My workouts lately…

This is, perhaps, one of the first times over the past 8 years that I haven’t felt like training for a half marathon or a 10k.

This quite honestly caught me entirely by surprise, as I’m usually planning my days of summer around the local races.  But right now, the thought of training just exhausts me.  I’m wondering if this has something to do with how busy I’ve been lately.  Between my work schedule and studying for my master’s, the last thing I want is to have to be working towards something else.

That doesn’t, of course, mean that I’m giving up on exercise completely!  I need fresh air to make me feel good.  And I still like working out first thing in the morning before work.  But instead of focusing on running 5 days a week, I’ve been focusing on just being active with something different every day…this has been both fun and healthy.

Here are some of my favorite workouts lately…

1. KettleBells

I’m falling in love with kettle bells.  I find I get a lot accomplished in a short amount of time, and I love that I’m training muscles that running never honed in on.

2. Wearing a pedometer.

This is for those days when I don’t fit in a morning workout.  I slip on my pedometer and make it a point to rack up the miles at work.  This means walking to the furthest bathroom.  Taking the stairs.  Taking the long route back to my office.  My goal is to try and hit at least 10,000 steps for the day.

3. Running.

I still run, because I love it so much and it’s a fabulous workout!  Instead of 5 days a week, however, I’m focusing on running either a short & fast run or a long & slow run, about 2-3 times per week.

4. Biking.

Now that it’s summer, I’m falling in love with biking!  It’s a fabulous workout and a nice change of pace from running.  I like to pedal to the medal at least once a week.

5. Hiking, Tennis, Kayaking, Swimming.

Exercise is supposed to be FUN!  At least once per week, I like to switch things up and do something completely different than my normal routine.  This usually happens on the weekend, when I’ve got the extra time to head out and do something spontaneously fun!

6. Walking.

Never underestimate the power of speed walking!!  This is one of my favorite ways to work out these days.  It’s especially nice after a tough kettlebell workout, when running just isn’t possible due to sore hamstrings. ;)

7. Yoga.

Once or twice a week, my mom and I do yoga together.  It’s a great way to stretch out tired muscles and it’s a fabulous full-body toner.  My arms are my weak zone, but consistently doing yoga has made me a much stronger person.

QUESTION: What your favorite workouts lately?

To Paleo or Not To Paleo…

source

What is Paleo?

The diet encourages the consumption of what our ancestors were believed to have eaten as hunters and gatherers, such as meat, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, etc.  The diet discourages the consumption of foods that are considered to be primarily part of the modern day, post-agricultural “westernized diet” or “SAD” diet (Standard American Diet,) such as milk, grains, refined sugars and legumes.  Promoters of the Paleo Diet believe that these are the primary foods that have led to an overweight country, which have burdened us with an ever growing health care crisis.

Followers of the Paleo Diet claim that by eating the foods we were evolutionarily developed to consume, we can lower our risks for developing chronic diseases while also improving digestive problems, eliminating acne, increasing energy levels, etc.  They further claim that we can lose excessive body weight, thanks to the fact that we’ll be eating the foods our bodies have been programmed to fully digest and absorb.

Diet Do’s and Don’ts…

Do Eat…

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits (in moderation)
  • Nuts and Seeds (in moderation)
  • Wild Meats (grass fed beef, chicken, venison, etc.)
  • Eggs
  • Coconut, grass-fed butter, avocado, etc.

Do Not Eat…

  • Refined, Processed Foods (chips, donuts, soda, cereals, candy bars, snack foods, etc.)
  • Refined sugars
  • Juices
  • Grains and breads (quinoa, oats, bread, barley, etc.)
  • Legumes (beans, lentils, soy, peanuts, etc.)
  • Dairy (yogurt, milk, cheese, etc.)

Nutritional Basics…where do my calories come from?

Paleo Diet:

  • 30-40% Fat
  • 20-30% Carbohydrate
  • 35-45% Protein

…vs…

2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans:

  • 20-35% Fat
  • 45-65% Carbohydrate
  • 10-35% Protein

Behind The Research…

Despite what some will tell you, research surrounding the Paleo Diet is still in its infancy stages.  While some research has pointed to low carb, paleo style diets possibly improving blood insulin sensitivity, blood pressure and improved lipid profiles, we do not yet know the long term effects.

However, in the research article Saturated fat, carbohydrate, and cardiovascular disease in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was found that refined grains such as white pasta, white breads, etc. have more of a negative effect on our arteries than does saturated fat.  Whether or not we should be eating like a caveman, it’s important to realize that refined grains just aren’t good for our overall health.

The Diet’s Health Advantages:

  1. Excludes sugary and processed foods.
  2. Reduces sodium intake.
  3. Encourages produce consumption.
  4. Encourages weight loss.  By avoiding sugary, processed junk, you’ll inevitably shed some excess pounds.
  5. Focuses on real, whole foods.

The Diet’s Health DIS-advantages:

  1. May be difficult to maintain for a lifetime.  If the thought of giving up cheese forever and ever and ever sounds horrendous to you, this diet plan may be a flop.
  2. No large studies done to analyze long term effects.
  3. Contradictory evidence.  We’ve known for quite some time, the health benefits of following a Mediterranean Diet, full of fish, fruits, veggies, healthy fats and…YES…whole grains, legumes and some dairy!
  4. Possible nutrient deficiencies, such as calcium.  Paleo promoters claim that we don’t need as much calcium as once thought.  However, there is no evidence to back up this claim and it’s important that anyone going on the Paleo Diet be smart in choosing the right foods.

The Bottom Line…

The Paleo Diet does offer some health benefits.  However, it also requires some professional guidance in order to avoid nutritional deficiencies.  In addition, it is unknown what health effects the diet has over a lifetime and it may be difficult for many to follow for long periods of time.

Research is important in helping us unlock the secrets of health, but it was never meant to be the ultimate decision on how and what we eat.  There will always be conflicting reports, and it is important that we not base our diet solely on a trendy diet or on the newest research study. In finding that so-called “perfect” diet, we still need to remember the importance of making changes that will last, while also finding a lifestyle that will feel balanced and satisfying to us as individuals.

QUESTION: What do you think of the Paleo Diet?  Have you ever or will you ever try it?  Why or why not?

Rockport, MA

Rockport is one of my most favorites places on earth.

I’ve talked about this quaint little New England town many times, but I feel as if I could still gush on and on about it.  It’s one of those places where something new is always waiting to be discovered.  A little cove.  A beautiful view.  Some secret “hiding” spot.

My parents and I have a tradition of visiting Rockport, MA at least once a year.  It’s sort of an unspoken tradition, actually, but we’ve been following it since I was a freshman in college.

I hope this tradition never stops.

My parents have another tradition of stopping at “Top Dog” for lunch…

The Top Dog is this little restaurant at the corner of a side street, which you’re very likely to miss if you don’t keep an eye out.  Their menu has everything from the “seeing eye dog” to the “german shepherd” to the “chihuahua.”  Each ‘breed’ has a different topping, like macaroni and cheese or sauerkraut or vidalia onions & carrots.  The Top Dog also happens to have some of the best fried clams that I’ve ever had the delight of tasting.

(Tradition says we split a box of clams every time…don’t you just love traditions?)

I also ordered a hummus wrap from my favorite lil’ lunch spot: The Bean and Leaf Cafe.  They have the best Ginger Peach Iced Tea and their hummus wraps simply refuse to let me order anything else, despite their other tempting menu items.

The whole wrap was about the size of my head, but I still had plenty of room for some mint patty icecream!  Perfect for a hot, “summer” afternoon.

Till next year, Rockport!

You’ll forever be the town that holds my heart.

QUESTION: What is one of your favorite places to visit (within your own state)?

 

Then and Now.

I was recently looking back at my old blog from 2007 and found myself feeling amazed at how much I’ve changed over the years (good and bad!)

It can be fun to reminisce.  To see where I’m coming from.  To set goals for where I’m going.

THEN:

I weighed 117lb and I was trying hard to gain weight.  I worked hard to consume well over 3000 calories a day and yet I was still not gaining an ounce.  This lead to some health problems and “weighed” on me psychologically and physically.

NOW:

I weigh 135-140lb and have been maintaining this for the past couple of years.  This is my “set point,” where my body feels happy and I don’t feel the need to lose or gain.  It’s my happy weight!

THEN:

I counted calories and measured EVER-Y-THING!

NOW:

I eat intuitively and I’m too busy to anything. ;)

I rely mostly on what I call “eyeballing.”

THEN: I ran 3 miles, 3 days a week.  Rain, snow, sleet, shine.  I was completely devoted and wouldn’t have dreamed of missing a scheduled run.  I definitely enjoyed running but it was also sort of a love-hate relationship.

NOW: Even though I run more mileage these days, I feel much more relaxed in my routine.  If I need to miss a day because there’s a meeting at work?  Okay.  If I feel like taking a week off just for the sake of taking a week off?  Okay!  I also try to fit in alternative workouts, such as yoga, biking, hiking, etc.

I also have more fun with my workouts.  I run because it makes me deliciously happy.  Not because it’s on my to-do list.

THEN: I ate a lot of convenience foods.  Carnation instant breakfast.  Granola bars.  Frozen pizza.  “Light hotdogs” with beans.  Etc, etc, etc.

Slowly I transitioned into being a more health conscious eater.  However, I was less of a foodie and more of a “this is good for my body so I’m going to eat it.”  I enjoyed what I ate but I also kept myself in a box.  I went through spurts of being a vegetarian and then a vegan, which I loved, but I still felt restricted.

NOW: I’m still a health conscious eater, but I have broadened my horizons.  I’m somewhere in the middle of being a health nut and a foodie.  I like eating locally.  I still eat mostly plants.  But I also include cheeses, bacon, chocolate, and butter in my life.  And when I do eat meat, I like to support the local farms that raise and treat their animals well.

THEN: I loved and adored the Kodak camera that my parents had purchased for me.  I used it until the camera began to make funny noises and literally had a crack in the screen.  I took my camera with me anywhere and everywhere that I went.  And, for the record, I still hold on to it for sentimental reasons!

NOW: Photography became more than just a hobby.  I wanted to learn more about exposure and aperture and shutter speed.  I wanted to do more than just snap ‘n’ shoot.  I wanted to tell a story!  I still have so much to learn within the avenue of photography, but I’m happy to say that the Kodak was eventually replaced with a Canon Rebel which I love, love, love!

Then: I was happy.  I loved college.  But I was less certain of my future and who I was as an individual.  I felt that I had to prove myself in several different areas of my life.

Now: I’m more sure of myself.  The older I get, the more that I have peace with who I am.  I feel strong, healthy, happy.  Self questioning has been replaced with self confidence.

My family (as always,) mean the world to me.  They stand beside me through everything and they encourage me to be the very best version of me.

They have always been, really and truly, my inspiration.

Some things never change.

QUESTION: What are some of the ways that you have changed  over the years?

 

Old Country Pie.

It was a rainy afternoon, just starting to clear up.  Birds were singing.  Leaves were dancing.  And the smell of lilacs was wafting through the open kitchen window.

What a day.

What a day to bake and cook and throw some flour around the kitchen.

I used to be the girl who had a lunch everyone seemed to envy.

“Oh, what do you have today, Sarah?”

There was homemade sushi, homemade curries, and stuffed cabbage leaves.  New flavors, new trends, new ideas.

These days, it seems that I’m the one envying the other lunches, as I pull out a sandwich or salad.  Again.

Time often gets the best of me, and creating a meal from scratch hasn’t been a big part of my life.  Yes, I still cook on the weekends.  And I love getting creative with leftovers or making myself a special breakfast to celebrate any ol’ day of the week.  But more times than not, I’m relying on quick and easy and healthy convenience meals.

On this particular day, however, I got my hands dirty (so to speak,) and made the Old Country Pie from Moosewood Cookbook.  It was filled with cabbage, broccoli, mushrooms, and DILL (my new favorite herb addition to everything and anything.)

This recipe was a little time consuming from start to finish.  I’d recommend having someone chop while someone else makes the crust.  But when all is said and done, you’ll be sitting down to a delicious meal that everyone else will be envying.  Well worth the effort.  Enjoy!

Old Country Pie – adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook

Serves 4

  • 1 unbaked 9- or 10-inch pie crust (recipe below)
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1-1/2 cups minced onion
  • 1 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 lb mushrooms, chopped or sliced
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 medium stalk broccoli, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp. dill
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 cup lowfat cottage cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 medium scallons, finely minced
  1. Prepare pie crust (recipe below.)  Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Heat oil in a medium-sized skillet.  Add onion, caraway and salt; saute over medium heat until the onions begin to brown (10-15 minutes.)
  3. Add mushrooms, cabbage, broccoli, carrot, and dill; saute until everything is just tender – about 8 more minutes.
  4. Stir in pepper, garlic, and flour; cook, stirring, for just a few minutes more.  Remove from heat.
  5. Beat together the cottage cheese and eggs.  Add this to the saute along with the scallions and mix well.
  6. Spread into the unbaked pie crust.  Sprinkle with paprika (optional) and bake for 40 minutes or until set.  Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Pie Crust

  • 6 Tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • about 4 Tbsp. cold water (may need a little additional water)
  1. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, or a food processor, cut together the butter and flour until the mixture is uniformly blended and resembles coarse cornmeal.
  2. Add just enough liquid to hold the dough together.  Roll out the dough and form a crust in a 9 or 10-inch pie pan.

NUTRITION NOTES (per serving): 450 calories, 5g fiber, 15g protein

QUESTION: Do you cook a lot during the week?  On the weekends?

Currently Eating.

I slept like a baby last night.

All this fresh air and gardening has me plain tuckered out.  Thank goodness for HUMP day!

Thank goodness, also, for larger than life salads, which fills me up and helps me get all my veggies in.

I always layer the usual lettuce, tomato, cucumber.  But lately, I’ve also been adding…

  • avocado
  • broccoli
  • vidalia onion
  • fresh salsa
  • feta cheese
  • big ol’ scoop of hummus!!!

Eaten like so…

I’m a fan of these trader joe’s whole wheat pita breads.  They do get a bit crumbly by day 4 or so, but they honestly don’t usually last that long in this house anyways!

QUESTION: What are you eating a lot of these days?

Post-Midterm Relaxation.

It’s honestly slightly frightening, how much information I’ve forgotten since going to school for my undergrad.

Things like the “cephalic” phase of digestion.  And phospholipid bilayers.

Oh, and organelles.

Hello,nucleus and mitochondria.

I suppose I can console myself with knowing that this memory refresher course might actually help me remember things for the long term.  Although, that probably isn’t likely.  Next year, you’ll probably mention ribosomes and I’ll look at you as if you have two heads.

Needless to say, this exam was a doozy, as I found myself having to study all of this material that I once knew but had now forgotten.

I strategically planned a “vacation day” around when I knew my midterm exam would be.  In between going to the ocean and soaking up all that beautiful sunshine, I also needed to do some last minute studying prior to taking my midterm exam yesterday.

Yep.

This girl needed some relaxation after a very full week of studying and working!

My form of relaxation involved going for a quick morning run followed by going plant shopping with my mom!!!

Our eyes may have been a little larger than our garden, so to speak.

We came home with 12 big beef tomato plants, 6 cherry tomato plants, 6 kale plants, 6 pepper plants, 3 butternut squash plants, 6 cucumber plants, and 6 hot pepper plants.  Not to mention the lettuce, spinach and beet seeds!!!

Oh.

And the flowers, which my mom was pretty excited about.

We followed up the day with some good ol’ Panera.

I had my usual.  Strawberry Poppyseed Salad with a whole grain baguette.  It hits the spot every time.

Back to work tomorrow!!!

QUESTION: How do you like to spend your days off from work/school/etc.?

My Weekend.

My brother Matthew graduated with a Master’s Degree in Education and Special Needs.  Lots of hard work and dedication right there!  Of course it was a good reason to celebrate.

Not that my family needs a reason to celebrate, but…you know.

My brother’s girlfriend, Kelsey, rented this awesome pavilion up in Kittery, Maine.

The proud graduate and the proud parents!

Photo Credit: Nicole @ Just Live It

The forecast predicted rain, rain, rain.

The actual forecast?

Sun, sun, sun!!

Me (on the right) and my sis.  Love this girl!!

I’m pretty sure I could live near the ocean.  The sounds of waves splashing against the rocks, mingled with the cry of seagulls.  The smell of salty sea air.  That delicious breeze.

The ocean is where my heart is.

Photo Credit: Nicole @ Just Live It

The day was very active, with lots of walking and sightseeing.

And yummy food.

And grilling competitions.  ;)

And photography.

A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.

With all the leftovers we carried home, I couldn’t resist having two days worth of this delicious grass fed beef.

There’s a farm up my street that raises grass fed angus beef and I swear it tastes 100 times better than any beef I’ve ever had.  Their love for animal welfare and quality definitely comes through!

The weekend felt like a mini vacation.

I am officially full to the brim with beef and sunshine and happiness.

Fully recharged for the week ahead.  Here’s to summer!

QUESTION: What was the highlight of your weekend?

 

3 Labels That Drive A Dietitian Crazy.

1. “Gluten Free.”

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye (and most oats which have been cross contaminated with wheat.)  Unless one has celiac or a wheat allergy, in which going strictly gluten free is imperative for one’s health, foods containing gluten do not need to be completely avoided.

Some people state that they feel better since going gluten free.  That they bloat less, have more energy, etc, etc, etc.  Then, by all means, go for it!  But be warned of the placebo effect, which can can be caused by expecting to feel differently with a certain diet.  And don’t expect that going gluten free will cure all that ails you.

The simple truth is that many gluten free products contain little fiber and less nutrients than their wheat containing counterparts, which is not helpful for weight loss/maintenance.  Unless going “gluten free” is due to health implications (e.g., celiac,) enjoy your whole wheat sandwich at lunch.  Guilt free!

2. “All-Natural.”

From eggs to crackers to salad dressings.

People everywhere are looking for “all natural” products.  Have you ever wondered what this really means?  Yeah.  Me too.

There’s actually no formal definition for this term.  The USDA and the FDA allow the term to be stamped on packages as long as there is no “misleading” information and is “minimally processed.”  If the product has no “artificial ingredients” or “added color,” it will probably have an all natural stamp next to its name.

The simple truth is…this tells you nothing.

For example.  An “all natural” package of eggs does not tell you what the chickens are eating or how they were raised.  An “all natural” package of chicken breast does not tell you if the chickens were treated with hormones or injected with saline solution.  An “all natural” flavoring in your salad dressing could very likely have been made in a factory by a group of scientists.

Don’t let yourself buy into the “all natural” craze.  If you’re looking for “all natural,” know where your meat comes from and get to know what those ingredients are in your products.

3. “Fat-Free.”

This is my favoritest of my least favorite label list. ;)

Crackers, breads, cookies, you name it.  They all have this stamp of approval (FAT FREE,) as if to lure you in as being “healthy.”

The simple truth is what we’ve known for quite some time…that there are good fats and bad fats.  If a salad dressing is made with canola or olive oil?  Good fat!  If a box of cookies has trans fat (or partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient list)?  Bad fat!

Many products that boast being fat free are loaded with sugars and funky ingredients in order to make up for the lack of flavor.  This tends to bring the caloric level right up to the same level (or more) of its full fat friend.  Yikes!

Do yourself a favor and include a little fat in your life.  We all need a little fat in our diets for nutrient absorption and for overall health.  Not to mention flavor.

QUESTION: Do you look at labels on the outside of packages?  What lures you in to buy a product and what turns you off?

The beginning of summer.

Say hello to the newest addition in our garden.

Way back in January, when New England was still underneath a tower of snow and ice, I began dreaming of sunshine and warmth and gardens.  My dad began dreaming with me, as we discussed the idea of having raised beds.

Raised beds are the golden standard for any gardener.  They offer a much needed seat.  They hold in moisture.  They allow ample space for roots to dig down deep, deep, deep.  They’re convenient, resourceful and (when done correctly,) they promise less weeding time (huzzah!!)

We both spent a good, “non-stop” kind of 3 hours putting this together yesterday.  My back and arms are sore today and it feels absolutely delicious.  I love that natural feeling of being achy and tired after a day of physical work.  I love getting my hands dirty.  I love watching those winter dreams become a summery reality.  And now, thanks to dad’s guiding expertise, I love using power saws (who knew?)

Here’s to the beginning of something great.  Here’s to the beginning of summer.

QUESTION: Will you be growing a vegetable and/or flower garden this year?

…keeping it real.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 314 other followers