Getting Back into Outdoor Running

Well, I did something yesterday that I haven’t done in a while…went for an outdoor run. The weather around here has been pretty nasty the last few weeks with cold temps followed by snow, so I have been taking my runs (albeit few runs) inside on the treadmill lately.

Yesterday morning I was planning on just that; running on the treadmill. I told Dana my plan and he said okay, but just so you know I am running outside today. Usually the only way I will run on snowy, icy, streets in the winter is if I’m running with someone else, that way if I were to fall, I’d have someone there to help me out. I made the decision to run with Dana and Moose outside.

I got all geared up and wore the same outfit as I did at our January 1st Polar Dash 10K run (photo from the polar dash), except no neck warmer:

dana and melanie polar dash 2013

 

It was 19°F when we were out. The first mile was really cold on my face, but not too long after that I was warming up real well.

The sidewalks in our neighborhood were kinda wishy-washy as far as being clear of snow and ice. Inevitably, the uphill sidewalks were the ones covered in snow so I felt like I was running in sand, uphill. Those hills made me feel pretty out of shape.

At mile two, my legs were feeling like a light load of bricks. The cold was getting to them but they kept moving. We completed our three-mile loop and I am happy to say I finally got an outdoor run in again.

I have less than one month until our 7K run and as long as I start running outside a little more often, I should be just fine. Who knows anyway, the weather could be pretty nice mid-March. Last year it was unseasonably warm. You just never know! You have to be prepared for anything.

From here on out, I’m hoping the weather will only improve and get warmer so I can really start to enjoy outdoor runs again! I’m ready for it.

When we got home I did some stretching, core exercises, and my plank-a-day. Then we got busy packing for our trip and working on some more food preparation!

I wanted to bring some dried fruit on our trip to snack on, so I placed apricots, peaches, pineapples, and bananas into the food dehydrator, covered it, and left it on for a long time; about nine hours.

food dehydrated

*I used canned fruit (in its own juice) for this and rinsed them thoroughly and dried them in the sink

For lunch I ate a grilled salmon fillet with zucchini. I ended up adding some honey dijon mustard to my plate because I’m not into plain salmon yet.

salmon

I finished lunch with a microwaved apple…

baked apple

Later in the afternoon before we left to run errands I snacked on a banana with peanut butter…

banana with peanut butter

Dinner was a grilled turkey burger with avocado, SCD ketchup, and mustard, and cooked carrots. Why do grill burgers taste SO much better?! It was delicious.

turkey burger with avocado

Finally at about 9:30 pm, the fruit was done dehydrating. We laid them out on the counter to cool down.

dried fruit dried fruit

And then bagged them up for the trip!

dried fruit

 

We do plan on visiting a local farm/farmer’s market to pick up fresh produce while we are in Turks and Caicos, but it’s nice to have other options too.

When we were in the Boundary Waters last May with my brother Scott and his girlfriend Nicole, Nicole had made a huge batch of dried fruit and I loved it so much that I went and bought a food dehydrator for myself. Dried fruit is one of my favorite treats, but I don’t like all of the sugar and additives that is often added to the store-bought kind (dried fruit has enough sugar on its own), so I try to make it myself the majority of the time. No additives here!

I have lots to do today so I better get to it. Have a great day!

 

Birthday Bash at Comedy Sports

I don’t know about you guys but I had a pretty great Friday. Not only was it the best day of the week but I also got to celebrate my Betsy’s birthday. Last year we went to Betsy’s place and hung out, played games, and I made these insanely amazing Oreo Bars. This year we celebrated at Comedy Sports in Calhoun Square in Minneapolis.

Before I get into that, one brief back track. For dinner I made meatloaf burgers.

I mixed lean ground turkey with chopped olives, onion, a dash of garlic powder, and cracked black pepper. I formed them into patties and cooked them on the stove top. I topped mine with mozzarella cheese and served it with sautéed mushrooms. Delicious.

turkey burger

Okay, now back to the birthday celebration. We met the birthday group at Republic Bar in Calhoun Square. As someone who doesn’t visit that area very often I have to say I was blown away at how nice it was. Not only Calhoun Square, but Republic as well. I felt like I was in Chicago or New York. I loved the feeling of it.

The beautiful birthday girl and me, and NO we didn’t plan on matching. 🙂

betsy and melanie

Right across the hallway from the Republic was Comedy Sports. So after a little mingling and libations, we headed across the hall.

comedy sports

Comedy Sports is an improvisational comedy show played like a game. There are two teams of three comedians who compete for the most laughs. There is a referee who calls the shots, names the games, and interacts with the audience taking suggestions for objects in the skits. If you’ve ever seen ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

I was fascinated by the quick wits of these comedians. There are given a topic and within seconds are asked to perform it. My brain does not work like that at all. It takes me a little while to conjure my thoughts. I guess that’s why I’m not an improv comedian or a politician or a lawyer, among others. 🙂

I thought the show was very funny. I thought they would pick on the birthday girl but they didn’t, and I think she was more than happy about that. Tickets were only $12, actually $11 because we got a group discount. I think that’s quite the deal when you consider that is pretty much the same as going to a movie. Right? I haven’t been to a movie in a good year or two but last I remember it was $10 or so. It is a great way to spend a Friday evening.

I can’t decide though if I enjoy improv comedy or stand-up comedy like we saw at the Joke Joint more. They both make me laugh which is a healthy wonderful thing.

comedy sports

After dinner we made a stop at one more bar before calling it a night.

dana and melanie

I had so much fun celebrating last night with my little snarky. I love that lovely lady more than I could ever say.

Enjoy your Saturday my friends. I am off to get a workout in, take down Christmas decorations, and RELAX.

Question: Have you ever been to a comedy show? What did you think?

30-Day Abs Challenge & Vacation Plans

Howdy! Happy weekend to you all. Did everyone have an enjoyable Friday?

Like many of you, my Fridays at work at “casual.” I wish that meant I could wear sweats to work but it’s not that casual. Jeans will do though!

melanie casual friday

Lunch was not captured in photo but I had a bowl of leftover veggie soup, carrots, an apple, and a piece of dark chocolate from a lovely co-worker. We call dark chocolate our “vitamin” so if one of us was looking for a piece of chocolate we will ask the other for a vitamin. We love our daily dose (moderation, moderation moderation!).

After work I snacked on a handful of blackberries and 2 dates with peanut butter. Then I got movin’. On Sunday, I accepted a physical challenge (this brings me back to the show Double Dare–anyone else?) through Challenge Loop. The challenge is being put on by Jen Morgan and is called….

30 Day Abs Challenge

Each week for the month of January Jen posts a new workout and you must complete the workout 3-4x a week. Here is the first week’s challenge:

jen morgan

On the “off” days she encourages everyone to do a 1-minute plank. Besides the fitness aspect of the challenge, she also promotes the importance of clean eating in reaching your health and fitness goals.

In my entire life I have never had “abs.” When it comes to ab work I tend to get extremely lazy. I’ll do “core” work after some cardio exercises, bust out a few sets of the same move and then be done. I’ve never been consistent enough and have never given it a fair chance to see results. This is why I signed up for the challenge.

It was totally free. The stipulations are you comment on the Challenge Loop site each time you complete one of their workouts and you must post 8 times in order to be entered into a contest to win a copy of Women’s Health Big Book of Abs. The book isn’t my motivation, building confidence in my appearance is.

After 1 month, I shall see my progress. I finished my first set yesterday and I was really struggling through it. I hope I will continue to feel my core strengthening as I progress through the month’s exercises.

What’s REALLY motivating me to get moving and get my body in tip-top shape is knowing that I will be in a bikini in less than two months. Dana and I booked a vacation to Turks and Caicos for the end of February!!!

Turks and Caicos is a little exotic island just north of the Dominican Republic and Haiti and east of Cuba.

turks and caicos

Turks and Caicos Quick Facts (source):

  • Turks and Caicos Islands consist of 40 islands and cays, eight of which are inhabited
  • Turks and Caicos are located in the Atlantic Ocean, not the Caribbean Sea
  • Language – English
  • Currency – The US dollar is the official currency
  • Climate (while we are there) – From November to May the average temperature is 80 to 84 degrees. Water temperature in the winter is about 74 to 78 degrees. A constant trade wind keeps the climate at a very comfortable level. PERFECT!
  • Government – The Turks & Caicos Islands are a British Crown Colony. A Governor is appointed by the Queen and presides over an Executive Council formed by an elected local self-government.

I am literally getting more and more excited by the second as I write this post! We decided on the end of February because that is usually the time that I start to get a mild form of the winter blues. Minnesota winters are very looooonnnnggg so having a wonderful trip like this to look forward to really helps to get you through!

chairs-on-the-beach-turks-and-caicos

Instead of a hotel we are staying in a villa—-so basically our own little home. We decided to go that route because 1. It was about the same cost as staying in a hotel and 2. It is complete with a full kitchen so we can make all of our meals, therefore hopefully keep my tummy feeling semi-normal.

It’s the same story each time we got to an all-inclusive resort, I end up eating way too much food namely desserts. Not that we won’t stay in an all-inclusive again, because we will, but this will be a nice change of pace. We will bring some of our own groceries which are non-perishable, and then purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, and seafood while we are there.

The resort supplies us with 2 stand up paddle boards which I have been so anxious to try!

SUP

The villa is right on the water…:smile:

Anyway, I could really go on all day about how thrilled I am about this, but I will stop. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to go on this trip with Dana. It will be a very relaxing getaway for us. I am planning to pack lots of books, games, and peanut butter!

Back to reality again…dinner’s this past week were all pre-planned. I wrote them all out before we went grocery shopping and stocked up on all necessary ingredients. This made evening meals SO easy. I really need to start planning more often.

Monday: Lobster and crab feast!

Tuesday: Bean burritos—this one was actually spontaneous

Wednesday: Vegetable Soup

Thursday: Buffalo Chicken Salad

Friday: Turkey burgers with grilled onions, brussels sprouts, and broccoli

turkey burger

After dinner we took down our Christmas tree and rearranged our living room back to normal. As much as I LOVE Christmas, it feels good to be moving on now and starting the fresh new year.

I also munched on highly addicting Chex mix that Dana made…

chex mix

Nom nom nom…

Okey dokey, it’s time for me to get on with my day. Happy Saturday my friends!

Question of the day: If you could go on vacation ANYWHERE right now, where would you go?

Get Your Laugh On

Happy Friday! Holy cow this week flew by and I am NOT complaining!

I’ve been a busy bee this morning already; I got a quick run in and then ran a couple of errands. I still have a boat load of things on my to-do list today though so I’m not going to get too windy in today’s post.

We’re talking Thursday…

Lunch: diced pear with walnuts, fontina cheese, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a drizzle of honey. This would be a GREAT breakfast as well. I also snacked on a couple of other fruits and veggies to hold me through the afternoon.

After work I wanted to get movin’, but didn’t want to get sweaty because Dana and I had date plans for later in the evening, so I opted for a 40 minute walk on the treadmill. I kept a pretty easy speed the whole time while enjoying my favorite channel, Food Network.

I really haven’t been in much of a cooking mood this week but we managed to throw together a pretty nice dinner considering.

On the menu: turkey burgers seasoned with worcestershire, seasoned salt, and pepper topped with sautéed mushrooms and onions and melted fontina cheese, served alongside roasted asparagus.

So good.

Now, on to date night. 

Our first stop of the evening was at Cherry Berry where we treated ourselves (actually got it for free because I had a birthday gift card there) to a nice bowl of frozen yogurt. Date night shouldn’t be complete without it. 😉

Next up, a whole lot of laughs.

A while back we had bought a Living Social discount deal for a show at a comedy club called “The Joke Joint” which is a family owned business established just six years ago. As life gets so busy, our date nights become less and less, so buying the tickets in advance was a really good push for us to get out and do something fun, because if you know me at all you know I am not one to throw away money.

The actual show room was very casual and intimate and kind of smelled like a really old home but in a welcoming sort of way. Is that weird?

Dana and I were seated literally belly up to the stage. Our entertainers for the night were Geoff Tate and Chris Maddock. They were HILARIOUS. My cheeks hurt from laughing and I had perma-wrinkles around my eyes. It felt great. Laughter is the best medicine.

I would absolutely recommend this place to family and friends that are in the area. Find a comedy club near you and get your laugh on!

Happy FABULOUS Friday! xoxo

 

Cowboy Caviar Mini Bell Peppers

What a great weekend that went by all too fast as always. How about catching you up a bit from the last time we touched base which would be Saturday around lunch time.

In my belly…a harvest pear salad with romaine lettuce, pears, walnuts, feta cheese, and poppy-seed dressing. Complete with fall leaves in the background of the photo.

After lunch I got to work preparing an appetizer for a Halloween party we were going to that evening.

Cowboy Caviar Mini Bell Peppers

I combined tomatoes, black beans, corn, avocado, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper to make a cowboy caviar. I then halved orange and yellow mini bell peppers, took out the seeds and the stem, and filled each boat with cowboy caviar. Delicious, healthy and beautiful to boot!

To the Halloween part-ay we went. We were greeted by this beautiful witch brewing up a secret potion and making snarky remarks at us.

Before I reveal what Dana and I dressed up as, let’s have a little fun and let me give you some hints and see if you can guess.

  1. I am holding our newest child Penelope.
  2. Our son Mason is at auntie Kimmy’s for the night.

Any Kardashian fans out there? I was Kourtney Kardashian and Dana was her boyfriend Scott Disick. That’s alright if you didn’t get it, most of our friends didn’t know either.

Our lovely hosts for the evening were Freddie Mercury (Adam) and Katniss (Stacy). It made me feel better that I didn’t know who either of them were dressed up as either. It was a general theme for the night—no one knew who anyone was supposed to be.

Except for the egg. I knew that Amanda was an egg. 😉

We had a great time as always being with our friends, munching on some great chow, and  laughing at everyone’s ridiculous costumes. We were home and into bed by midnight and I was wide awake at 8:00 am Sunday morning.

Sunday

I made myself a chopped banana with Parkers Farm peanut butter and cinnamon.

I also drank a cup of coffee while we flipped through the Sunday paper. Next, we hit the road for our grocery shopping extravaganza. We will be leaving for our vacation to Colombia in just a few days, but we needed to stock up the fridge for a very special guest who will be staying at our house with the pup.

We got a late start on running our errands so by the time we got home it was 1:00 pm and we were both very hungry. I notice that’s a common theme around our house. I was excited that I had leftover cowboy caviar from the appetizer on Saturday, so we cooked up a few over easy eggs, topped them on top the leftover cowboy caviar with some cheese, and had a protein packed and super tasty meal within minutes.

In the afternoon I made myself change into workout clothes and took the dog out for 2.6 mile run around the neighborhood. I could tell I was tired and dehydrated because it was a pretty difficult run for me.

A very good friend of mine was in town for the weekend so I got to see him and his beautiful girlfriend for a little while, then mom and dad stopped over too! After that we did a little packing and got ourselves ready for the week ahead.

Oh and we ate dinner too…a turkey burger served on top of a salad with onion, tomato, cheese, and green olives.

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

Yoga Challenge

Since it’s Monday that means it’s time to check in on the last October Yoga Challenge for the month! I can’t believe the month is over in a couple of days. I kind of feel like October didn’t happen it flew by so fast, but IT DID. Don’t let me fool you.

This past week I got in not one, but two yoga sessions. The first one was a full body session and the second was a session geared towards athletes. I completed the whole month’s challenge using OnDemand yoga sessions. Once again, I loved every second of this challenge.

Yoga is about connecting the body and the mind, and it is good for all of us to take the time to practice that. Whether or not you are lying on a yoga mat, or sitting in your office, take 30 seconds periodically to become aware of your mind and body. Focus on your breathing if you are feeling overwhelmed. Remind yourself to live in the moment.

I said this before but I do truly mean it again, I really hope to continue to include yoga in my life even though this challenge comes to an end. I feel better after every session and it reminds me to stay calm and helps me to control stress. Thanks to Courtney for hosting this challenge once again!

Namaste.

*****Thinking of all of my friends and family on the east coast. Stay safe!*****