Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Embracing 2014 and how I'm ringing in the New Year

So I've decided to ring in the New Year by getting some of the goals and resolutions that I spoke about in this post yesterday - (I know, right? Two blog posts in a row!) rolling in the right direction.

The first thing I did this morning was to renew my membership with the Moms In Motion! They are an awesome group of women and a tremendous support - I feel lucky to be a part of the group.

MIMS! I'm bottom left with the arm warmers

Secondly, I took a bold leap and also joined the RTA (Ridgewood Tri Club). It seems like a very friendly (though very accomplished) Tri club and I have been stalking admiring them from afar for a while now. From the looks of the talent and caliber of athlete there I am a little nervous that I could be way out of my league. But I exchanged emails with the owner and she assured me that they are welcoming to beginners. Stepping out of your comfort zone is where you grow - right?

I then began to build my Whole30 pantry with some staples. For those of you who missed it, I'll be doing a clean eating detox program for 30 days beginning on Jan 2. It looks like a great program and it's based on the book "It Starts With Food." The program eliminates sugar, alcohol, legumes, grains, dairy, processed foods and gluten leaving you with all the organic meat, fish, eggs, coconut milk, veggies, fruits, (most) nuts, ghee, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and olives that you want!

I totally bought a cheap food processor (the one below was only $35 at Target) because I don't own one and a lot of good recipes for this plan includes using one. I also bought some vegetable peeler thing that will make zucchini into ribbons for this recipe I plan on making and also some homemade mayo.

Some of the other things I got was coconut aminos (reportedly tastes like soy sauce), coconut milk, coconut flour for thickening stuff, cashews, ghee, coconut oil, kalamata olives and a bag of sweet potatoes. Not pictured are a ton of eggs and some organic meats and veggies.

And in the spirit of Whole30 I made my favorite butternut squash soup that is totally made to fit the plan. It's yummy. If you are interested the Whole30 Butternut Squash soup recipe is here.

I've been hydrating with my very fancy Mom in Motion pink cup - my favorite!

Then I will head to the gym (when hubby gets home so I have someone to watch Ben) I will run my last run of 2013.

A few unhealthy things I'm doing today - I am polishing off some leftover pad thai as we speak and I'll be swilling in a martini or two as I watch the ball drop from the warm coziness of my couch!

Have a very happy, safe and healthy New Year!!

Are you doing any New Year prep today?


Whole30 Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

I've been making this soup all winter and let me tell you it's delicious. Warm, hearty and comforting.

If you are vegan*, Paleo or doing the Whole30 plan this is a great soup for you. (Vegans swap the ghee for coconut oil or coconut spread).

Jen's Butternut Squash Soup
2 medium-large butternut squash (pre-heat oven to 425 and roast at that temp)
1 medium onion (chop)
1 apple (preferably granny smith but I've used whatever apple on hand) (peel and chop)
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger (peeled and diced)
3 cups of stock of choice (I make my own homemade chicken stock)
2 cups of water
1/2 cup of coconut milk from can (or nut milk of choice)
1 + 1 tablespoon of ghee (or olive oil or coconut oil) - (might want to use a little more or less)
dried sage

That's my homemade stock - it looks funky because it's still defrosting

Cut open, spread one tablespoon (or so) of the ghee over the squash - sprinkle with salt/pepper and roast butternut squash face side up until tender. About an hour to an hour and a half.

Let the squash cool a bit. Meanwhile, in a large pot, sautee up the apple, onion and ginger until soft in the ghee or coconut oil. Sprinkle the apple/onion/ginger with salt, pepper and sage. (Season to taste I use about 2 - 3tsps. of sage.

Once cool enough to handle scoop the squash flesh away from the skin and add it to the apple/onion/ginger mixture along with the stock and water.

Stir and simmer to meld flavors about 10 - 15 minutes. Add the coconut milk.

Then use a hand immersion blender (or do in batches in a regular blender) and puree the soup until smooth and creamy.

This recipe makes a lot of soup. At least 8 decent sized bowls I would say. Maybe more.



PS: After taking the picture of the ingredients I read that the canned coconut milk in the picture (Goya brand) has Potassium metabisulfite in it. I couldn't find out if that was Whole30 compliant so I used another brand I had on hand that I know is compliant.

PSS: Turns out that the Goya coconut milk is definitely NOT Whole 30 compliant so I'm bringing it back to the store!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Reviewing 2013 goals and looking ahead to the New Year

Happy New Year! 

Fat to finish line on The Today Show! I'm in the hat bottom rt

In January 2013 I ran Ragnar Miami with team Fat To Finish Line and we were even featured on The Today Show! But even with how awesome that experience was (It was one of the best events of my life), I seriously cramped and couldn't complete the 10 mile run during my second leg and that bummed me out. That first experience of 2013 kind of summed up the year - one of extreme highs and lows. 

I also participated in my first of two triathlons, (getting back in the water and on a bike) and managed to keep moving forward. I had some tough days - I've struggled with weight and running as far/fast as I might want.  Here's the overall gist on the year: 

These were the set of goals I wanted to focus on last year - here is how I did:
1. Run more miles this year. In 2012 I ran 721 miles - my goal for 2013 is to run 722. - Ugh. Somehow I only ran 520 this year. I chalk that up to running a few less half marathons this past year and also training for my first triathlons - instead of always running many workouts became swimming or biking focused. Still - this is pretty weak - I'm aiming for 722 in 2014 again! 

2. Run faster?  No way - not even close. But to be fair I didn't focus on speed and didn't make it a priority. 

3. Cross train seriously. I will be taking yoga, boot camp and incorporating more strength training into my regime. I consider this somewhat successful. I did make a better attempt at boot camp, yoga and stretching - I will continue to focus on this and this is a big goal of mine in the new year. 

4. Maintain my goal weight. Total fail - I struggled with weight this year and am over goal as of right now. It's been making me feel really low and yucky about myself but I'm working on shaking off the feelings of failure and getting my groove back - this topic is it's own blog. 

5. DRINK MORE WATER! Seriously. I have such a hard time with this but in 2013, hydration will be my bitch. Up and down - had some really great "water" streaks and had some times where I was woefully under-hydrated. Hydration is huge for me -- must continue to work on it. 

6. Keep this blog going. Yup. 

7. Eat even cleaner. Nope. Probably ate dirtier but will be cleaning up my act for 2014 

8. Track my food at least one week a month (will help me with #4 and #7 and keep me on my game) - this would've been a great idea if I remembered even making this a goal!  So, no this didn't happen. 

9. Run 4 half marathons and at least 2 5k races - to keep training for stuff. - I didn't run four half marathons I ran two halfs, 1 10 miler, 2 sprint triathlons and a few 5Ks - I'm OK with my race schedule. 

10. Run another full marathon? Maybe. Once again I will throw my hat in the ring for NYC marathon. If I get in, I will train. I have no other plans to run a full right now - with a new TV show in the works and the film -- I don't want to fully commit yet… (I know that's lame.) Nope. But I'm re-entered in the NYC marathon lottery so maybe that will happen this year. 

11. And I know this is lame too. I still really want to try a tri. I am still struggling to figure out a bike and pool solution. The gyms with pools are literally 3 and 4 times more expensive than my gym and way out of my budget. Now if some of these projects we are working on generate some money, maybe I can afford to take that plunge - sometime. We'll see. Still putting it out there in the universe just in case I can make something happen. I did this!! Finally something I can proudly check off! I did this twice - I sucked up the expense, joined the better gym and trained. I'm going for it again in 2014 and am already signed up for REV3 OLY Poconos! 

Looking ahead to 2014 here are my top goals:

1. Get back to my goal weight and clean up the bad eating habits I fell into over the course of 2013 - I plan on achieving both by doing the Whole30 program as outlined in "It Starts With Food

2. Run / Swim / bike more miles and take training more seriously - I'd like to run at least 2 halfs and do at least 2 triathlons. 

3. Continue to cross train / boot camp / strengthen up

4. Continue to blog

5. Continue to focus on water

6. Be more kind to myself. The last few months I've struggled with weight, food, running and training for various reasons. I am realizing that because of this it's easy for me to slip into feelings of shame, depression, beating myself up, feeling failure, etc. It's not even consciously most of the time. I have to believe I'm not a good or bad person because I've had a perfect food or workout day. And these feelings don't really lead to anything productive. 

Even though it was a far from perfect year I am grateful for it all. It was still an overall successful year. My son is improving, our finances are taking a turn for the better, my company sold and aired it first television show (that has a series pick-up!), I made a goal to TRI and did it. So even though there were some tough times I still can consider 2013 a great year!   

How was your year? What are some of your goals for 2014?


PS: Beginning on Jan 2 I am going to attempt to blog for 30 days in a row as I document my journey doing the Whole30 program. I talk about the program in my last post found here.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Turning Crappy into Happy Somehow

I know it's been a long time and I don't really even know where to start.

A whole lot of stuff and a whole lot of nothing has happened since the last time I decided to write.

My son (who I spoke about in this post about autism is doing GREAT on his new gf/df diet and is thriving. More about him in an upcoming post - but I thought I should let you know that he's been doing well and we've been turning corners on that front.)

Ben writing a song and my messy kitchen 

OK - So enough of the chit chat. Back to the running and stuff.  Here's the real deal of how I'm feeling about myself lately:


No other way to say it.

I feel like a fraudulent, blobby, can't-stop-eating-barely-running, bloggless blogger.

I have excuses (semi-valid ones too) I'm traveling (in fact I'm back in KY shooting our show as I write) and as I travel I feel guilty and miss my family - and I've been busy. I also started a 'holiday' running streak which got cut short because of a really weird pain I've been getting in a tendon around my inner ankle and was fearful of injury so have been running shorter and slower.

But no excuses can really take away the fact that I'm eating way too much crappy foods. When I lost the bulk of my weight I did a great job at sticking to mostly whole foods and cut out all the garbage-y processed cruddy stuff. I felt great eating like that. I never felt deprived.

But slowly but surely over the course of the last few months (year?) I started to add more and more 'convenience' foods back. Only I've been fooling myself because I've been justifying these choices because they aren't the 'obvious' processed foods I once ate. The foods I'm eating now tout organic and gluten-free labels. I buy them at places like Whole Foods and Fairway. They are pricey and not the Lean Cuisines and cheap foods I once ate. BUT the issue is that these convenience foods pack in lots of calories and fat grams and are still not as nutrient dense as just eating whole foods. They might be a quick meal made with organic chicken and organic gluten free noodles but often you're still left feeling hungry or un-satiated so you reach for more.

To make matters worse, all of a sudden I'm snacking on things like "organic coconut-milk ice-cream" or gluten free crackers (where I once snacked on fruit or a handful of nuts.) Both which has too many calories with little nutritional payback.

I also went Dairy free a year or two ago but have let that seep back in.

Annnnnd I am drinking too much. I don't think I yet need to attend meetings but I would be lying if I didn't tell ya that I like to have a glass (or two) of wine a few times every night of the week and on the weekends I make myself my dirty martinis. All those extra empty calories are adding up too. I didn't really drink when I lost my weight - not so consistently anyway. On the weekends here and there but not nightly.

I'm running a little bit here and there 2 or 3 times a week I guess (but they've been shorter runs) and it's just not enough to come close to cover all these calories.

And where does that leave me? Carrying at least 10 extra pounds (I haven't been on a scale in a while), tighter pants and feeling pretty yucky about it all.

Luckily, I have a plan!

My Moms In Motion Running Coach Dana recommended a book she is reading on our MIM FB page called, It Starts With Food. She said it was a healthy eating approach meant to kind of detox and reset your body by eating healthy foods. So I checked it out. At first I thought no fucking way that it would be really challenging because the program is very strict with 0 room for slips or cheats. No alcohol, No gluten, No grains (including 'healthy' grains like brown rice, oatmeal or quinoa), no dairy, no legumes like: beans, corn, lima beans, chick peas or peanuts and absolutely no sugar in any shape or form (including artificial sweeteners, honey, stevia, etc.) Also no artificial stuff at all - no MSG, Carrageenan, etc (that I've been on board for, for a long time), also no white potatoes.

No wine? No hummus, no brown rice or black beans even. Ugh. Poop. No way. What is this un-Godly and ridiculous diet? I mean what's so bad about quinoa and beans???

But the more I read the book the more I felt it was worth really sucking it up for 30 days and doing it. This plan isn't about the weight loss it's about reducing inflammation, healing your gut, balancing your insulin levels, etc. It's about getting your body to optimal health and then slowly reintroducing your body to some of the foods you eliminated for the 30 days. Turns out there are really good reasons to eliminate these foods and see if they are effecting you or not.

What can you eat? Organic eggs, meat, poultry and fish. Sweet potatoes, all the squashes, all the vegetables and fruits that you want, healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, ghee and even clarified butter as well as some nuts like cashews, macadamias and hazelnuts…. oh. and thankfully, coffee. (I am not sure if I could've given up wine and coffee so this program does have a little mercy.)

You can read more about the program here at the Whole9.  You're supposed to do it for 30 days.

The testimonials from people in the Whole9/It Starts with Food community are astounding. You can eat when you are hungry there's no calorie counting or anything. There are plenty of guidelines and I'm enjoying the book.

I've decided that I'm going to do this for the entire month of January. I need to reset my body. I need to just kind of break free of all the bad habits I've quietly and gradually slipped into. I don't think that 'moderation' will really help me right now (I'll only drink on Saturdays or I'll just have some gluten free bread once or twice a week…) I feel like I need to go cold turkey on most of these things.  If I tried to just "cut down" on smoking it wouldn't have worked either. I know me. I like all of the foods on the "can" have list so I will just have to celebrate and enjoy what I can eat instead of lament about the can't have stuff. The alcohol is going to be hard. But I have faced hard before. Quitting smoking, dealing with a child with autism, losing 100 pounds -- all pretty hard. It's going to make me healthier and stronger and I'm worth doing something hard for.

So let me know if you're interested in giving something like this a shot too. Maybe we can do it together. I am planning to blog daily (or close to it) about this new journey and I'm excited about it.

Have you ever heard of this program? Tried this?


PS: For the record this is entirely of my own doing. In fact I reached out to the book people to request a blogger copy of the book for review (hey, worth a shot!) and was denied so I payed for my own book and am doing this sheerly because I want to see if this will help me. Every opinion on this journey will be entirely my own.