Category Archives: health

Healthy Habits of the Traveler in {MCM} Training

Fact: it’s a challenge to keep up with your daily habits while you’re traveling, no matter what category they fall into. The layers of difficulty can quickly pile up depending on where you’re going, for how long, why, how you’re getting there, and you know, any other life things you may have going on at the time!

I never turn down an opportunity to travel, simply because it means branching out of the norm and getting some sort of experience. But as of late the travel has been frequent, so I’ve had to get creative in maintaining some sense of normalcy for my system-in-marathon-training.

Last week I got to head up north to Seattle for four days to conduct a few coaching trainings. I love that city. Love it. But in those four days my schedule also included three runs – one of which would be over 3 hours. I wanted to eat healthy for those runs, to avoid being the girl in Seattle seen frantically searching for public bathrooms in her running attire. And I wanted to keep stress levels low so that my heart wouldn’t decide it had its own plans for those miles.

Here’s how that stay-on-track strategy looks, in my world….

1) Bring what you love (and what you need*)!

I packed peanut butter, fruit, homemade trail mix (pepitas, almonds, cashews, dried blueberries and raisins), Larabars and a refillable water bottle. I also packed my Long-Run *essentials: handheld water bottle, hat and fuel.

2014-09-10 07.46.18-1

I’ve learned to pack nut-butter in tupper-ware, as the TSA deems the ‘jar’ a liquid in some cases. And that’s been confiscated. And that was a bad day.

2) Shop for the rest!

Once I got myself to the hotel, I immediately looked up a grocery store. As you might assume, the Seattle area is saturated with healthy options! So, this one was easy. I headed straight to Trader Joe’s after lunch (see: leftover Thai food, ‘Thank you!”) and stocked up on the good stuff:

2014-09-10 14.51.10

Obviously that tiny tupper-ware of peanut-butter wouldn’t suffice for the whole weekend. The other things: bananas, salad for lunch the next day, organic peaches and apples, plums, (not pictured) sparkling water and sea-salt + almond dark chocolate.

This was one of three grocery-store stops in 4 days.  Just trying to do my part for the health food store economy!

3) Use the web to plan ahead! 
  
  It’s full of (mostly good) information. Exhibit A: MapMyRun.com

MMRbellevue run_MMR

Friday morning had “3:10 // 20 miles” on the schedule (i.e. run for that amount of time, as prescribed, and don’t exceed 20 miles). I did a quick search of the hotel’s zip code with a mileage filter and found a ton of options. This search also led me to quite a few park trails in the area, which would be ideal for many miles during the Friday morning commuting hours.

Another vital MapMyRun tool while running in Seattle? The elevation chart. It took me a while, but I finally mapped a route that only included approximately 1,000 ft of climbing over those three hours. That’s skill.

4) Stick to your workout ‘plan’ (make one, first).

Exploring new cities with a run is always fun, but I rarely feel motivated to do so before tying up the laces and convincing myself to GO. As soon as the legs get moving, I’m happy. In three runs I discovered crazy-hilly neighborhoods, a cute little park near my hotel and a lovely downtown area to return to for some afternoon sun-soaking and planking.

Having a plans works wonders; I don’t do as well with the “we’ll just see what happens!”. On this trip I wanted to check a few training boxes and, of course,  stick to the plank challenge!

2014-09-10 18.06.02 
When on vacation, attempt a new plank-hold record. At least when your arms and legs start shaking, no one’s watching your craziness…or judging your continuous plank-selfies…

2014-09-12 09.31.50 2014-09-11 15.54.32-1

5) Head back to the grocery store!
I.e. Take advantage of the Whole Foods (
or similar available option
) hot + cold bars.

In four days I managed to only eat “out” twice. I was lucky to have stayed in the Hyatt House Hotel, where each room is stocked with a few kitchen supplies and a full-sized fridge. But even a mini one would have sufficed here – there’s luxury in having a real plate to eat off of, along with real utensils. Bliss!

Thursday afternoon I went to Whole Foods and picked up the following from the buffet bars:

Dinner (Pre-LR): honey-ginger salmon, steamed kale, roasted vegetables (squash, onions and peppers), roasted cumin sweet potatoes.

2014-09-11 18.52.03

Breakfast (Post-LR): two hard-boiled eggs and tomatoes (from the salad bar), plain roasted sweet potatoes, 1 avocado (from produce section). (I already had my pre-run banana + Peanut-butter ready to go – see picture above.)

2014-09-12 10.38.45-2

Before heading to the airport on Saturday, I made my third trip to WF in as many days. I wanted to make sure lunch was full of fresh deliciousness, since dinner in an airport is rarely promising…

2014-09-13 12.27.34

From the WF salad bar: mixed greens, grated carrots, marinated mushrooms, tomatoes, hard-boiled egg, diced celery, Italian dressing and a side of roasted sweet potatoes. To drink: lemon-flavored sparkling water.

——

All-in-all, pretty successful trip. I eased right back into training – thankfully with the new pair of kicks that finally arrived on my doorstep. The only thing that’s different is I’ll be right back to running along the bay this week, jonesin’ for that PNW sunshine and already-cooked, ready-to-eat meals.

For those who travel often – work, or wanderlusting – what are some of your must-dos to keep things feeling somewhat normal?

1 Comment

Filed under challenges, food, health, marathon, Nutrition, training, travel

Eat The Green Spoon: Whole Food, GF, Home-Delivered Meals (DC, VA)

If someone offered to deliver a locally and sustainably sourced, gluten-free, chef-cooked meal to your door, would you turn that down?

Yah, I didn’t either.

eatgreenspoon_Meals

Hanson, owner and founder of The Green Spoon, personally reached out to see if I had any interest in taste-testing their meals. His pitch needs little to no pizzazz. The company’s values speak for themselves, and they speak loudly to the target demographics!

Do I want a gourmet meal prepared by a trained chef, that happens to also be gluten-free, sourced locally and sustainably, nutritionally balanced and, of course, full of flavor, delivered to my doorstep? Well, sir, I can’t think of a person who would say “No” to that question. So, yes, absolutely!

I was anticipating one meal. If the Chef was feeling generous or the kitchen had leftovers or some other luck-of-the-universe situation happened, maybe a meal for him, too.

I provided the address and he gave me a time of delivery; perfecto, I’ll be there! What I wasn’t expecting when I opened the door was a bag FULL of meals (see above). We didn’t need to cook for the rest of the week!

——————————————-

thegreenspoon_infographic

Our sample meals included:

Mahi Mahi Napa Salad | Salmon with Mango Salad & Brown Rice | Grilled Rib-Eye with Tomato Relish & Balsamic Steak Sauce over Mashed Sweet Potatoes | Almond-Crusted Fish Sticks, Broccoli & Carrots (steamed) with Cauliflower Mash | Seared Halibut with Citrus “Soy” Sauce, Brown Rice with Bok Choy, Sweet Peppers & Cauliflower Mash | Chicken with Zucchini (GF) Waffles with Mixed Berry Agave Compote & Vegetable Medley

The Details:

Sources are listed for all foods.
Meals are organic.
Meals are gluten-free.
Produce is determined by seasonal availability.

——————————————-

eatgreenspoon_fish

eatgreenspoon_fishsticks

A few of these were dinner, while a few were a very handy, healthy packable lunch. They’re easy to reheat and taste like they were freshly cooked, no matter how you warm them up (instructions included). Flavors between the protein, vegetables and starches were all very complimentary and we enjoyed the meal’s variety of textures and colors. Each sample received two-thumbs up from the respective taste-testers (my pescetarian tastebuds & the meat-eating fiancée).

——————————————-

If you’re in the DC area, check these guys out! Order something. Branch out of your dinner-eating comfort zones!

They specify delivery zones and, as I’ve mentioned, bring it right to your door. While I’m not one to order weekly meals, I think this could be a creative solution to small dinner parties, or a date-night “in”, or perhaps fooling the family while they’re in town?

You decide how you’d like to enjoy your Green Spoon plate, but just know that you’ll be happy to support this crew.

——————————————-

eatgreenspoondc.com

———————–

Full disclosure: All meals were provided free of charge.

1 Comment

Filed under DC, dinners, food, health, lunches, Nutrition

That One Time I Food-Logged

This is a story of the teacher becoming the student,  the coach becoming the athlete, the dietitian standing underneath the  magnifying glass and being all like, “Whoa. Do I REALLY eat that much peanut butter?!?”

Answer: Yes. Yes, I do. Own it; keep buying that extra jar at TJ’s so it never truly runs out. Crisis management is my forte here.

—–

As part of {marathon} training, the Coach requested a food log**. I suppose in some sense it was voluntary, and it was totally up to us (as the “athlete”) to do something or absolutely nothing with it. I could record, submit blindly (i.e. I don’t have a hard copy), and forget about it entirely. Or, I could say, “Hmm, whatcha think about all of that?. I haven’t done the latter yet, but I’m certainly not opposed to it. I hope that I am never so arrogant as to assume my diet is perfect, there is no room for improvement, and I hit every micro- and macro-nutrient need-nail on the head.

Confession: Rather, I know that the latter is absolutely not true. I’d applaud anyone who can honestly say that they accomplish this on a daily basis. And then I’d say “Dude, relax. Life’s too short, ya know.”

salsa

Replace “hate myself” with “stomach disagrees, entirely.”

—–

What did I learn?

Maybe it’s a good idea to pack a serving of pb for my oatmeal at work, and leave the jar at home! I’d certainly save a few dollars by not having to restock so often.

I don’t eat as much fruit in the winter. I probably already knew this, but as with anything, it becomes really clear when you write it down. I enjoy winter citrus fruits (mainly grapefruit), but try to veer from things I know aren’t in season yet (i.e. “on sale” strawberries that probably taste like nothing), so the options are limited! No doubt I make up for this in the spring and summer, so, we’ll just leave it at that for now.

I could revamp my work-snacks. I love me some Trader Joe’s one-serving trail mix bags, but that’s been a habit for a long time and there’s always room for more variety.

My system gets a LOT of veggies, and kale chips. Pats-on-the-back. It’s okay to brag, sometimes.

—-

I rarely ask clients to log their food; it’s a useful tool, yes, but it comes with a LOT of footnotes.

The con: No matter how many times you say it’s not for any judgment, and should reflect normal eating patterns, and should NOT change any decisions (that’s for us to work on later), it will never be a true representation of one’s diet. It’s just nearly impossible to log your intake without that nagging voice saying “…really? You want to write another handful of tortilla chips?” and/or your conscience responding, “You’re so right, annoying-voice! I’ll put them back in the bag.” It screws with you, and I understand every reason why (even more so, now).

The PRO: if you’re looking for some ways you can tone up this meal or that snack, making it stronger for fueling you and your health goals, this is one of the best ways to do it.

—-

If you’re ever tasked* with keeping a food log, keep that PRO in mind. If you’re concerned with some of your current behaviors or habits, and choose to do this on your own accord, add a few extra footnotes – hunger levels, stress, sleep, energy, mood, etc. Remember that eating is only one ingredient in the recipe for overall health.

*And remember that the health professional asking you to log (if applicable) isn’t perfect and (likely) doesn’t expect you to be either.

**I have only ever “logged” my food before as an assignment for classes in college. It was only ever for my eyes and my assessing; submitting it to someone else was a first for me.

2 Comments

Filed under advice, health, learning, Nutrition

Eating in Moderation: Timely holiday thoughts from Seth Godin & Malcolm Gladwell

One brownie makes you happy, a second brownie, maybe a little more. The third brownie doesn’t make us happy at all, and the fourth brownie makes us sick.”

Seth Godin, “The Moderation Glitch

Malcolm Gladwell describes this in his new book, David & Goliath, as the “inverted U”. “For a while, more input gets you more results, but then, inevitably, things level off, and then, perversely, get worse.” – SG

——

The holiday seasons now sound like a broken-record in my head; every year I’m writing and reading list after list of “how to” survive, prevent weight gain, stick with the workout routine, etc. Healthy holiday eating tips can easily be found EVERYWHERE – magazines, blogs, podcasts, radio and TV shows, social media, etc. They’re rarely novel, yet consumers bookmark, dog-ear and save them for calling upon when motivation is low and dessert consumption is far past the point of content.

healthyholidays-890x612

Image source.

“Moderation is a marketing problem.”  -SG

What I’ve learned:
No one wants to hear “everything in moderation”.

They may want you to authorize the “eat whatever you want just exercise a LOT!” plan, or a strict list of what NOT to eat, or maybe an exact meal plan, calorie count, shopping list, and perhaps while we’re at it, a personal at-home chef to make sure that healthy cooking gets done. I certainly don’t blame anyone for wanting any or all of the above – remove the guesswork of nutrition, the time spent deciphering all of the research and tips, and voila! We dine happy. Right?

Well, no, it’s never that easy.

But it IS simple: Eat in moderation*.
Enjoy food while you’re eating it. Move on, and go move.**

*Turn off the mental debates of this nutrient over that one; stop calculating how many calories in each bite, and put away the scale. Use a plate isn’t the size of a medium pizza, fill it with a variety of foods (and colors), and dine slowly so that your stomach can do its job and let you know when its full.

**Use your muscles to do something that motivates you, challenges you, or just gets you out the door for some fresh air! It doesn’t matter what that activity is; it’s important that you enjoy doing it, and you both want and make it part of your routine.

awesome …there is this exception. #truth

——

“If the data shows us that in so many things, moderation is a better approach than endless linearity, why does our culture keep pushing us to ignore this?

…This is the wine drinker who goes from the health benefits of a daily glass of wine to the health detriments of a daily bottle or two. This is the runner who goes from the benefits of five miles a day to knees that no longer work because he overdid it.

Habits are the other half of the glitch. We learn a habit when it pays off for us, but we’re hardwired to keep doing the habit, even after it doesn’t.”  – SG

——

What You Do Every Day

I use this quote over and over for a reason – if you take this into account EVERY DAY, it will matter.  (And clearly because I love it. So well put, Gretchen!) The way we eat, drink and/or workout (or don’t) for one holiday matters much less than how we do all of the above every day before and after the celebrations. The approach we take towards our health on a daily basis matters more than the approach we take towards the holiday dinner buffet.

Habits, and goals, matter. They drive decisions, mental chatter, and eventually, outcomes.  Think about yours, and keep them in mind.

Make yourself proud

Because honestly, that’s what will matter at the end of the day: how you feel.

—-

HAPPY Holiday season!

I hope you’re enjoying the time with family, friends, seasonal tunes and your  traditional favorites!

7 Comments

Filed under doin things My way, food, health, motivation, Nutrition

Pepita Coconut Trail Mix

We’re in full-on screening season here at WCS! It’s a whirlwind of biometric data, health education and health fairs. These are the busiest months of our year by far, and we’re soaking in up.

Wednesday morning took me onsite to one of the local Discovery offices to promote healthy snacking (among many other things), and called for a little bit of creativity. Sure, people know fruits & veggies are healthy. We could chop a few things up and the samples would be gone quickly. But let’s branch out. Let’s make-your-own something!

Trail mix is easily portable, and almost a treat in disguise. A random Trader Joe’s-inspired mix pleased all palates, and shocked a few new-comers. Yep, healthy (fats, lean protein and fruit) tastes great:

HC Trail Mix_1HC trail mix cups

Pepita Coconut Trail Mix

Dried Blueberies
Almonds (unsalted)
Walnuts (unsalted)
Pepitas, roasted & salted
Dried Banana Chips
Roasted Coconut Chips

Proportions are up to you – just dump & mix!

The biggest surprise here, with most taste-testers, was the blueberries. Since most people expect dried cranberries or raisins, they commented on the tartness of the blueberries in contrast with the salty pepitas, nutty crunch and sweet bananas. Blueberries are also higher in antioxidants (even when dried)!

The coconut chips add a lighter crunch and mild flavor, along with their plant-based saturated fat.

Almonds and walnuts are great sources of Omega-3 (unsaturated) fats and manganese (an antioxidant , helpful for bone health, inflammation and blood sugar control) – among many other things.

Pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds) are a good source of protein! I add this powerhouse (usually unsalted) to salads and soups all the time, but their unique soft crunch and flavor are also trail-mix friendly.

I added in the banana chips for sweetness, fiber, potassium (much less than the fresh version, though) and bulk. (Yes, these guys are high in sugar, so shake them in lightly.)

—-

If you’re a dark-chocolate lover like myself, you could certainly add in a few shavings/pieces of uber-dark chocolate for a bitter balance and another dose of antioxidants and yum.

—-

What’s your favorite nut-fruit-seed combination?

Any other DIY-mixers out there?

1 Comment

Filed under food, health, Nutrition, on the job, recipes