I AM doing very well! I am healing!

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Mint Dark Chocolate Recipe (Sugar-Free, Soy-Free, Dairy-Free)

That’s what I’m talking about.

One of my biggest vices has always been sweets, mainly chocolate. When I started seeing my Naturopath I told her about my sweet tooth and that I truly enjoy eating chocolate on a daily basis. Since I know that my body reacts very negatively to sugar, especially at this point in my journey, I should be avoiding processed sugar as much as possible. I had settled with fact that at this point in my life I just wouldn’t eat chocolate or at least not as often as I was before.

But then…my naturopath suggested that I make my own chocolate using raw cacao powder, coconut oil, stevia, and almond butter. Why had I not thought of this? Brilliant. She recommended I do some searching online to find a recipe. And that is just what I did.

I found a recipe from Practical Paleo which served as my inspiration. I ended up creating these beautiful chocolates!!

homemade chocolate

I have been experimenting with different ingredients and amounts of ingredients. I have had a couple of flops (my first batch came out pretty bitter) but I would say that I am getting pretty darn good at making my own chocolates. I cannot believe how easy they are to make!

My friends at Navitas Naturals were kind enough to send me a bag of their Raw Cacao, Raw Cacao Nibs, and Coconut Sugar so that I could continue to experiment in making my own chocolates.

Their mission as a company is “to provide the finest organic superfoods that increase energy and enhance health.” Their products are all organic, non-GMO project verified, and provides a high quality and safe product. I am 100% behind this company. source

navitas naturals

So far I have only used the cacao powder, but I know I will be using the other two ingredients at some point. I am super intrigued by the coconut sugar. Coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index than regular cane sugar so it helps an individual maintain a more steady blood sugar versus major blood sugar dips and spikes.

Raw cacao is one of the richest antioxidant sources found in nature. Not only that but it provides other important minerals like magnesium and iron. So yes, the rumors are true that dark chocolate is indeed good for you (in moderation of course).

You’re probably thinking, cut to the chase Melanie, I want to see this recipe! Okay okay here you go. This is my recipe for Mint Dark Chocolate which is my favorite recipe so far (the rest still need some tweaking).

In a microwave safe bowl, mix together 1/2 cup melted coconut oil with 1/2 cup cacao powder. You can use any cocoa powder but raw high quality is best and make sure it is unsweetened. You can find raw cacao by Navitas Naturals at Whole Foods and I found it at our local co-op as well.

Next, mix in 1/2 cup of almond butter. I use homemade but you can use store-bought, just make sure to look at the ingredient label and check that there is no sugar added!

homemade chocolate

Next, I add in 15-20 drops of liquid vanilla stevia. You can adjust the amount of drops to your liking. More if you like sweeter, less if you prefer not as sweet. Lastly, I add in a minuscule splash of mint extract. I have never really measured this but I would say 1/4 teaspoon or less.

Give this all one last good stir.

homemade chocolate

Next, drop the chocolate into mini cupcake liners ( I didn’t have these so I just used the normal sized ones) on a baking sheet. Once all of the chocolate is dispersed evenly among the liners, place the pan with the cupcake liners and chocolates in the freezer.

(Side note: the top chocolates in this picture below were an experiment that didn’t turn out to be my favorite so I am not sharing any recipe for those ones until I perfect them!). The chocolates on the bottom are the mint ones before they went into the freezer.

homemade chocolate

It doesn’t take long for these to set (20 minutes or so) so before too long you have yourself some tasty, sugar-free homemade dark chocolates! IMG_3200

homemade chocolate

Since I had to use the normal sized cupcake liners, I cut my chocolates into quarters so that they were more bite-sized and I stored them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer.  If you used the mini cupcake liners you probably won’t need to cut them. You need to keep them in the freezer because they will melt at room temperature.

Now you can have your dark chocolate and eat it too! I hope you enjoy!

Homemade Dark Chocolate (Sugar-Free)
Print
In a microwave safe bowl, mix together ½ cup melted coconut oil with ½ cup cacao powder.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup cacao powder
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • 15-20 drops vanilla stevia (to your liking)
  • ¼ tsp or less of mint extract (to your liking)
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, mix together coconut oil with cacao powder.
  2. Add in 15-20 drops of stevia. You can adjust the amount of drops to your liking. More if you like sweeter, less if you prefer not as sweet.
  3. Add in the mint extract.
  4. Mix well.
  5. Drop into mini cupcake liners on a baking sheet.
  6. Place in freezer and let set for at least 20 minutes.
  7. Store in freezer. They do melt at room temperature so you need to keep them cold!

 

 

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My Go-To Blueberry Smoothie

First and foremost, happy Friday to you all!

We have two very special guests staying with us this weekend so I am one happy gal.

jeff and ana

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I’m keeping it short and simple for you all this Friday.

I have been really loving my smoothies lately especially now that I have reintroduced bananas back into my diet. I have been mixing up lots of different concoctions but have found one that has become my go-to smoothie.

I never really measure out the ingredients, I prefer to “eyeball” them, but I did my best to estimate the correct measurements per ingredient so you can try making it at home yourself!

smoothie

My Go-To Blueberry Smoothie

  • about 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/4-1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • handful of kale
  • spoonful of hemp protein powder
  • spoonful of raw cacao powder
  • spoonful of almond butter
  • touch of stevia
  • 1/2-1 cup almond milk

Give it a good whirl in your blender or Nutribullet until completely blended. Enjoy as an on-the-go breakfast or a perfectly healthy afternoon snack!

Warning: Be careful drinking this smoothie when wearing white clothes! I usually play it safe by wearing an apron in the car if I’m taking it on the go. Nerd alert.

smoothie on the go

I hope you all have a fantastic Friday! xoxo

Question: What’s in  your go-to smoothie?

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