Strong and Fit – Not Skinny and Weak

I’ve have always loved being an athlete. I love being competitive, pushing my body beyond its comfort zone, and being strong. While I love being strong, I hate how our society views “strong girls” as masculine. Why can’t they just see us as fit and dedicated?

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Someday’s I find myself letting society take a hold of my vision as I look at myself in the mirror. Instead of embracing my strength, I often think… “do I have feminine muscles or am I becoming a meat head?” I know the answer to this question, but dang society does a good job of making me question myself.

Then, God brings people into my life that remind me that “there’s nothing wrong with being strong.” This weekend I wore a strapless dress for my best friend’s wedding, and I instantly wanted to hide my shoulders with my hair, but I was convinced otherwise by my mom. I sent her a picture showing off my hair and dress, and her first comment was, you look beautiful… and no, your shoulders don’t look too buff. I didn’t even have to ask she just knew what my mind was thinking.

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Then today I was taking another Aerial Fitness class with my friend and colleague, and at the end she ranted about how she envied my strength. I just laughed because she has an amazing yoga figure, why would she envy my strength? I had to take a step back and thank God for giving me this body, this strength, and this dedication. I’m done spending so much time criticizing my muscles, and rather embracing what they allow me to do.Let’s all make an effort to redefine beauty. It’s about being strong and fit… not skinny and weak.

Summer Fitness Bucket List

Well, it’s been a while my friends. I’ve been taking a little break on the blog to focus on life, but hoping this is the end of the break. I’ve been venturing into trying new workouts lately. Don’t worry, I will never ditch running and lifting, but I created a summer bucket list of different workouts I want to try so I am making my way through that list.

The first one on my list was Aerial Fitness at AIR in Lincoln Park. Aerial Fitness is a combination of yoga, pilates, barre, and cardio done in a hammock. I won’t lie, I underestimated this class. I thought I would leave wishing I had just gone on a run, but AIR shocked me. Fifteen minutes into the class I was sweating, my heart rate was up, and my arms were burning.

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My friend Halsey and I went to Cat’s class, and she’s the real deal. She had us doing tuck jump pull-ups with our hammocks for 1 minute (4x), lunges, and a bunch of fun tricks on the hammocks. At one point Halsey (a crossfitter) and I looked at each other with one of those what the heck did you get me into faces. Needless to say, I was so sore Thursday.

I also have been venturing into yoga more lately. I spend a lot of time with yogis at work, so I guess you can say they inspired me. I am so close to mastering a forearm stand (handstand on your forearms).

Everyday I practice against a wall, and Saturday I got brave after my 9 mile run and tried it without the wall. It went well for 5 seconds… then I got so excited because I held it and fell straight on my face. Best part is I wasn’t using my mat, so I now have carpet burn on my nose and forehead.

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Yep, laugh it up… I’m embracing it because I am one step closer to holding the difficult pose. It’s back to wall practicing for me this week though, so my face can heal up for my best friend’s wedding.

For those of you looking for a change up in your workout, I highly recommend visiting AIR in Lincoln Park or River North. You won’t be disappoint. In the mean time, stay tuned as I continue to explore all of the fitness classes Chicago has to offer.

Clean Plate Club

If you were to eat breakfast with my husband and I you would notice a difference between our oatmeal bowls. Mine looks like I nearly licked it clean and his has a few oats stuck to the side. I’m sure your first thought is, who cares? I didn’t care at all until I started to think about why our “clean plate club” statuses are on different levels.

I guess it all started 6 years ago when I faced eating problems. I’ve talked about it a few times on the blog, but in a nut shell I counted every single morsel that went into my body. I freaked out about every calorie, and I did the opposite of fueling strong. During those times I would make a bowl of oatmeal and eat every last drop, literally using my fingers to get the last remaining oats on the side of the bowl. It’s not like those spare oats even filled me up or offered my body energy, but in my mind those oats were 2 calories that I had allowed myself so of course I was going to eat them.

The same goes for sharing my food. If Kyle were to ask for a bite of something on my plate, I would literally feel my mood deflate thinking that he was “stealing” calories from me. Little did he know, that I had carefully planned that meal out to equal exactly 300 calories. Sometimes, I have still have a hard time sharing my food because my mind still thinks that I’m sacrificing calories, but I’m working on it and growing every day.

So why do I bring this up? No real reason, it was just an observation and trip down memory lane to figure out why I still eat every morsel of food on my plate for the meals I prepare. Even though I have recovered from those evil days of eating problems there are still parts of it that continue to sneak up from time to time. That darn devil always comes a knockin’.

Basil Frittata

Happy Friday! Why not kick the weekend off with a healthy breakfast? It’s a known fact that if you start your day with a healthy breakfast you are more likely to continue to eat healthier throughout the day.

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Today I have a recipe for a healthy frittata that will rock your world. It looks more like an egg pie, but I’m trying to get fancy with naming it, so frittata it is. I originally tried Cooking Light’s version of this dish, but altered a bit to fit my taste. You’re going to love this healthy breakfast packed with kale, basil, and red potatoes. Enjoy!!

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Basil Frittata
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Yellow Onion, Chopped
  • 1 Garlic Clove, Minced
  • 1 C Kale, Chopped (Spinach can also be used)
  • ⅓ C Skim Milk
  • 2 T Fresh Basil, Finely Chopped
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 4 Large Egg Whites
  • 2 C Cooked Red Potatoes, chopped
  • 1½ T Panko Bread Crumbs
  • ½ C Mozzarella Cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a Dutch Oven or skillet heat up the Extra Virgin Olive Oil and sauté the onion and garlic for 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add the kale and cook until the kale is tender. Use a colander to drain off any liquid and let cool.
  4. In a large bowl combine the eggs, egg whites, milk, basil. Whisk together.
  5. Add the vegetable mixture and potatoes.
  6. Spray a 10 inch pie pan with cooking spray, and pour the egg mixture in it.
  7. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and cheese.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes or until the middle is set.
  9. Preheat Broiler and broil for 2-3 minutes.

 

Pause to See the Effect

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As many of you know, this journey back to running post injury has been difficult. It’s been a slow progress. I went from running 7:30 miles to 10 minute miles. It’s discouraging, but I’m finally starting to feel like myself again.

Last Thursday while I was out on my run some random men invited me to run with them. I’m not one to join strangers, but I knew I had to turn around in 5 minutes, so I said what the heck, why not? Little did I know they were booking it. They had us running around a 7:45 minute mile, something I had not done since November. Amazingly I kept up with them effortlessly. Of course once I turned around I went back to my 8:50 pace to ensure that my foot would make it home, but I spent the rest of my run thanking God for bringing those men along. I am confident it was God’s way of showing me that I will get back to where I was, and I still have a little speed in me despite recovering from injury.

Two days later I hit 8:36 and 8:14 miles at miles 4 and 5. Five months ago this would have been normal, but today it’s a huge step! I ran with no doubts, and just let my feet guide me. It’s clear that my patience and hard work is paying off.

It’s all about patience in the game of running. As my dear friend Andy told me, “Running is like a great speech. Sometime you need to pause for the effect.”  My pause was a lot longer than I ever intended, but it helped me to learn more about myself as a runner.

The Start of Living Healthy

Have you looked at Abe’s Market Instagram account this week? They have been posting highlights of their employee’s moms  and how they helped them explore a healthy lifestyle.  I love the idea, and decided to copy it for my mom.

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Growing up my mom took us apple and blueberry picking every year. Little did she know, that by doing this she helped me learn the importance of fueling with fruits and vegetables. She made fruit an exciting experience by picking it ourselves, and to this day I swear nothing tastes better than hand picked Michigan apples or blueberries for the Blueberry Ranch.

My mom also introduced me to whole grains before they were popular, and she always made sure that sweets were a treat not a regular option in the house.

Mom, thank you for introducing me to healthy foods and fine wine. You set us all up for a path of success both in our active lifestyles and for life in general. I love you!

Boosting Metabolism with Matcha

You may have noticed that I took a little blogging break. For the past 3 weeks I opened up a new post to write, and my creative juices stop flowing. It was feeling forced, so I took a step back. At one point I was really building up my blog to become a business, but now I want to take it  a day at a time and just write to inspire and to help others live a healthier life.

In addition to that my life has been hectic lately. Between work, coaching, grad school, working out, and trying to maintain a social life there has been little time for blogging. Thankfully my schedule is starting to clear up a bit, so that leaves more time for chatting with you.

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Source

Today let’s talk Matcha. Every Sunday we go to David’s Tea to try their innovative teas. I usually go for their spiced black teas, but last week I changed it up a bit by trying Matcha. I was hesitant at first since it is isn’t nearly as fragrant as the others teas I’ve tried from Davi’ds, but the amazing sales woman had be convinced when she started to educate me on the health benefits.

Matcha tea benefits

For those of you who have never heard of Matcha, it is comprised of green tea leaves. They are ground into a  powder substance and dissolved into hot water rather than steeped like other teas.

Some of its health benefits include:
- Energy: Matcha has the caffeine of 10 cups of green tea, but it doesn’t make you feel jittery.
- Detoxifier: Detoxes the body of harmful toxins.
- Boosts Metabolism and aids in fat burning
- Lowers  LDL (“bad”) Cholesterol

Make sure when you are making matcha that you use either a milk frother or bamboo whisk to fully dissolve the powders. Also don’t dissolve it in boiling water because it will have a bitter/grassy taste. Instead, boil a pot of water and let it sit for 5 minutes, then combine the matcha and water.

 

The Finish Line

Did anyone else watch the live coverage of the Boston Marathon yesterday? I watched the elites finish and tuned back in a little later to see some of the other amazing runners cross the finish line. As each and every person crossed the finish line, I found myself getting teary eyed. Part of those tears were or joy seeing Boston bounce back after tragedy, but the other reason I cried is because I relived my marathon finish over and over again.

My marathon finish wasn’t what I expected it to be since I was so delirious from dehydration, but it was still an overwhelming feeling that I cannot wait to experience again. A feeling of relief, joy, astonishment, exhaustion, and pride all wrapped into one experience.

It’s starting to hit me that I won’t have that feeling again this year, but I’ve grown to be content with the fact that a marathon isn’t in the game plan for 2014. It has helped me to relax with my running. I am in no hurry to rush the healing process. I’m just taking it a day at a time, listening to my body… okay, listening to my foot, and dreaming of the next time I toe the start line.

Congrats to all of the Boston Marathon finishers. You are so inspiring!!

 

One Year Later

One year ago, I sat here crying as I watched Boston Marathon runners run for the barricades rather than for the finish line. I felt helpless, but yet I felt united with my fellow runners. As many of us suspected then and can confirm now, tragedies do not hold runners back. We are all about overcoming adversity, that’s why we run marathons. It’s not an easy task, but it’s a challenge that we choose to engage in.

With the Boston Marathon approaching next Monday, I am overcome with joy watching the victims of last year’s marathon rise from ashes. Many were told they would never run again, but just read the stories, and you’ll see how their determination is once again allowing them to toe the start line.

I admire their courage. I can’t imagine the emotions they and every other runner will feel at the finish line. This year’s finish line isn’t an end point. It’s a destination. It’s a symbol of a determination, dedication, and uniting together to keep the running community whole.

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I dream of running through the Boston Marathon finisher’s shoot, and until then I will continue to be a Boston Marathon runners at heart.

Staying On My Mat

For the past month and a half Wednesday’s have been my Power Yoga Days. My gym has a 6AM class that I was never able to attend, but with my new  job I have a little more time in the morning.

I love Power Yoga. It is not relaxing by any means, but boy do I leave sore every time. Some days the instructor kills us with chatarunga push-ups, other days we kills the legs. It’s always changing and challenging.

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As a typical Type A athlete, I am a perfectionist. I am always thinking about my next move, and my mind is running a million miles a minute. Yoga doesn’t allow me to do this. I have to leave my Type A personality at the door, and only focus on my breath and body for 60 minutes. Doing this is the most challenging part for me because I want to think about what I need to do for work that day, but I am forced to focus.

I also have to check my competitiveness at the door. Yep, nearly impossible. I live for competition, but I can’t be competitive in yoga. It’s about keeping my focus on my mat and doing what my body allows me to that day. I envy these extreme yogis who practice everyday and wish I could do every inversion, handstand, arm balance like them, but I’ll get there. It’s just like running, I didn’t go from 0 to 20 miles in a day, it took time, patience, and repetition.

I have a long way to go, but my practice teaches me something about myself every day.

Have a great day my friends. Namaste.