Showing posts from December, 2011

Set SMART Goals


We've talked about writing goals before, but with the New Year upon us, let's talk about how to best go about setting these goals.
In order to make your dreams a reality, your goals should be...

S.M.A.R.T.  Goals are...
Specific. Figure out exactly what you want to accomplish and a path for getting there.  Think about who is involved, when you can work towards it, where you might go for support, and why you want to achieve this goal.  Avoid vague ideas like "get in shape," "eat better," "get more sleep," or "save more money."  Instead,  be specific.If you'd like to get in shape, commit to hitting the gym 3 times a week.  If you'd like to eat more healthfully, vow to eat at least 6 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, and have a journal to record it or check off each serving.  Measurable.Your goal should be measurable so you can track your progress, see how far…

Go for it: Virtual 10k

Stephanie, Robin, and Ashley organized aHome for the Holidays Virtual 10k.  I absolutely love the idea of people all over the country--or the world--doing the same run in the same weekend for the same reason.  I also love that this is purely for fun, and race times would not determine winners.

So I signed up!  Then, this morning, I did not want to get started.  Just because I ran one little 5k does not mean I can suddenly take on 10 out of nowhere!  I haven't trained for it.  3 miles is still just about my limit. Then again... I've never tried for more.  I'm still convinced that somewhere around 3 miles, I'll get ready to slow to a walk, breathing heavily and heart racing.  However, that will not prevent me from picking up to a jog again after I've regained some energy, right?  I don't need to make each lap under a 10-minute-mile.  I think that in this "Just for Fun" 10k, finishing is optional.  BUT I WILL FINISH!  I will never sell myself short again-…

EverStride Skincare: Product Review & Giveaway!

When I do aerobic exercise, sometimes my shirt really irritates my skin.  In a cardio class and while lifting weights, I feel the seams in my underarm.  When I run outside in a long-sleeve shirt, I usually don't feel anything while on the go, but the minute I slow down to a walk, I feel the irritation.   For the most part, I accepted this, figuring maybe I just need to invest in better-quality workout clothing.  Whether or not that's true (I invest in pants, less so in shirts), I finally have a solution to my problem.

EverStride's Anti-Chafing Sport Stick

As a new runner, I didn't know that these existed, but WOW does it make a difference!  Just one use of this Anti-Chafe Stick made a believer out of me.  When I glided it onto my skin, it felt nice and smooth, and oh-so-thin.  Then, as soon as I was out the door, I forgot I had it on!  It's not sticky or smelly or opaque in any way.  Left zero residue.  I did my workout, got nice and sweaty, boxed and kicked and ran…

Spread the joy!

Happy Holidays, everyone!

One of the perks of living in this wonderful blogosphere:
Blogger Secret Santa! 
Yes. It is exactly what it sounds like.  Organized by Peanut Butter Jenny, we bloggers were each assigned another, to whom we would send a little holiday gift.  FUN!

After shipping off a box to my own gift-ee, I'd almost forgotten about the whole project.... Until...


Inside was an adorable card 

and fun, colorfulworkout headbands !! Just like I wanted!

Thank you, (Secret) Santa!  My secret santa was actually Meg, so thank YOU, Meg!  I'm so excited to wear these in my fitness classes.  They'll be perfect for keeping my hair out of my face during Pilates and spin.  Running, too!

AND an added surprise: she threw in Christmas-colored M&Ms--dark chocolate (how'd she know?) !! What a nice treat.

Oops, I indulged before remembering to photograph.  Now you all know the chocolate fiend I truly am.

Gifts don't have to be big or fancy to make someone smile. …

Celebrate: Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Sometimes it's your boyfriend's birthday...

... and sometimes this means you have to bake.

Today is my boyfriend's birthday, and so although I have much grander confectionary plans in mind for the celebration with friends, I could never show up on his birthday empty-handed, could I?Enter: cupcakes.

(Don't worry, I got him a real gift. But I hope he likes these, too!)

He likes pumpkin, and he likes cream cheese, and he isn't a huge "cake" person, so I found a recipe for pumpkin cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting. Perfect! 

 They're not super sweet but are oh-so-tasty, so I think he'll enjoy the flavors.  

And I think you will, too. 

While those are baking, you have just enough time to make the cream-cheese frosting! 

That's optional.  They're also delicious as muffins (without the frosting), or could go with vanilla or chocolate frosting if cream cheese flavor isn't your thing.

Don't bite yet--too hot!  Let them cool for a bit. 

Looks lik…

Fill up on Fiber

Just for giggles Friday:  Did you hear about the hipster who burned his tongue on pizza? He ate it before it was cool.
Hey, remember when I accepted your dare to do a post on fiber?  Well, here it is!
I've received questions about fiber, and it's all over the health news nowadays, too. Fiber is in the spotlight!  Sure, you know by now that you're supposed to get enough fiber in your diet, but how much?  what kind? in what foods? why? SO MANY QUESTIONS! 

Read more for the what, why, and how:
What is fiber? 
Fiber, aka "roughage" or "bulk", is a carbohydrate that comes from the part of plant foods that the human body can't fully digest.  Instead of being broken down and absorbed, it goes straight through and out of the body, intact.  There are two different types of fiber: (1) Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel.  This gel then prevents other materials, like fats and sugars, from being absorbed.  As a result, it can lower blood cholesterol and …

First run with my new sportswatch

I mentioned last week that my Garmin Forerunner finally arrived!  

It arrived just after I showed myself that I can run 3.1 miles continuously, no walking.  Perfect timing, so I can test myself on the road instead of the treadmill.  The only delay?

It came with an overwhelming amount of gadgets!  I unwrapped, sorted, installed, set up... Now, finally, my Garmin ForeRunner is all charged and programmed and ready to go!  To continue working toward my goal of running 5k continuously, I got up early this morning to go for a test run.  Put on the chest-strap (heart-rate monitor), made sure it synched to the watch, and set out.

The sun was just barely rising, and the moon was still out!  And when I say it was cold, I mean it was COLD.  First time this season that I could see my breath while running!  I had my gloves and earwarmers, so it wasn’t so bad.  Here are some tips from Fitsugar for running in cold weather.

The Garmin?  AMAZING.  No need to keep track of my laps up and down the same stre…

Make a childhood favorite better: Healthier Mac & Cheese

One of my most fond childhood memories?  Kraft Mac & Cheese.  This was always a treat on those nights where my father was in charge of supper.  It was not only the food itself, but the experience; my sister and I got to help cook: toss in the butter, pour in the milk, shake and release the packet of cheese powder… you remember the drill.

It’s been a long time since the days of that family-sized blue box, but you can still have your mac & cheese, and your veggies, too!  Some inspiration for this dish came from my friend Rachel over at Little Chef Big Appetite, Rachael Ray, and Angela at Oh She Glows.

Pin It
Mmm tempted yet?  Ready to ditch whatever else you had planned for dinner and make this instead?  GREAT!  Let's get started.

ButternutsquashyVeggieMacandCheesy Serves many.
Read more for the recipe --

Say "I WILL reach my goal"... and then DO IT.

Remember when I dared myself to run 3 miles continuously?  Or, more specifically, to run 3.1 miles--the equivalent of a 5k--without stopping, no walking breaks?  When I ran my first 5k, I stopped a couple times in the second half to walk briskly for a few seconds before picking up speed again.  Next time I do the run, I'd love to be able to make it to the end without slowing to a walk.

Well, guess what?  I did it.  I accomplished my goal.

Of course, I had to try and fail first, which I did.  I didn't practice the run as often as I'd like, because things like bad weather and other exciting workouts got in the way.  In the week and a half since that original goal-setting post, I ran maybe 3 times outdoors, doing at least 3 miles each time, but slowing to a walk at least twice.  I ran two miles without stopping.  I learned that once I take my first walking interval, I lose my drive. So, time to just suck it up and do this thing.  I know I can. I will. I will do it!


Step into a Group Exercise Class

Ah, Wednesday. This is my favorite workout day of the week, because I get to do not one, but TWO awesome gym classes in a row.  First, in Spinning, I get my heart rate up and my body warm (read: drenched in sweat), and thennn I hop one room over for Pilates, where I challenge my core, practice balance, and stretch my flexibility.  These two make an AMAZING combo.  Ah... so good. I walk away feeling like a new person, every time.

In honor of my great-workout-Wednesday, Today I dare you to try something new: Step into a group exercise class.

A newbie to fitness?  A pro-exerciser but want to spice up your workout routine with something new?  Taking a group exercise class is like having a personal trainer, except it’s slightly less personal (bad), other people are doing the moves all around you (pressure--good!) and it’s included in your gym membership (great!).  I've alluded to my gym class routine before, so now it's your turn to join in the fun.

It can be intimidating walking …

Vegify an Old Classic: Spaghetti Squash & Veggie Balls

It's Meatless Monday, so whether you're a full-time veg-head like me, opt for meatless Mondays, or even if you haven't hopped on the wagon at all, let's take this opportunity to let vegetables take the spotlight in this classic dish.

Spaghetti and meatballs--a weekly dish in my house growing up, and a staple on any Italian menu.  Can we re-do it?  Make it meat-free?  Decrease the calories?  Fake out any non-believers?

Spaghetti Squash and Veggie Balls
Ingredients: One spaghetti squash + one package meatless veggie balls.
(that was easy)

Let me introduce you to my new friend: Spaghetti Squash.

Sure, he may not look like much on the outside, but weren't you ever taught not to judge a book by its cover??

Read more to see what's inside our big yellow buddy.

Make TJ's Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake Mix.

Ohmygosh. You must make this. 

Tonight, after a very, VERY filling take-out dinner, we offered the already-baked dessert almost as an afterthought to the groans of "That was delicious," "I'm so full," "such large portions..." etc., etc...

"Would you like some coffee cake for dessert?"
"Oh, I don't know, I'm so full.  Okay, I guess I'll have just a little piece with my tea, please."

... Tiny portions are doled out ...

"This is good... mmm..."
"Another, please."
"Me, too."

As for me? I was practically eating it out of the pan. I've had crumbcake... I grew up with it.  But this is on a whole other level.  Usually with coffee cakes, the crumbs are the best part and the cake itself is just "good."  In this, even though it really did have a favorable crumb-to-cake ratio, the cake part was actually quite tasty, too!  And, unlike store-bought crumb cakes which are usually pre-made and…

Observe and Learn from your Behavior

This morning, I went on a great run. The weather was PERFECT: started out chilly, but within a half mile, the sun and my heart warmed up my body.  So nice.

I ran a mile and a half .. maybe 3/4 before I had to stop to tighten my laces that were about to come undone.  Ugh. I really didn't want to stop; I want to run 3 miles without breaks, but I saw I had no choice. I knelt down to re-tie quickly and get back up.  Back to the run.  About a quarter mile later, I allowed myself to take a short recovery walk, for somewhere between 30 and 60 seconds.  Would I have done this if I hadn't already broken my running streak?  Probably not.  But knowing that my goal would not be met today gave me a sense of permission to slow down for a moment.  Then I picked up and kept moving, kept running.  When I caught up to my walking-buddy, also doing laps, I slowed to walk with her for another 30- or 60-second break (I swear I have no sense of time when I'm working out).  At last, I picked up a…

Keep moving

This morning started a little slowly.  Oops.  Consciously decided to miss spin class. Whoops.

Oh well!  Work out from home.  After spending an hour or so on actual work (I chose research over Spinning? Really??), I popped on a workout video downloaded from ExerciseTV for a quick, light strength circuit with my 5-lb hand-weights before hitting the road to jog outside.  You know what?  Better that I go out and run instead of spin today -- it's been 5 days since I set my official, public goal to run 3 miles without stopping and yet I haven't run once this week!  Shameful!  I'm too committed to my gym class schedule; time to put my running goals first.  It's beautiful out for a run, anyhow.

So, out I go. Today I set my mind to running 2 miles without stopping.  I went out into the brisk December (it's December?!!?) air and started out in my normal running-speed.  After a half mile or mile, I kept reminding myself to take it easy, a 5- or 5.5-mph jog would be fine; my goa…