Archive for the ‘Advice/Tips’ Category
It was cold, and I was exhausted- but what was going on with my legs? I could feel the panic slowly working its way up from my knees to my brain. At 30 years-old, I was finally starting to feel the effects of aging.
My knees hurt.
I suddenly started to think back to all of the long runs and all of the soccer games; the worn out, worn down Adidas trainers that I had refused to throw away after college and still wore for trail runs because of the ‘natural’ feel they provided. I was also on three different soccer teams at the moment: THREE.
Maybe this was a sign. Had I done too much? I reflected on my athletic life , desperately trying to justify all of the reasons why I didn’t need to quit soccer; justifying why I continued to run in worn out shoes despite having two practically untouched pairs, collecting dust in the closet.
I ran through a list of possibilities for the pulsating, aching pain. Had I gained weight? Maybe I should’ve been taking those stupid D vitamins after all. Was this the beginning of osteoporosis? I thought about the couple of silver hairs that had managed to proudly push their way through the massive amount of dark hair in the front of my head. What would be next- breaking a hip?
The warm, sweet smell wafts throughout the house. Somewhere, downstairs, a timer goes off. The oven door is opened, the smell intensifying. Moments later, a cold glass of skim milk and a warm, chocolate chip cookie are married together- a lovely reception of melted chocolate, sugar, cocoa and milk coursing through my veins, filling me with unbridled joy- a match made in Heaven. -jv
Gimmee the Sweet Stuff
When life turns sour, sometimes it’s nice to have something sweet to temporarily pick you up.
I love chocolate chip cookies.
But not just any chocolate chip cookies.
I am picky.
I don’t like chocolate chip cookies with any “extras”. No nuts, raisins, extra fudge or any of that nonsense. They can’t be too sweet or too bland; too large or too tiny. In fact, the one brand of chocolate chip cookies that I am particularly fond of is Chips Ahoy!
When I’m on a sugar kick, I’ll carefully arrange a fanned out circle of Chips Ahoy! cookies on a plate, pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds and dunk them in cold, skim milk.
Everyone who knows me knows that I am a total sucker for sweets. Girlscout Samoas, Italian rainbow cookies, apple pie, Dunkin’ Donuts Boston Kremes…
Growing Up Junk Food Free
At 30-years old, I purposely avoid filling my kitchen pantry or refrigerator with junk food, including sugar- something which I’ve carried over from when I was growing up.
My mother never bought junk food. We never ate Ring Dings, Devil Dogs, Twinkies or Gushers. We always had a healthy serving of fruits and veggies at every meal. Lunches were made at home and brought to school, dinners were eaten as a family at the dining table [Gasp!], and sugary treats were these foreign ‘things’ that my grandmother would bring over on occasion when she came to visit.
I would often observe my friends eating their lunches at school and make mental comparisons. Where a typical lunch for me would consist of a bottle of water, deli turkey with mustard and lettuce on whole wheat bread, some wheat thins and a Ziploc bag filled with grapes; their lunch would include: a can of soda, a packet of gummy bears, some sort of sandwich on white bread with mayo and Doritos.
No one ever asked to trade their lunches with me.
To this day, I still eat pretty healthy. Admittedly, I could probably step it up in the veggies department, but one of my downfalls continues to be sugar. My grandmother is a self-proclaimed sugar addict, and the two of us constantly joke that I get my sweet tooth from her; and it takes everything I have to not completely collapse into a diabetic coma every time I drive out to visit her.
When I’m by myself, I can usually control the sugar cravings, but when I’m in social situations (particularly when around family), my sugar snout automatically detects any sweets within a 4-room radius; and then it’s Go-Time. I’ve found myself getting annoyed lately when I’m home, visiting my parents: “You know I have a problem with sugar- so why do you buy this stuff when you know I’m here?!”
Is it an addiction? Is it wrong to love the way chocolate tastes like liquid gold or the way warm apple pie and vanilla ice cream melt together?
I don’t think so.
But when you can’t stop at one small slice of pie; when you can’t just have 3 chocolate chip cookies and call it a day; when you’ve made your 3rd or 4th trip back to the refrigerator for that third cup of “healthy” yogurt, you’ve got to draw the line somewhere.
Below are some suggestions to help you (and me) get started.
5 Tips to Skip the Sugar
- Don’t buy it! The easiest way to avoid consuming sugar is to avoid buying it in the first place. Keep your kitchen stocked with plenty of fresh or frozen fruits and veggies instead- this way the only options you have are healthy ones!
- Drink plenty of water or herbal tea. Water fills you up and keeps your body hydrated. Both are important for your overall health!
- Exercise. Exercising will help to reinvigorate you and will reinforce your fitness goals and mental willpower.
- Clean out the mental junk before you eat it! There are plenty of studies which link our emotional connection to junky/sugary foods. Something bothering you? Pick up the phone and talk to a family member or friend, and make sure you stay out of the kitchen when you chat! Most mindless snacking takes place while talking on the phone.
Lastly, don’t let anyone tell you that you have to absolutely cut out ALL sugar from your life. There’s nothing wrong with eating in moderation, but if you are just starting out or know that you lack the willpower to control yourself [Ahem..], then it’s probably in your best interest to avoid sugary snacks. Otherwise, don’t beat yourself up over having a couple of cookies or a slice of cake here and there.
The bagel, an unsweetened doughnut with rigor mortis. -Beatrice & Ira Freeman
- The human body contains more than 650 muscles.
- By the age of 65, if you haven’t been engaging in regular exercise, you may incur as much as an 80 percent decrease in muscle strength!
- It takes a 3500 calorie deficit to lose 1 pound.
- You can’t target fat loss – fat loss is systemic.
- It’s harder to put on 10 pounds of muscle than it is to lose 10 pounds of fat.
- Late-night snacking doesn’t make you fat; overeating does!
- Keeping unhealthy food in your home increases the likelihood that you’ll eat it.
- The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn.
- You can lose weight while still gaining muscle. Similarly, you can gain weight while losing fat!
- Exercise boosts brainpower and mental clarity. It also reduces stress and increases energy levels.
I had had a rough night.
Battling snakes in your dreams for 6 hours doesn’t lend itself to being “well rested”. Throw on top of that a day consumed by staring at a computer screen, and the last thing I wanted to do was go for a run.
However, I knew it would make me feel better. But before I embark on that, let me say a couple of things about what it’s like to go running around here with summer looming right around the corner.
Weather woes in NC
If you’ve never experienced the weather in Raleigh, NC at this time of year, imagine living in the middle of a tropical jungle. The air is moist and oppressive; horseflies and other creepy crawly bugs are abundant; the sun beats angrily down on you; and every time it rains, you can almost always expect some sort of severe weather warning to go along with it.
In the mornings, I’ve found that the humidity tends to be slightly worse (depending on whether or not it has rained recently); so, my decision to round out my day with an evening run only made sense. As it turned out- those snakes didn’t have nothin’ on me. I clocked in my 10.75 mile run at just under 1 hour and 12 minutes…not too shabby given the fact that I had been battling sleeplessness, eating a little too close to my run, and an 80% humidity level. Now, imagine what I really could’ve done if I was firing on all engines!
[photo by Dave Goodman on flickr]
Like most other runners, I LOVE trail running. There’s just something incredibly soothing to it all once I feel the tread of dirt and gravel beneath my feet. And on most days, I’m left alone to enjoy the peace and quiet- until the warmer months start to hit. That’s when I really start picking up the pace of my trail runs…partly because of the euphoria of my runner’s high, but mostly because I’m being chased by vampire-like, blood-sucking demon flies.
When we run, we put up with a lot of annoying things, but nothing is more annoying (and painful) than horseflies. And chances are pretty decent that if you’ve been running in wooded areas lately, you’ve been chased and assaulted by these archfiends. All of the pain and swelling aside, the following are some interesting and perhaps useful tips that I’ve managed to compile about these painfully pesky pests.
[image by Thomas Shahan on flickr]