Sunday, October 3, 2010

I'm Seriously Serious

Today I am proclaiming as the day that I became a serious runner. I am training for a 10K that will precede a 10 miler. I had a 4.5 mile run on my running schedule today and the sky opened up with glorious (sarcasm) rain. I did not want to go. Not one bit.

I complained and bothered my husband with it. I threw my running gear around in a huff. I then put said gear on and went out into the dismal, nasty weather to complete my 4.5 miles. It bothered me that my feet were getting wet. It bothered me that the wind was blowing too hard. But I was going to run that 4.5, if it was the last thing I did today.

I ran by a guy getting out of his car and I just knew he was thinking that I was such a serious runner for being out in such crappy weather. Well, that's right buddy....I AM a serious runner. I kept thinking about how great it was that even though it wasn't perfect running weather (about 60-70 degrees and sunny), and that I don't like rain or getting stuck out in it that I was still out there trudging through puddles while the rain pelted my dedicated to my training.

This positive thinking must have gotten me going, because I began actually enjoying this run. Every song that came on through my iPod was perfect for the day and the run it had in it. The wind died down, or so it felt. By this time, the puddles I was splashing through didn't bother me (because my feet were already soaked, so it probably didn't matter). I got into the zone and I felt fantastic.

So now I am excited to say that the running bug has seriously bitten me. This makes me a serious runner. I will run rain or shine and be happy about it. I will do my best not to make comments such as "well as a serious runner I...," or "before I was a serious runner..." or "I'm sorry, do you know are dealing with a serious runner here!?!" Those are probably best kept to myself. I will, however, enjoy my runs. I'll do my best to put on my running shoes and go out and enjoy the high I get from pounding the pavement.

I may not be considered a serious runner to other serious runners. I don't think I will ever run a marathon and I'm not sure if I'll ever again do a half marathon. But I will continue running and racing. At first I began running for the health benefits, the aesthetics of it all, and to have something to do. Those things are all still factors. But now that I've entered serious runner-dom, the most important reason I run is because I feel good about it. I accomplish something. I put on my shoes and I accomplish miles. There will always be more miles for me to accomplish, so I will continue striving to do so. If this causes me to run a marathon, then so be it. I look forward to seriously running and seriously loving it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Meat and more meat.

After my summer off of blogging and all things academic, I feel like a recently viewed documentary has sparked my need to roll with where my brain is taking me. So here goes...

I recently convinced my husband to watch a documentary entitled Food Inc. with me. It wasn't so hard because as I've stated in earlier posts, he really enjoys a boring television program or movie. But I digress. In this particular documentary, they explore the food industry in its complexity and what this means to us as consumers.

Parts of this were shocking and parts were understandable. Because I think everyone should watch this and be knowledgeable of what is going on around them, I will spare most of the details and let people make their own decisions. The part that most interested me and got me thinking was the part in which they highlighted the meat industry. It showed very candidly the conditions in which meat that is produced by the three largest meat companies in the US is processed from farm to your plate and mine. It was slightly disturbing to say the least.

Now before you stop reading because you think I'm anti meat and I'm going to go all animal rights on you, go ahead and hear me out. I love meat. I think it was put on this earth to be consumed. With this said, I also feel that there is a certain humanity that should be extended our fowl or livestock to ensure that they make the best possible chicken breast, steak, or pork chop.

This is where my brain started going. I do not believe that animals' brains have the complexities of the human brain. Nor do I believe that they can understand the full range of emotions we as humans experience. However, I do believe they feel fear and I also believe that they can experience stress. When I am stressed, how does my body react? Stressful times are the times I get sick. When an animal is treated inhumanely in order to mass produce its meat, I'm sure that fear and stress take a toll on that animal’s health, thus affecting the health of the humans that consume it.

I then was equally intrigued by a farmer who was interviewed who raised grass fed cows, free range chickens, and I believe he also farmed pigs. This farmer seemed to love and even respect his animals. They were free to roam their area of a large farm. They were fed diets that were necessary for optimum health. This farmer did slaughter his animals, but he did it in a way in which they did not suffer. I feel like an animal that lives its life in the best possible environment is going to be the healthiest meat to put in my own body. So in layman’s terms: Happy animals produce healthier meat.

I am going to make every effort to buy grass fed beef, free range chickens and their eggs, and pork that is raised free to roam. I realize this may be a little more expensive than the average package of chicken at my grocery store. I truly feel like the more people that choose to make this change, the more likely it is to become more affordable.

I have learned a lot lately about what is best to put in my body. I love reading about it and I love talking with others about it. I would advise anyone to take the time to watch this movie. It'll change the way you look at your dinner.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lemons to Lemonade

This day last year, I had a pretty scary day. I lost my job three days shy of my wedding. I didn't just lose it in a normal way, I lost it in a really dramatic way. Those who need to know the details do, but just know that it's a hell of a story.

I was so angry about it for a number of months. I was scared and bitter and unsure about what the future was going to hold. Then, miraculously, things started falling into place.

I found a job that seemed like it was tailor made for me. I had to move from the city I'd grown to know as home, but it was too great an opportunity to turn down. The move set in motion Justin finding the perfect job for him. From there we moved into an apartment and began the crazy journey into home-ownership. We now own our home, love our jobs, and live in a place where we have no shortage of family and friends within a short drive (or in some cases a walk) away.

My life has gone from up in the air to settled and comfortable. I feel like in Wilmington, our lives always were surrounded by a question mark. Now I see a clear path. If I do what I do for the rest of my career, I will be happy with that. I couldn't have said this about my previous job. Justin loves his job and works for a company and man that he respects, which is much more than he can say about the last guy. Though we're busier, we're more content.

So this is proof positive that sometimes when life hands you lemons, the lemonade is the end product whether you expect it or not. There is always a plan and purpose even if you can't see it at first. I have learned a valuable lesson through this and intend to keep this in mind while I sit back and sip on the lemonade my life has made for me!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The War of the Remote.

My husband and I have a problem. He likes boring television and I like good television. Where I watch something entertaining with a good storyline, he chooses to watch the History Channel or even worse...THE GOLF CHANNEL!! Don't get me wrong, there are sometimes very interesting History Channel programs. However, when he chooses to watch them every time they air, which is about 5 times a week each, it gets really boring.

I feel like this is a disagreement we will have for the rest of our lives. It is very rare we agree on a television show or movie to watch. This makes the remote pretty valuable. Usually in our house, if you're the first to sit down you gain control for the night. The problem is, if you get up and use the bathroom or get a drink or snack, you lose the right to the remote, thus get stuck watching boring television.

Some would say that we should just watch separate televisions, which is a possibility, but there are some problems with this solution. First, the other TV in the house is small and is not as fun as our big one. Second, I like watching television with him. It's comforting to sit together. During those rare times in which we agree on a television program or movie, it's perfect. But most of the time, it's the remote wars.

I guess there could be worse problems to have in a marriage. I am very blessed to have such a great husband and a great marriage. Even better when I have control of that darn remote.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Summer time and the livin's easy.

I love summer. Contrary to the belief that I would miss the seasons, I could very well live somewhere in which the temperature stays above 70 year round. I would be completely happy with this. Living in such a place you would never have to put a jacket on, or putting your shoes on would consist of slipping on a pair of flops. I would be happiest in a place like this.

I love summer food. I love that there is an abundance of farm markets with fresh produce. Seafood is more often than not the protein of choice at dinner. Justin and I spend a few nights a week grilling our supper during this time of year. He grills while I prepare the sides. It's really the only time he cooks. This year, I am going to buy some in season fruit and grill it. The thought of the sugars releasing with the heat and serving it up with some ice cream and honey sounds sublime! (I may even try the coconut milk ice cream I've been hearing so much about!)

I love how I can take my workouts outdoors. My leg has healed and I have begun my running again. I am no longer a slave to the treadmill. I can put on a pair of shorts, tank top, and shoes (my new non-injury causing ones!) and head out for a run. Justin and I take more walks together in the summer too. Bug bites aside, it makes me happy to be outside in the summer.

There is just something stress relieving during this time of year. I don't know if it's the weekend beach trips, the food, being outside constantly, or the clothes. I feel more free during the summer months. I feel like I see more friends and family. I may be mistaken, but it feels like I make more plans to see the people I love. During this time of year, I am very much in my element. The livin's definitely easier for this gal during the summer months!!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A little Thank You goes a long way.

I work for an organization that helps people. My role in this organization is to assist families experiencing homelessness in finding a home. This can be difficult work but it is always rewarding work.

Today was especially rewarding. It began as a normal day in which I was out and about at the various properties in which my clients reside while in our program. I arrived at our emergency shelter this afternoon after my lunch, tired and hoping that the afternoon would go by quickly. This all changed when I checked the mailbox. There was a blue envelope labeled with my name.

I opened this envelope to find a thank you card from a client who I recently assisted in findng a home. It had a personalized note stating how much I'd helped her. She went on to say how grateful she is that I was there to assist in finding she and her children a home. This brought instant tears to my eyes. Not that I need constant recognition for my work, but to know that someone took the time to be thankful reminded me of why I do what I do.

Someone's life has improved a little, because of something I did. That is enough for me. Hearing this from the person whose life was impacted just makes my heart feel extra full. I am grateful for that fullness today.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Label reading and Ranting.

We have a problem in America. Yes, I am going to go off on the American diet again.

I just went grocery shopping at good old Wally World. I spent a lot of time in the produce section picking up fresh fruits and veggies, so far so good. I continued my shopping and because I'm an avid label reader I take time making sure that what I'm putting in my cart and in turn putting into my body is good wholesome food. As I venture out of the produce section I am usually disappointed time and again.

I'm sure some of you read my tirade about High Fructose Corn Syrup in my beloved Wheat Thins (I have not bought them since!). It's really brought on an awareness of how many of the foods out there that are marketed as healthy, are not. The phrase "whole grain" doesn't mean anything if it doesn't say 100% whole grain. Without that 100% the whole grain claim only means that there is whole grain listed somewhere in the ingredient list. To the unconditioned healthy eater, this can be very deceiving. I thought it would be fun tonight to get a frozen treat for Justin and I. I picked up a container of Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches and about the fourth ingredient on the label was HFCS and then a bunch of other ingredients I couldn't pronounce. Not the better for me choice that I thought it was. Why is it that food companies aren't held responsible for pulling the wool over the eyes of Americans?

I shouldn't have to work so hard to make sure what I'm putting in my body is healthy. I shouldn't have to spend 15 minutes in an ice cream aisle to find something that's made with milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla. Heck, I don't care if they throw chocolate in least I can pronounce it and I know where it comes from! I guarantee that most Americans don't take the time that I do at the grocery store to do this. I'm not saying this because I am better than anyone else. On the contrary, I'm saying this because I used to be that American. I used to go to the grocery store and make what I thought were pretty darn good choices. Now that I'm better read on the subject and pay more attention, I realize I was pretty far off when it came to healthy eats.

Again, I'm not sure what I can do about it. I'm not sure how any one of us can make a difference in holding food companies responsible for falsely advertising their "healthy" product. It's not clever, it's dishonest. It's this dishonesty that is making some guy or gal at the top of the company rich, while the average American gets bigger and more unhealthy. I am grateful for those out there who make it their life's mission to education others about healthy eating. If I could get involved in a group like that, I would.

I know I've ranted about this subject before. I'll probably rant about it again. It bothers me that health and wellness is not more important to more people. I'm not talking about weight loss. I'm talking about true wellness. I'm talking about putting the things in your body that it needs. I know I put a lot of blame on the food companies that market these products in the fashion that they do. But there is some responsibility that lies in the hands of each person who doesn't take the time to educate themselves or read a label and know what they are putting in their body. I've learned not to trust every claim on every bold printed food label. I think I'm healthier for this. I will only put what's good into my body. I will only serve my husband and my eventual children what is good.

I will only get one body in my lifetime. I plan on treating it right.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Free Coffee Fridays

I love Fridays.

One, Friday at work always feels like not really a work day. I think there's something about knowing you don't have to be at work the next day that makes the atmosphere that much lighter. Two, Friday is the day before two full days off work. Leaving work on Friday afternoon gives the feeling of going on a mini vacation. Even if your plans for the weekend consist of housework, it's still a glorius feeling to walk out of those doors on a Friday.

Being a ForKids, Inc. employee makes Fridays even sweeter these days. We get free coffee on Fridays at Borjo coffeehouse. It's not a large coffee or anything fancy. It's just coffee, and it's free. All I have to do is show my nametag and I don't have to pay a dime. What a grand concept. This makes the coffee taste better. I can't explain it, but it tastes like a small piece of heaven in a cup.

My job can be hard. Somedays I feel like I am running in circles. It's amazing how working with someone else's life can really take it's toll on you. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my job. I enjoy helping others and when I make progress or have success with a client, that's all I need to keep going. Success with a client and now Free Coffee Friday.

I love Fridays!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


As a runner I should have known better. I should have recognized the signs my body was giving me. Instead I decided that new shoes weren't that important. Boy was I wrong. My carelessness caused what I think were stress fractures on my left shin, and tendonitis in my right foot. I wore my old running shoes throughout training and for my entire race. I am now sidelined from my regular runs until I heal.

My hiatus from running has given me runners envy. Because the weather is nice, I have been going for walks through my new neighborhood. This has been enjoyable, until some show off runner blows by me. Then I wish I could just pick up the pace and put a little hop in my step. Then I remember the shooting pain in my shin during the race and in my foot afterward. Then I get mad at myself for ignoring my previous need for new running shoes. As you can see, this can be a vicious cycle. All of this because I underestimated the value of good shoes.

I have been keeping my cardio fitness up by using the stationary bike and the many elliptical machines that the gym has to offer. I know that when my body is ready I will be able to run again and begin training for another race. You can bet your shoelaces when the time comes I will be doing this training in new running shoes.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Naked Truth

Every couple of days, I go to the gym in the morning before work and utilize the locker room shower and hair dryers to get ready for work. Recently, I've noticed the amount of people in the locker room that walk around naked. I'm not talking a quick moment of nakedness while taking off your gym clothes and wrapping a towel around you. I'm talking about full nudity for extended periods of time.

It may be just me, but I'm slightly uncomfortable with one lady in particular who feels the need to walk around fully nude and chat LOUDLY to anyone and everyone she sees. One day a few weeks ago, this particular woman struck up a conversation with me as I was washing my hands about the ankle brace I was wearing. I didn't know where to look during this brief and uncomfortable conversation. What got me even more was that she was without shower shoes. And just today, I walked into the locker room after a pretty tough workout, and first in my line of vision was her naked butt while she was leisurly blow drying her hair. I found that to be a little extreme.

I know that this is more acceptable to some than it is with me and I'm also all for loving your body, but I feel like there is a line to be drawn with appropriate nudity in this situation. I've come up with some rules as far as this that I think all people should follow when exercising locker room etiquette.

1. Nudity in the locker room is okay, as long as it is for a brief moment as you are changing your clothing.

2. Never under any circumstance should you strike up a conversation with a total stranger with your boobs, butt, and genitals in clear view.

3. Flip flops or shower shoes should be worn when showering in locker rooms and one should not be barefoot at any time in a public locker room. It's gross to not follow this rule.

4. Blow-drying your hair while completely nude is unneccesary. They make towels/robes for that purpose.

5. I support the love of ones body, but I do not need to see it in its entirety. Period.

I may get a number of people disagreeing with me on the point I am making, but I don't care. There is a time and place to prance around naked, the gym locker room is not one of those places.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Stressing over health=Not so healthy.

My week has been busy and has felt overly long. First off, due to our recent move, my commute has increased from about 3 minutes to 30. Secondly, since my clients mostly have day jobs (which is wonderful for them and their children, and I would never complain about it!), the only time to meet with them is the evenings so I've been working late. I can't seem to get into work late enough in the morning to make the late night not seem so long and tiring.

My main issue and point of stress this week though, has been none of the aforementioned things. I feel like with this shift, I have to make time to work out. If I go to the gym in the evening, I don't get home until REALLY late and I don't want that. If I get up and get to the gym in the morning, I have to pack a bag to shower there since it is closer to work than it is to home. Since my leg and foot have not healed completely and I haven't been able to run, a walk through the neighborhood seems more leisurely to me than a cardio workout.

The stress I have felt over this has gotten me thinking...Is it really healthy to stress over exercise? Part of me says it's okay to do so because it means exercise is a priority in my life. However, I feel like exercise should not be a stressor, but a stress reliever. What is it that is causing me to feel like I have to push myself daily in order to obtain an effective workout. I'm not training for anything at the moment, so my exercise routine should be all about good health and wellness rather than pushing myself to the limit.

When I think really hard about it (which I have to watch, because it can hurt if I think TOO hard), I realize that I have done a darn good job this week with healthy choices. I haven't skipped a workout, I have made 90% clean and healthy food choices, I have made sure to get enough water, and I have gone to bed at a good hour and gotten at least 8 hours of sleep a night. Which, face it, compared to most people these days is really good.

So I've decided that I am going to work really hard on changing my view of exercise and healthy living. Though it will remain the priority it already is, I will not be so hard on myself if I don't challenge every muscle during every workout. A nice walk around the neighborhood is lovely and can be a very effective workout, and I need to recognize it as just that. I will vow from here on out, to give myself credit for the healthy choices I make. I know that I will eventually get to run again (which I hope is sooner rather than later!). I will probably begin marathon training sometime this summer, but I will bask in this down time and take it for what is: A nice, active, healthy rest.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Confessions of a Foodie

I love food. I'm sure everyone can say this to some extent, but I feel like I may love food more than the average person. I am a self-diagnosed foodie. I have moments where I am so excited about what I am eating that I feel a sense of disappointment when I am finished. I love the entire process of a meal from fixing it, to cooking it, to eating it. Other than cleaning up afterward, I could spend my life cooking and eating.

I want every new and not so new kitchen gadget I see. I could probably spend a small fortune in Bed Bath and Beyond. I watch The Food Network regularly and keep a running list in my head of every gadget my kitchen is missing. I even ask for these things for Christmas and my Birthday. I also actually use them. I have not one gadget in my kitchen that goes unused.

In addition to kitchen gadgets, I could also spend hours, not to mention millions, at a gourmet grocery store. These stores are my version of heaven. Olive bars, cheese displays, fresh baked breads, and fresh produce make me giddy. I like to hit every display, read labels, browse the different choices and make my selections. I'm not kidding when I say I could spend HOURS in a grocery store.

Someday, I would like to take a vacation to sample the foods of different places. First on my list would be Italy. I am especially fond of Italian cuisine and would love learning more about it. I'm not sure why, but food wise, I feel more in tune and closer to my Italian roots. I just love Italian cuisine and probably make more Italian inspired meals in my kitchen than anything. I recently have had some interest in learning to speak a little bit of Italian...I think it's fun knowing what the name of certain food means, and the origins of what these words are.

On top of all of these things, it's important to me that my food is healthy. I like to "clean up" ordinary recipes using fresher and more nutritious choices. This is like a game to me. I substitute things and leave certain things out of recipes and when I have success I feel triumphant. I love when Justin says something is "really good, babe" despite being the healthier version of one of his favorites. I love developing new, healthy recipes and pairing different flavors and textures. It's my form of creative expression.

I could go on for hours about my love of food and cooking it. I love that as I have grown older my interests in things have become more defined. I'm looking forward to exploring this interest further. It brings me a certain satisfaction to be able to do so. Because my life is entering the phase in which I am content with all that I have and where it is leading, I have more time to learn about what interests me and nourish those interests (no food pun intended!).

Buon Appetito!!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Have a Bone to Pick.

I am so irritated to read a label of one of my old favorite foods and find that it has something "less than healthy" in it. I have just had to shelve for good my beloved 100% Whole Grain Wheat Thins. These seemingly healthy crackers have High Fructose Corn Syrup in them. I know we've all seen the commercials for High Fructose Corn Syrup that say "it's okay in moderation." I disagree and am irritated that this disgusting, cheap, imitation for flavoring is in just about EVERYTHING we eat.

When I say everything, I mean it's in EVERYTHING! Yogurt, Crackers, Fruit Juice, Condiments and this doesn't even scratch the surface.

I'm not saying I know much about the scientific makeup of HFCS, but I do know one thing: Some scientist has to change sugar from it's natural state and alter it to be HFCS so that it has a longer shelf life and food companies can buy it for cheap to make as much money as possible, all the while Americans are getting more overweight and more unhealthy. So what that last run-on sentence tells us is that it's totally unnatural and not good for us.

I wish for just once that a food that is marketed as healthy, such as Wheat Thins, could be just that. It's less popular sister Triscuit has 4 ingredients, all that I can pronounce and know what they are. Triscuit is now going to be my cracker of choice though it doesn't taste as good or crunch as nicely, and I tend to get Triscuit crumbs all over my shirt when I eat them. But for someone like me, who really wants to put only the best things in her body, it's worth the trade off.

I'm not sure what I can do about these deceitful foods that have fooled and continue to fool most Americans into thinking they are making a sound choice. I know ranting on a blog that is read by my parents and maybe a few other people isn't going to fix this. Do I write my congressman? Do I protest the food companies? It seems that all I can do is read labels and be the annoying girl that tells everyone that they shouldn't eat this or that because of some unhealthy acronym of a preservative is in them.

I've explored many ways to make sure that I'm eating healthy and encourage others to read labels on your everyday foods. Chances are if you can't pronounce it, it's probably not something you should be putting in your body. In some of my future posts I may brag about what I do to get around some of the artificial yuckiness in foods and I hope you find some value in something, and live healthier because of it, and maybe even spread the word. In the meantime, I'm going to go and enjoy some grapes and a few Triscuits and most likely be vacuuming the crumbs out of my couch later.

Monday, March 22, 2010

To Walk or Not to Walk?

I conquered a half marathon yesterday. It felt great crossing the finish line with my family and friends cheering me on. It was a thrill finishing strong after 10 weeks of training and some shin problems that I was afraid would ruin my chances of crossing that threshold. I could have cared less about my time, just getting across that glorious finish line was what I was striving for. I didn't walk once during the race.

I must have been practicing the not walking for the days following the race because I am having some difficulties today. I have limped around all day long trying to get my everyday tasks at work and home taken care of. The longer I would sit at my desk at work the worse it would hurt when I would attempt to walk again. Though this has ailed me all day....I am not complaining. I earned every ache and pain I am experiencing from a really proud moment that I wouldn't trade for anything.

My next goal is to run a full marathon. I'm sure that I'll have to take a day or two off of work after 26.2 miles of pavement pounding. Walking will most likely be rough though I'm sure it will be just as worth it.

I'll walk of these days!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ready and rearing to go!

I have never blogged before in my life. Nor do I know how to do half of the things I probably should in starting this. I have spent the last few weeks reading blogs of family, friends, and strangers and felt the urge to dabble a little myself. I have made the New Years resolution to step out of my comfort zone more often and blogging is most definitely out of my comfort zone.

So here I go, sharing little pieces of my life with family, friends, and strangers alike. Some pieces are ordinary and some are not, but I'm hoping all will have something useful to at least one reader. If not one reader is interested, that's okay, I can still check blogging off of my bucket list and go on with my uninteresting existence in peace (though I'm pretty sure there is at least ONE person!!).

Feel free to comment all you want and try to keep up, the inner workings of my brain can be hard to follow at times or maybe that's just the inner workings of my brain making me think that it's more complicated than I think. Enjoy.