Archive | October, 2010

Maybe This is a Runner’s High

19 Oct

When I got home from work today, I was in the mood for a run. I spent the last hour of work reading Runner’s World newbie articles (shhh, don’t tell my boss) and was ready for some walk-jog-running action. Even though I was in the mood for a run, I wasn’t quite in the mind set where I was ready to open up my heart and prance around the room shouting “I love running!”

No. I was prepared. I was prepared because I knew this run was going to suck–because I’m new at it or because I’ve never been one for running. I just knew it was going to suck. I was even planning on writing a post about how much running sucks and calling it “I Fucking Hate Running.”

As usual, I made myself go out anyway.

I went to the park near my house for the first time. (Walk-jog-running in grass is better for me because of my cranky knee. As grass=good, hard asphalt=BAD BAD OW.) I was a little put off by the park at first because there were some men playing tennis when I first got there. As I began moving, my brain started blabbering at me: “Oh they’re laughing: they must be laughing at you!….Maybe your pants are falling down and you can’t tell. You should stop running and check…..Hey, they must think you have a really fat ass….”–but I shut that part of my brain down and kept slogging forward.

What I found as I teetered away from the dudes playing tennis (who may or may not have still been laughing at me), over little hills and through patches of mud, was that the park goes deeper than I had imagined. I discovered that if you cross the street cutting through the park and keep running, that there’s a pond surrounding by flowers with a small dock hidden back behind the houses. When coming over the first crest of a hill, the almost full moon hovers full and bright over the tree line. I was no longer thinking about the fact that my lungs hurt or that the people inside the houses might see me running along. It did not occur to me to be embarrassed. I was happy to use my body to propel myself forward and to be a small part of the world surrounding me.

 

I went home. I did a little yoga. While sitting in meditation afterwards, I came to the conclusion: Running is fucking awesome.

 

All Hail the Pumking

19 Oct

If it could be fall forever, I would be perfectly happy. It’s not too hot like summer and not bitterly cold. The air is crisp and clear. The weather is perfect for scarves and light coats.  The boyfriend and I celebrated the arrival of fall here by going for a walk around a local reservoir. I took too many pictures and it was generally a great way to enjoy the outdoors, each other, and get in some exercise.

Fall is the time of year with some of my favorite seasonal foods and drinks. Fall beers are spicy and malty–just warm enough to counteract the cool weather but with some bite lurking at the edges. Also, I am an unabashed lover of all things pumpkin flavored. Naturally, this encompasses pumpkin flavored beer.

By far the best pumpkin beer I have found is the Southern Tier Pumking.

It’s not light in the alcohol content, after all it is an imperial ale, coming in at a strong 9%ABV. However, the taste is so light and crisp that the alcohol flavor is completely masked. I’ve tasted beers with less ABV that have more alcohol flavor than this beer. The body is surprisingly light and when poured the beer has an unmistakable orange color (like a pumpkin!).

Where other pumpkin beers are heavy, spicy and dark, this beer is a perfect balance between the pumpkin flavors and the pumpkin pie spices. I prefer my pumpkin beers to be on the spicier side usually since it’s so hard to get the pumpkin flavor right in beers. Pumpkin by itself can often end up with a beer that tastes too weak and too bitter. I want to be reminded of a good pumpkin pie when I drink a pumpkin beer. However, an over reliance on spices can make a pumpkin beer cloying after a few bottles. The Pumking is the one pumpkin beer I have found that I don’t get sick of as I drink more of it. I spent a very happy Saturday afternoon sipping this beer in my backyard.

 

When I woke up on Sunday, pumpkin beer alone were not doing enough to sate my desire for pumpkin flavored food stuffs: I wanted to bake. So I took to the internet to find the pumpkin baked goods that I could make with the limited provisions I had in my house. As soon as I ran across this recipe for Sugarlaw’s Pumpkin Pie Cookies, I knew I had my baking project.

I did not have the pudding mix the recipe called for, so I substituted 1/4 cup brown sugar. I also didn’t have any cloves and replaced them with 1/4 tsp ground ginger. The cookies were surprisingly good. I think I ate three as soon as they came out of the oven (oops…). If you like cakey cookies, these are perfect. They taste like fluffy pumpkin pies. Delicious!

Adventures in Smoothie Making

15 Oct

A few weeks ago, I was living off of Kashi granola bars for breakfast. These were not exactly nourishing enough for a person who has to go to work and be functioning. When I heard about smoothies for breakfast, I was a little dubious. Would you really not be able to taste spinach if you added it to a smoothie? (Yes.) Can a smoothie really be enough to last to lunch time? (Yes!) Looking at some of the recipes floating around the internet, a green smoothie seemed more nourishing than a granola bar. Also, adding spinach to a smoothie would also bring me closer to fulfilling my goal of having a fruit or veggie at every meal, so I decided to go for it.

My first foray into smoothie making, I wanted to go for a pumpkin smoothie. It is fall after all and my favorite organic grocery store has started prominently featuring canned pumpkin again.

Naturally, as soon as I saw the display, I remembered that I needed to make millions of things with canned pumpkin (curry! soups!) and bought more than is probably advisable for the average person. What can I say, I love me some pumpkin. I’d also been craving a pumpkin smoothie and none of my local grocery stores are carrying the Odwalla pumpkin smoothies that I love.

I also added Chobani Greek yogurt in vanilla the first time around.

Now, this might be okay for some of you all out there who like sweetened yogurts. However, I hate sweetened yogurts with an undying passion and this smoothie just tasted too much like sweetened yogurt for my liking. Generally, I consider the first smoothie a failure since it was too gross to eat much of.

I also tried making a smoothie with avocado, but it ended up tasting a little too much like avocado for my tastes. I think if I had used a fruit juice instead of almond milk, it would have been better. Instead, it just tasted like a weird healthy milkshake. That was gray. Because, apparently, if you add frozen blueberries to a smoothie with avocado and spinach in it, it will turn gray. Ew.

For my third try at smoothie making, I added Fage regular Greek yogurt (aka my new best friend and best thing ever) instead.

My hate for sweetened yogurts is really only matched by my undying love of unsweetened Greek yogurt. And the non-fat version doesn’t taste terrible! Most reduced fat/ non-fat cheese or milk products are pretty horrible and I never eat them. For Greek yogurt, the non-fat version seems even tangier and delicious than the full fat kind. Bring it on. This final try with the pumpkin smoothie went better. I was able to create something that tasted good, so good that as soon as I was done I wanted more. I will be making more of these in the future. The recipe for the successful smoothie is written below.

Eating smoothies in the morning has really been great. I feel more energetic after having one. I find I don’t need as much caffeine to wake up. I feel full, but not overly full. Overall, an awesome new discovery.

Pumpkin Smoothie:

1/2 can of pureed pumpkin

1/2 cup of Greek yogurt (sweetened or unsweetened)

3/4 cup of almond milk

2 TBSP chocolate protein powder

1 TBSP light agave nectar

1 TBSP flaxseeds (optional; ground flax would also work here too)

1 cup frozen raspberries

1/2 TBSP cinnamon

1/4 TSP nutmeg

Enough spinach to fill the blender

Directions:

1. Blend*

2. Eat!

*If you have a terrible** blender like I do, I would recommend blending all of the wet ingredients first. Then add the frozen fruit, flaxseeds, and spinach. Creating a liquid base for the bulkier items seems to prevent the blender blades from getting clogged up.

**My blender really is terrible. I got it for free from an old landlord who was trying to get rid of stuff. The motor smells faintly of smoke, which gets worse when you turn it on. Also, I don’t have a top for it because I dropped it while moving and it was so old that it shattered when it hit the ground. One day, my blender will die in some other spectacular way, but for now it still makes a decent smoothie.

Thoughts (Which May or May Not be “Deep”)

13 Oct

I was initially hesitant to write about this in my blog, but I’ve decided that I should probably just go for it.

Yesterday, I did not want to exercise. Seriously. At all. My brain was making up any excuses it could not to tie on my running shoes and actually jog for however long it would take me to run a half a mile. I’d just got off a bad day at work where my concentration was shot and my anxiety was pretty high. I do have generalized anxiety problems and some days are worse than others. Yesterday was one of the worse days (yet another reason to cut down my caffeine intake); I almost started crying when I realized I had signed and dated some documents with the wrong date (weird, I know). Since I was pretty much an anxious blubbering mess, I did not want to exercise. Maybe I would do some relaxing yoga, but there was no way the jog-run-walk was going to happen.

But I got home from my after-work Target run and put on my shoes anyway. The thing that got me there what I wrote about in my earlier post: wanting to run a 10 minute mile. (Which is still super far away I might add.) The only way that is really going to happen is if I just slug it out and work out on the days I say I will. I also wanted to listen to a new podcast that I had just downloaded and I was only going to let myself listen to it while I was exercising. Apparently, this setting goals and rewards thing actually works.

During my jog-run-walk time though, I got thinking about what was contributing to my anxiety. Yeah, I was having a tough time at work. But I had also spent a lot of the day planning what I was going to write in this blog. I had a whole post about Greek yogurt and smoothies planned out in my brain and I wanted to include what exercise I did yesterday as well. Pretty much, it would have been one of those “this is what I ate today and this is what I ran today” posts. As soon as my brain stopped wanting to exercise, I jumped to the conclusion that my post was now ruined. So my anxiety got worse.

However, it occurred to me that: my post didn’t have to be about what I ate today or how awesome my run was because that was just not true. What was true for me was I spent a good couple hours debating whether I would actually exercise today and being pissed off at myself. Why couldn’t I write about that? And in a total DUH!-moment I realized I could. I could write about whatever I damn well please. I don’t necessarily want this blog to turn into a rundown of everything I ate today. That’s kind of boring for me to write…though I am leaving it open for future posts if I have a particularly interesting day of eating. This is also not to say that I don’t enjoy blogs that do post primarily “what I did today, what I ate today” type posts. I find those blogs inspiring. I wouldn’t be typing here if I didn’t. But for me, I don’t think that type of blog is going to be healthy or helpful in my own little headspace.

So instead, I can give you this: a blog about whatever I am thinking or feeling that day. It may be about a new exercise I am excited about or a new awesome food that I tried. There will be a post about Greek yogurt at some point because it is the most amazing thing ever. Ever. Seriously.

But this really is going to be my journey. I can’t copy anyone else and get where I am going.

(By the way: I completed my half mile in 12:53 this time. Something of an improvement.)

Some goals (and a first post!)

11 Oct

Hello all, I’m Kat…

The idea of healthy living blogging is new to me. Sadly (or perhaps not), the catalyst for this blog–something which I view as throwing my hat into a ring already filled with many caring and capable voices–was the now infamous Marie Claire article. I read it; then I read the blogs that it was supposedly based on. And I didn’t see any of the negativity that the writer seemed so intent on conveying. Hey, I used to be a journalist; I know that type of article only comes out of a writer who is angling for something from the beginning.

But I digress.

The Marie Claire article got me reading….and reading….and spending way too much time at work reading these blogs. And this got me thinking about my own health. I’ve always been health conscious; I just didn’t always pay attention that awareness. As my blog title states, I love beer. Love. It. Fall beers especially. Give me a mug of malty goodness and I am a happy lady. But too many nights being glued to the couch, beer in hand, does not engender the healthiest life and body. I can do better.

I am not a natural cardiovascular type athlete. I’ve never been a runner (though I certainly envy those who can). My yoga practice has been pretty much consistent for nine years, but I want to make it more consistent. This is not the blog where I will be recounting my weekly 20 mile runs. I’m just not there yet. I might be one day. I might not be. But finding out is half the fun (as the cliches go…).

So here are some of my goals for now:

  • Drink less! Drinking alcohol will never go away completely for me, but practicing moderation is something I could certainly be better at.
  • Run a ten minute mile. I am super far away from this one (it feels like). Right now, I can do a half mile in 13:36. Yeah, not great. But that’s more than I could do a few weeks ago.
  • Do yoga at least three times per week.
  • Eat a serving of vegetables or fruit at every meal. I’m pretty good for lunch and dinner, but I need more than just a granola bar and a Red Bull for breakfast.
  • Cut down on caffeine. Morning caffeine is not going away, but the mid-afternoon cup(s) of tea could be cut out.

Random awesome fitness thing for the day: While doing my post run yoga, I was able to put my heels completely on the ground during Downward-Facing Dog. I’m such a dork to be excited about this, but I am!  Normally, I get my heels at a 45 degree angle to the floor. This time I was doing lots of leg stretches, which must have warmed up my legs enough because…Bam! I pushed up into Down Dog and both of my feet were all the way on the floor. Best feeling ever 🙂

Exercise Today:

  • 13:36 minutes walking/jogging/running .5 mi
  • 20:00 minutes of post-cardio yoga