Thursday, November 29, 2012

There’s Something About Mantras

It seems as though it’s uphill, downhill for me. Don’t get me wrong, today was a good run … a strong run. I ran 6-miles at a 9:27 pace. But as soon as it began, I couldn't wait for it to be over. It didn't help that a gym pal (who was also running 6-miles beside me) asked midway how much longer we had to go. That’s a situation where “like-minded” isn't necessarily a good thing. It would have been better had she channeled Lou Gosset’s character in An Officer and a Gentleman and screamed, “Pick it up, loser!”

I felt as though I spent 50-something minutes trying to distract myself from the time I had remaining. I had been watching The Good Wife on my iPad. I wondered what it would be like married to “Mr. Big” (aka Peter and Chris Noth). Is he as handsome in person as he is on screen? And why the blonde highlights? Is he filming a movie? I also couldn't help but notice how thin Julianna Margulies looked in her black pencil skirt. What’s her work out routine like? Is she a runner? Does she eat?

I was thinking of anything and everything to push this run along. I even checked my time frequently. I never let myself do that.

Then I remembered my mantra. “I can do anything for 10 minutes.” When I run, regardless of how long, I break my mileage into 10-minute intervals. When I start to tire, I say to myself, “I can do anything for 10 minutes.” It doesn’t matter if I have 50 minutes left to go. Just getting through the next 10 minutes helps. It’s a push ... and it works.

For those of you unfamiliar with mantras, it’s a simple word or phrase that you repeat mentally while you’re running in order to achieve a goal.

When I take a hill, as another example, I repeat to myself over and over again until I reach the top, “I eat hills for breakfast.” I even bought a shirt with those words as a reminder.

For me, my mantra is my “kick in the butt” because it gets me over whatever hurdles I'm facing and to where I want to be.

Do you have a mantra … a key word or phrase that puts zip into your step? What do you do when you’re tired or bored and want to quit? How do you forge ahead? Is there a person you think of who inspires you to keep pushing forward?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Say Hello to Day 17!

I’m just over the halfway mark of my 30-day workout challenge. I feel great, but then again consistency has always worked for me.

For the past 17 days, I've been alternating between 3-7 mile runs and cardio/strength training combos. It feels so good to be back! It’s benefited me in absolutely every-way -- physically, emotionally and mentally. And what the hell ... I'm saying it ... sexually too!!! The more secure you feel, the more sexual you are. That's how it works!

The truth is I'm always at my best after a work out. It sets the tone for my day. I feel more motivated, confident, happy, alive and sexy. These are all amazing feelings!!!

In fact, my husband can tell immediately when I fall off the wagon and let more than a day or two go by without hitting the gym or pounding the pavement. He describes me as being "a little off” and he zeroes right in on it every time.

Well, today I'm “on” and I expect that trend will continue tomorrow, the day after tomorrow and so on.

Here’s to turning 17 days into 30 … no excuses!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

When You Think You Can't, Think Again

My words can't do this video justice. It stands on its own.

Watch and be inspired.

Candle 79 Lights Up My Life!

I love food. I also love going out to eat. Years ago, I was thrilled when a friend told me that “dining out” was a hobby … a hobby! Can you believe it! It made it sound so much more important and meaningful.

Being a healthful vegan hasn’t changed my love of food or restaurants. If anything, my love has flourished.

As I wrote in an earlier post, following Thanksgiving, Matt, Sienna and I stayed overnight in Manhattan. For us, a visit to the Big Apple always means a visit to Candle 79. The restaurant takes my breath away. It’s every vegan’s paradise! 

Though the menu is small, I still find myself overwhelmed because I want one of everything. The appetizers are ridiculous, from Vegetable Nori Rolls and Butternut Squash Ravioli with garlic spinach, crispy capers and cashew cream, to Steamed Dumplings with seitan, shiitake mushrooms and baby bok choy in sesame-ginger soy sauce.

Matt and I chose the dumplings and Angel’s Nachos, which were prepared with corn chips, “mozzarella,” tomatoes, guacamole, refried pinto beans, chili-grilled seitan, salsa, tofu sour cream and romaine lettuce. What I loved about the nachos was that the corn chips were limited (to about 10). Corn chips are a huge vice for me. I can eat a whole bag, so limiting them is a good thing, plus it allows me to redirect my attention to the foods that count and really experience the full flavors of the dish. Both appetizers exceeded our very high expectations.

For our entrees, Sienna enjoyed the Spaghetti with Wheat Balls in truffled tomato sauce, roasted garlic, spinach and cashew parmesan. My friends will tell you that I have never been a fan of the meat version. But this impressed … so much so that I can’t wait to duplicate it at home (thanks to my copy of the Candle 79 Cookbook). I would put this up against the traditional “Spaghetti with Meatballs” any day of the week. Sienna raved about it, even to her brothers the next day.

Since I’m a huge fan of tempeh, it came as no surprise that I chose the Pomegranate Chipotle-Grilled Tempeh with sweet potato gratin, sautéed brussels sprouts & haricots verts, almonds, shallots, mole sauce and fennel salad. The presentation was beautiful and the dish satisfied but I think I would have enjoyed it more had I not tried Sienna's and Matt’s entree. One taste of both and I couldn’t get them off my mind.

By far, the bomb of the evening was Matt’s pick … Seitan Piccata with creamed spinach, grilled potato cake and oyster mushrooms in a lemon-caper sauce. My taste buds were doing back flips and I have thought about this dish non-stop since we left. It was perfect. He and I actually swapped our plates half-way through our meal. I think he felt badly watching me salivate from across the table.

For a side, we ordered Polenta Fries, which never disappoint. Sienna freaked over them.

As for dessert, Matt had the Homemade Ice Cream and Sorbet Sampler, while Sienna and I lost our minds over a Chocolate Chip Cannoli with a small scoop of ice cream each (I had coconut, she had French vanilla).

Every single course was out of this world. Is it any wonder we went back for brunch the very next day?

I think Michael J. Fox sums up Candle 79 perfectly. “You can look at it as ‘eating healthy;’ we think of it as ‘eating happy.’ In a fast-paced, fast-food world, Candle 79 offers an oasis where delicious food nourishes the body and a warm caring spirit nourishes the soul -- and try the Seitan Picatta. It’s incredible.”

Monday, November 26, 2012

ELF for HEALTH Challenge

It’s an interesting sport running, in that when you find others who run you immediately have something to talk about … something to share. It doesn't matter your performance differences either. For example, Ryan’s teacher is an accomplished competitive runner. While she can run circles around me, we still share a connection.

Last week, she turned me on to the website nutritionella. It chronicles the experiences of a food, fitness and fashion-obsessed R.D.-in-training. I liked her website immediately. It has great recipes, many of which I can eat or at least modify to eat, and really cool workout ideas. What caught my eye, though, was a program called ELF for HEALTH -- a six week challenge that runs from the Monday after Thanksgiving through the first week in January. Now I jumped in late in the game ... round one is currently taking place, but nutrionella has assured me I am good to go for round two, which begins Dec. 9.

As an ELF, I’ll support the holiday health goals and daily challenges of my “assigned” buddy via e-mails. For example, I may choose to share a scrumdiddlyumptious whole-food, plant-based recipe, an inspirational quote or my own personal tips & tricks. I’ll also likely check-in with my buddy to see how she is meeting her challenges and fitness goals, as well as share my progress and experiences. How amazing is this! What's more, someone will be my ELF for HEALTH, doing much of what I described up top for me. This program is such a great opportunity to meet like-minded people, build a support network and expand my knowledge of health, wellness and fitness.

Elves & buddies are reassigned every two weeks. Oh, there are also daily tasks, daily winners, prizes, weekly newsletters and a Facebook support group.

Best of all, absolutely anyone can join!

I encourage you to think about becoming someone’s ELF for HEALTH this holiday season. I think it'll be fun and rewarding in more ways than any of us can imagine.

To learn more, visit nutrionella. You can also follow Ryan's teacher's blog, The Runner's Palate, on Blogger.

We All Start at the Mailbox

Alas! My first running blog post to my town's online community news site, Palmer-Forks Patch! I plan to contribute regularly, welcoming and encouraging new runners to the sport. You can follow my musings on the site itself or right here.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


I ran hard today, finishing 6 miles at a 9:21 pace. I haven’t felt that strong or held that pace steady on a 5+ mile run in a while. My goal is to run a full minute faster (@8:21 pace) so I have some work to do over the next month, but I am relishing today’s little victory.

Given how good I felt, I think I could have run at a 7.00 speed the entire time. Having said that, I consciously decided to start off at 6.00 MPH and ease myself into it since I performed so poorly on yesterday’s 3-miler at the NYC Marriott (which I ran at a 10:00 pace). For whatever reason, I felt sluggish and overheated almost as soon as I began. It quickly turned into an obligatory run, but one that I was happy I finished.

Tomorrow is Monday so I’ll cross-train and hit my shoulders, legs and core.

I love my core work, by the way. A couple years back, I bought the Gaiam Abs Ball Kit, which is a really great tool to strengthen your core and abdominal muscles. I grip a two-handled, 8 pound ball and perform a 12-minute workout (you can choose beginner or advanced), with exercises that target my upper abs, lower abs, obliques and total core. Seven-time Iron Man triathlete Jonathan Roche takes me through the entire work-out. He’s very fit and also sweet on the eyes. ; ) It’s been a great investment and I highly recommend it. I hit my core whenever I lift, which is typically every other day.

Tell me about your workout today. Did you focus on cardio, strength training or a solid mix of both? Do you find it more or less challenging to get motivated on Sunday mornings? What are your workout goals for this week?

My Top 10 Favorite Movie Scenes of All-Time

I’m going completely off the rails for a moment, putting running, working out and nutrition on the back burner to talk about something fun … movies!

For no particular reason, I started thinking about the most memorable scenes on the silver screen. In fact, I've been obsessing about it for days, trying to come up with my top 10 list.

As I wrote in an earlier post, Matt and I are HUGE movies buffs. Each year, we look forward to fall because that’s when the Oscar-contenders are released.

Don’t even get me started on the Academy Awards -- I look forward to the event every year. When I was younger, I would draft speeches of what I would say if I ever had the opportunity to be on that stage accepting an award for best actress, supporting actress, director, original or adapted screenplay, etc.

Movies mean something to me, I guess. I drift away in my mind for a while. I’ve always liked that.

Below are my top 10, with a few runners-up. Let me know what you think. Am I off the mark? Should one, two or more of my picks be bumped off in place of other stand-out scenes? I can talk movies all day. Quid pro quo. ; )

Saturday, November 24, 2012

No Excuses!

Life has been a whirlwind since Tuesday … and I've loved every minute of it. I’m going to give you the play-by-play but I’d like you to hang in there with me because it leads somewhere.

Kicking off the pre-Thanksgiving festivities was a Brownie visit to the Old Orchard Nursing Home in Easton on Tuesday. As part of a Girl Scout community outreach program, our troop spent time making crafts with the residents. Ultimately, the craft project ended up being the icing on the cake. It was the presence of each Brownie the residents needed most. I actually became emotional introducing the girls as I looked out and saw all those beautiful faces just looking for something as simple as a conversation and someone to hug. For every person that receives a visitor, there are probably 10 who don’t. I couldn't have been more proud of how the girls interacted with all of them. They brought sparkle, energy and fun to the room and everyone there ate it up!

Oh, did I mention Ryan also broke his finger today?

On Wednesday morning, I worked Sienna’s second grade tailgate party. Some background … the annual Thanksgiving event in our town is the Easton/Phillipsburg football rivalry. The entire district makes a huge deal out of it, complete with a Wednesday evening bonfire at the high school, so naturally the elementary schools get into the mix to cheer the Easton team to victory. They celebrated with food, face painting, tattoos and homemade pennant designs.

Thursday was the holiday so the day started early, cooking and getting everyone ready for a 1 p.m. dinner at my sister’s in South River, NJ.

Matt and I headed into Manhattan with Sienna early Friday afternoon for an overnight stay. The boys stayed back to spend time with their cousins (neither had any interest in seeing Elf on Broadway, which is where we would spend Saturday). We visited American Girl Place and then had dinner at the hottest vegan restaurant in Manhattan, Candle 79 (more on 79 in an upcoming post).

Saturday was an early brunch followed by the reason we were there -- Elf the Musical (which, by the way, was absolutely delightful … the perfect event to usher in the holiday season).

I am sharing these logistics with you for a reason.

Prior to making my 30-day workout commitment, I absolutely would have used all the things I had to do this week as excuses to not workout. I would have said I didn't have enough time. Few, if anyone, would have challenged me. In the end, I would have missed at least four days of running/lifting/cross-training.

The truth is, even with a full schedule, I had time. Yes, I had to squeeze a workout in here and there -- like on Wednesday when I woke up extra early to run before readying the kids and myself for school. It was also a drain waking up early this morning to workout in the hotel gym, which was small and very hot. (I started to sweat profusely about 6 minutes in and Matt thought about bagging the entire run a half mile in. Thankfully, he didn't ) We also had to park Sienna on a weight bench while we ran.

We made the time because we committed to do so. Working out has to be a priority because when things are important, we do them. No excuses!!

It’s a good mantra to say when you begin to think that working out can take a back seat to every other area of your life. It’s also important to keep top of mind that regular work outs help you attack those other areas with greater speed, agility and ease. It makes you perform better physically and mentally.

It's Saturday night now and our streak continues ... Day 9 for Matt, Day 13 for me.

Take the 30-day challenge with us and adopt the “no excuses” mantra. You can’t be half in. Full throttle, baby. Are you game?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Uh-Oh. My Pants Shrunk!

Today started off great. I was up and at 'em at 6 a.m.

By 9: 30, I had put away three beautifully smelling and wonderfully tasting dishes that vegans and omnivores alike would love.

What came next was a 4-mile run, courtesy of the treadmill in my basement that I'm happy to say does more than just collect dust. I took it easy, coming in at just under a 10-minute mile. (BTW, this is day 11 of my 30-day workout commitment.)

Then it was off to shower and dress to get to my sister's for Thanksgiving dinner by 1 p.m.

So far, so good ... right?

I picked out a pair of pants that I hadn't worn in a while and ... they were too tight. So I pulled out a second pair. No go. I ended up defaulting to another that I knew fit perfectly because I had worn them very recently.

The moment was like ice cold water being thrown into my face, and I didn't like it. I'm running, cross- and strength training ... OK maybe not as hard as I have in the past, but I'm in a much better groove now. I also adhere to a whole-food, plant-based diet. What could be the issue, I wondered.

Remember that formula I mentioned a couple posts back -- fewer calories in, more calories out? The answer is simple. I'm eating more that I should. And I know the culprits -- peanut butter and avocados.

I eat way too much of both and while they come with health benefits, they are high in calories. Let me explain how much is too much.

Insofar as peanut butter, I average three apples a day, all with PB and definitely more than a tablespoon at a time. Two tablespoons is about about 200 calories and 16 grams of fat.

Let's talk the green fruit -- I eat about 1-2 avocados a day. I add it to almost every lunch and dinner. A medium avocado is about 240 calories and 32 grams of fat.

Way. Too. Much.

I'm in a good place now. Slip-ups ground me. They remind me that being fit is a daily commitment and you have to approach it with common sense. Just because something contains nutrients that are good for you, doesn't mean you can overindulge. You have to play it smart ... cool. More importantly, you have to understand the nutrition facts of the food you eat. And if you do overindulge,'s going to cost you -- more time at the gym, on the path or wherever it is you workout.

And "more time at the gym" pretty much describes my morning tomorrow ... seventy-minutes of cardio combined with strength training (core, triceps and chest). We call this the "post-Thanksgiving workout."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Top 10 Reasons I'm Thankful

Thanksgiving is a perfect time to remember those people, places and things that make your life absolutely wonderful! Here's my top 10 ...
  1. I woke up this morning.
  2. I can run.
  3. A continued commitment to a whole-food, plant-based diet.
  4. Avaya: For giving me the gig of a lifetime and allowing me to do what I love from home. Eight years and counting ...
  5. Jon Stewart: He makes me laugh. He makes me think. And YES ... he's where I get my news.
  6. Pumpkin Spice Soy Latte: Thank you Starbucks for coming up with the perfect concoction that leaves me looking forward to fall.
  7. Edamame, Homemade Baked Kale Chips and Peanut Butter: My three all-time favorite snacks. Oh how I adore all of you!
  8. A small circle of friends who tell it like it is, rally by my side without having to ask and who continue to inspire me in every way imaginable. You know who you are.
  9. A relationship with my mom and sister in which we feel comfortable enough to fight hard yet have the good sense to always forgive quickly.
  10. Matt, Dylan, Ryan & Sienna -- my remarkable family for making this beautiful journey with me. We love, we laugh, we cry, we fight, we have fun ... together. It's the best! Thank you for loving me and for overlooking (or at least pretending to overlook) all my CrAzY quirks and antics.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my beautiful nieces and nephews who make life fun and unpredictable, a mother-in-law who is an active part of our lives but who never interferes, and in-laws, cousins, aunts, uncles and new friends I've met along the way, all of whom add that something special to so many days throughout every year.

And, of course, I am thankful for you -- my readers. This blog has become a creative outlet for me, allowing me to break thru the corporate box I've been in for years. I hope in the future to have more dialogue between us so we can learn from each other, overcome obstacles and reach new milestones together.

I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Gobble, Gobble

Monday, November 19, 2012

This Run's for You

I'm a morning girl.

If I don't run or workout first-thing, it's almost always a miss. But not today ... thanks to you and you and you.

You keep me going. You keep me honest. You keep me committed.

Not only did I run 3 miles, but I finished at slightly over a 9:00 mile. I'm elated.

I still have speed work ahead of me and goals to be met, but this one felt good. Best of all, I kept to my 30-day work-out commitment.

This run's for you!

Plant-Empowered Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, Matt and I have been asked what we eat since turkey is off the table.

Thanksgiving is spent at my sister’s house. Both she and her husband are always very accommodating to our lifestyle throughout the year. However, we recognize the work that goes into preparing a Thanksgiving dinner when you’re trying to feed everyone the same meal, let alone having dietary preferences thrown into the mix. Plus, part of what makes the holiday fun is everyone injecting their individual flair and tastes into the mix by sharing their favorite or cultural cuisines.

To that end, we’ll bring a couple of whole-food, plant-based dishes that are delicious enough to be enjoyed by everyone.

Here’s what we’re making this year.

Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers: A wonderful blend of onion, celery, garlic and cumin, mixed with chopped spinach, diced tomatoes, black beans, carrots and quinoa and then stuffed into beautiful red and yellow peppers.

A word on quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) … quinoa has been cultivated in the Andes Mountains for more than 5,000 years and is recognized as the world’s most nutritious grain. It has about twice the protein of other grains, fewer carbohydrates and more healthful fats. It’s also a complete protein, containing all eight essential amino acids. This supergrain is gluten-free and rich in iron, calcium, potassium, fiber and lignans. I recommend cooking it with vegetable broth as opposed to water or ½ broth/½ water. It adds a nice flavor to it. Also, always make sure to rinse quinoa prior to preparing it otherwise it can have a bitter taste.

Polenta, “Sausage” and Mushroom Stuffing: This is a nice change-of-pace stuffing for which Matt can’t wait. He’s a huge polenta fan. If you’re unfamiliar with polenta as I was, it’s a coarsely ground yellow cornmeal that’s boiled in water to create a porridge-like substance. It tastes similar to cornbread and is quite tasty.

Field Roast is by far the best meat-alternative on the market. What makes it even more exceptional is that it’s made with whole foods, such as eggplant, Yukon Gold potatoes, onions and garlic, so it’s something I can incorporate regularly into our dinners, welcoming back such classics as "sausage" and peppers, and for our kids ... "sausage" and eggs. The taste sizzles!

This stuffing brings together the flavors of polenta, “sausage” and cremini mushrooms with onion, celery and a variety of seasonings such as fresh sage, parsley, rosemary and thyme and then an all-purpose seasoning blend. To add even more “oomph,” it’s cooked in vegetable broth and topped with pine nuts. Yum!

If I weren't a proponent of a whole-food, plant-based diet, these recipes would still make my mouth water.

Whether you're vegan or an omnivore, Thanksgiving desserts are a must! In keeping with that belief, we'll bring a pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake from our favorite local bakery, Vegan Treats. We've been steadily using Vegan Treats since 2011 for all our holiday/birthday cakes and cookies and they never disappoint.

Thanksgiving has always been a favorite holiday in large part because of the food. Our change in lifestyle has not altered that sentiment in any way, if anything it’s reinforced it. Plus, each year we get to add a couple more deliciously healthful “plant-empowered” recipes to our repertoire!

Gobble, gobble

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday Funday

Matt and I kicked off Sunday with a visit to the Y. I hit my shoulders, legs and core and finished up with a fat burning session on the elliptical, thus making good on my self-imposed “30-day work-out commitment."

Sundays are always spent together but for the past five weeks, Matt's been taking a drawing class at a local art school in Bethlehem (a gift from me). Today was his last class. In the 15 years we've been together, I've never seen him draw anything more than a sketch of a home renovation project. Each week, I'm more and more blown away by his talent. For his latest "work of art," he surprised me with a drawing of the chapel where we married (Historic Village at Allaire). Simply stunning. 

While Matt was channeling his inner van Gohe, I spent the day doing one of the things I love most -- cooking.

Chili always seems to make the perfect dinner on Sundays in fall and winter. My go-to recipe has been Emeril's Vegetarian Chili (which I “veganize”) but I was excited to try Kris Carr’s recipe from her new book crazy sexy kitchen.

What I love about this chili is the consistency -- it’s incredibly hearty with a combination of beans (black and kidney), potato, vegetables (onion, zucchini and kale) and ground seitan. (Seitan is primarily made of wheat gluten. It has a meatlike texture that makes it a good choice for people transitioning to a plant-based diet and looking to recreate dishes that traditionally include animal products. This is actually the first time I’m cooking with it. I generally avoid transition meats because they are processed. I added it today because Matt LOVES it so I thought it would be a nice treat. And … I was right!)

As it simmered, the chili gave off a wonderful aroma and the taste was spot on. The chili powder, cumin seeds and garlic came together perfectly. The maple syrup added just a touch of sweetness, which balanced the jalapeño pepper. The end result was a bean chili that I will absolutely try again and again.

Oh ... while the chili was cooking, I whipped up some baked kale chips. A wonderfully healthful snack that quickly becomes addicting. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Here are the recipes for both.

Crazy Sexy Bean Chili

1 ½ tablespoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 white onion
5 garlic cloves
1 jalapeño, finely diced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 ½ cups of ground seitan (or tempeh or finely diced mushrooms)
1 zucchini (diced)
Two 15-ounce cans black beans
One 15-ounce can kidney beans
One 14-ounce can crushed tomato (San Marzano recommended)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ bunch fresh cilantro (minced)
1 cup kale, chopped
Dice avocado (optional)

Toast cumin seeds in a dry soup pot on medium heat for 2 minutes or until you smell the robust aroma.

Add olive oil, onion, garlic and jalapeno. Stir consistently until the onion is golden and translucent.

Add the chili powder, seitan, zucchini and potato and stir well. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring to avoid sticking.

Add beans, tomatoes, water, maple syrup, sea salt and cilantro. Cover and reduce heat to low, allowing to cook 20-25 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Remove from heat and stir in kale.

Serve hot. Garnish with diced avocado.

Baked Kale Chips

Bunch kale
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Using a knife or kitchen shears, carefully remove the kale leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt.

Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 - 15 minutes.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

7-Mile Saturday/30-Day Challenge

What a great day for a run. That was my attitude when I woke up this morning.

The early autumn Saturday greeted us with blues skies and a brilliant sunshine. I laced up, dressed in my new winter workout gear, stretched and ran from the house with Matt pacing us.

When I run in cold weather, it generally takes about 1.5 miles or so for my lungs to settle in. However, for this path, the first 3 miles is a steady incline and we ran against the wind, both of which exasperated my breathing so it took a bit longer. Once the path leveled off and the wind was behind us, my lungs adjusted and the run felt good ... real good.

We finished the back 3.5 much stronger than the front. Total time was 70 minutes … so exactly a 10:00 mile. Not too shabby.

Tomorrow is my seventh consecutive day of working out. I thought I’d have some fun with my “streak” and set a 30-day challenge. This means I'll commit to engaging in a cardiovascular or strength training activity (or both) everyday until Dec. 11 … no days off.

Daily workouts aren't foreign to me. I worked out steadily in 2010 and 2011. I need to get back into that groove. I’m not one who excels when I’m “half-in.” I’m a "full throttle" kinda girl and I desperately need and want to get back there. Setting fun goals like this is one way to help me do just that.

Here's to Sunday's sweat!

Matt loves to buy me running sneakers & gear.
This outfit is his most recent purchase.
Lucky for me he has good taste. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

All Great Achievements Require Time

Maya Angelou always makes me think. Being in this blog space, I have my eyes and ears open for perspectives, trends, stories, etc. to talk about and share with you. So naturally when I read her quote today, I immediately started to wonder why so many of us don’t apply her words when it comes to optimizing the health of our bodies.

Cher once said that if a great body came in a bottle, everyone would have one. That comment also resonated with me because it’s true.

For most people, their Achilles’ heel is their weight -- and many are on an unending quest to watch that scale veer left. So why then do so many of us fail? The answer is exactly what Cher inferred in her quote -- we want a quick fix. We’re in search of the miracle “pill” that will enable us to shed 20 pounds in a week, without exercise and with minimal changes, if any, to diet.

I don’t care what the cover of this month's issue of Vogue or Cosmopolitan magazine teases or promises -- it isn't happening. The answer to weight loss is “fewer calories in and more calories out.” That’s the secret recipe … only it isn't so secret -- just inconvenient and a drain for many of us to hear.

When it comes to weight loss, why do people even think short cuts will yield long-term, sustainable results? They don’t in any other area of our lives.

Would anyone suggest that career growth and success can be earned without motivation, determination, hard work and a time commitment? Those who believe they’ll walk into a job straight out of college and be handed the title of CEO and a 6-figure salary are in for rude awakenings (unless, of course, they're Trumps!)

Now let’s talk time. Many people, especially moms (and I am one), like to blame not exercising on time, specifically that they don’t have any. We all recognize that moms are on 24/7. But if you’re saying you don’t have 30 minutes everyday to walk or run or train on the elliptical, you’re lying to yourself. And I know because in the past I have told myself that lie! We all go through ruts but it’s important while we’re in them to understand why and how we got there so we can work our way out.

If you have time to check Facebook, chat with a friend, write personal e-mails, watch television, etc. then you have time to spend nurturing your body.

Think of it this way -- you would never say you didn't have time to feed your infant. Regular exercise feeds your body. More than that, it feeds your soul. It benefits you emotionally and mentally. It increases your confidence and self-esteem. It makes you a better parent, friend, worker, spouse and lover. It enables you to excel in every area of your life.

All great achievements require time, that includes weight loss. And optimizing your health/fitness offers a bigger payoff than any other accomplishments you’re likely to experience -- it adds years and quality of living to your life.

Good Will Hunting

Today was a tough one -- not the run itself (that actually felt great) but getting “motivated” for it. For whatever reason, I didn't feel like running this morning. Maybe it was the 5 a.m. wake-up call, or leaving the warmth of my bed (and my husband), or knowing the cold weather that would greet me upon leaving the house -- who knows.

Thankfully, clearer heads prevailed and I was up and out the door.

I have a “fail-safe” plan on days I don’t want to run -- an iPad. The device is awesome because I can watch a movie at the gym and literally bang out 5, 6, 7+ miles without even thinking about it. (There isn't anything worse than running and checking your mileage or time every five minutes, wishing for it to be over before you even get going.)

This morning I popped on Good Will Hunting and ran for 60 minutes. How 'bout them apples! I took the pace slow (just over a 10-minute mile), but had some fun near the end, jacking up my speed to 6.8 and then 7.5 for a little more than a half mile. I felt strong!

Giving in to an extra hour in bed and blowing off a run would have felt good at the time, but I would have regretted it the rest of the day.

The runs/work-outs you don’t want to do are the ones that matter most.

What do you do on days you can't get motivated to work-out or run? Are there times during the year when a lack of motivation is more or less? Do you have a "fail-safe" plan to get you going?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

crazy sexy kitchen

I've been “impatiently” waiting for Kris Carr’s crazy sexy kitchen to arrive. And as I excitedly thumbed through the pages earlier this evening, it did not disappoint.

For those of you unfamiliar with Carr, she’s a New York Times best-selling author and health advocate. On Valentine's Day 2003, at the young age of 31, Carr was diagnosed with an extremely rare and incurable Stage IV cancer called epithelioid hemangioendothelioma, affecting her liver and lungs. With the slow-moving nature of her tumors, Carr decided to take what she calls a "watch and live" approach. Following her diagnosis, she turned to nutrition to boost her immune system and increase her longevity. Her journey has been chronicled in five books and one award-winning documentary, Crazy Sexy Cancer, which aired on TLC and OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.

In crazy sexy kitchen, Carr shares gorgeous recipes like Strawberry Fields Smoothie, Crazy Sexy Kale, Chickpea with Root Veggie Tagine, Vegan “Crab” Cakes and French Toast with Amaretto Crème (to name a few) … further proving that breakfasts, lunches and dinners absent of meat and dairy -- and unprocessed! -- can be wonderfully delicious, satisfying and downright sexy.

What I absolutely love about her book is the way it’s sectioned out -- like a four course dinner.

The first course talks about Carr’s diet and lifestyle philosophy, the second dives into food preparation, and the third explores kitchen “know-hows,” such as cooking and prepping lingo. For the fourth and final course, she serves up 150 plant-empowered recipes "to ignite a mouthwatering revolution!"

I intend to try them all, sharing many of them right here. I hope you try them as well. You don't need to go all the way with a whole-food, plant-based diet. As Carr says, “Any step towards a plant-passionate diet is a positive one" … for your body and the planet.

You can learn more about Carr by visiting her website and/or subscribing to her Facebook page.

Strawberry Fields Smoothie

Crazy Sexy Kale

Chickpea with Root Veggie Tagine

Vegan "Crab" Cakes

French Toast with Amaretto Crème

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Double Cardio

I love work-outs when you finish one cardio session and want to immediately work in a second. That’s where I was at today, an especially welcoming feeling considering it rode in on the heels of a bad Monday.

I was able to work out early yesterday morning (cardio and strength training), but came home completely nauseated. I got the kids off to school and then spent the rest of the day on the couch. I did whatever work I had to do from that location. (Mobility solutions make sick days virtually obsolete, which I happen to think is a good thing.)

Today I woke up feeling good ... well-rested.

I hit the Y for a 3-miler at just under a 10:00 pace. It’s not where I want to be but I’m heading in the right direction.

(At my fastest, I had been running an 8:21 pace. The goal is to get back to that for my short runs. Matt is working up a schedule to increase my pace each week. Our long runs together will be slow and easy [Long Slow Distance]. The combination of speed and endurance will help us get to that sub-2 hour half marathon in May. Our best half time to date is 2 hours, 1 minute.)

I had been feeling energized after my run and, having checked my watch, knew I had some time left before heading home to ready the kids for school. To that end, I took to the elliptical for a fat burning session.

A strong work-out sets the tone for my day. So far Tuesday is rocking!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Comfort Food

When people learn that Matt and I don’t eat meat or dairy, many ask, “What do you eat?” I think the misconception by some is that our dinner plates are filled with broccoli! While we certainly get our share of greens, the way in which I prepare our meals is far more interesting, flavorful and sexy!

Prior to adopting a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle, I never enjoyed cooking. I saw it as a chore. Since making the switch, I absolutely love it -- I actually find joy in it. In fact, I recently took a series of classes at the Natural Gourmet Institute in Manhattan to enhance my cooking skills.

Not wanting either of us to ever miss meat and dairy (i.e., the Western Diet) motivates me to stay creative in the kitchen. The end result is always delicious and healthful meals that make our diet today better than the one we left behind.

So how do we “veganize” traditional comfort food?

Comfort food is flavorful and easily eaten. It often carries with it nostalgic or sentimental appeal. It’s a treat! One comfort food that takes me back to my childhood days is grilled cheese. I remember well the many afternoons my mom called me in for lunch and I was greeted by the smell of that hot, melted cheese resting between two glorious white pieces of Wonder Bread! Ah, to be young again ...

Today I brought the “vegan” version to our house … as a treat. I write “treat” because “vegan” cheese is processed, so it isn't something I incorporate into our meals very often. How often is “not very often?” Aside from a pinch here and there, about once every 3 months (so it really is a treat!) I also made a “creamy,” rich tomato soup as an accompaniment. Together this dinner is absolutely amazing!

Here are the recipes for both (for dairy eaters, use regular cheddar).

Grilled Cheese for Grown-Ups

4 slices of Ezekiel Bread
2 teaspoons of vegan butter (We use Earth Balance)
Dijon mustard
Red onion jam (see below for recipe) or ¼ sweet Vidalia onion, sliced thin
1 plum tomato (thinly sliced)
Shredded vegan cheddar cheese (Follow Your Heart or Daiya are two solid brands)
Baby spinach or arugula

Lay out the 4 bread slices and spread 2 of them with ¼ teaspoon each of butter.

Spread the other two slices with Dijon mustard and add the onion jam or Vidalia onion. Place 3 slices of tomato on top of the onion. Place the sliced vegan cheddar on top of the tomatoes and spinach or arugula over the cheese. Place the buttered bread slices, butter side up, on top.

Preheat a large nonstick pan with a lid over medium heat. Add the remaining butter to the pan and swirl it around until melted. Place the sandwiches, butter side up, in the pan and cover.

Cook for about 4 minutes, flipping after 2 minutes, until golden brown on both sides.

Red Onion Jam

1 teaspoon canola oil
2 large red onions, very thinly sliced
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons agave nectar

Heat oil over high heat in large nonstick pan.  Add oil and wait for it to shimmer. Add onions, salt, pepper and rosemary. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently to caramelize the onions evenly. Stir in the balsamic and agave. Remove from heat. Set aside for jam to cool.

Tomato Soup

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
4 large vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 large yellow potato, peeled and quartered
6 cups of vegetable broth
10 fresh basil leaves

Heat a medium saucepan over high heat. Add olive oil and wait until it shimmers. Add chopped onion and cook, stirring with wooden spoon, until the onions are slightly browned (about 8 minutes).

Stir in the chopped tomatoes and crushed garlic, cooking for about 5 minutes. Add the potato and broth and simmer until the potato is soft (about 10 minutes).

Carefully place the soup in your Vitamix or blender, add the chopped basil and puree until the soup is smooth. Return to pot and season with salt and pepper, if needed.

*Recipes from Vegan Cooking for Carnivores by Roberto Martinez