Keep Trying.

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I’m past the anguish of that bad half marathon and am forcing myself to push through life’s curveballs, like unemployment and family illness. To be honest, running a bad half marathon is a good problem to have.

I originally titled this post “Just Keep Trying,” but then remembered that “just” is such a marginalizing and minimalizing word. One I am trying to cut completely from my vocabulary. But I digress. Trying is both easy and hard, but not something you can “just” do. Anyhow.

Tonight I want to reiterate the importance of hanging in and pushing and experimenting. And tonight I indulged my craving for oatmeal and my love of eggs with said oatmeal and my craving something spicy-ish. And so I just devoured a bowl of spicy, delicious, and only (per MyFitnessPal) 320 calories Sriracha eggs and oats. With some Riesling, because my calorie count was down for the day and I felt like sipping.

1/2 c of Quaker quick oats, a cup of water, and 2T of sriracha. More or less depending on your tastes.

Microwaved it for two minutes while I fried two eggs in coconut cooking spray, cooked over very easy.

Salted and peppered the oats, put the runny yolked eggs on top, drizzled with more sriracha, salted and peppered again…

Delicious spicy heaven.

Trying new things is exciting and fun and sometimes successful.

Keep doing.

Go.

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The Ultimate Smoothie.

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I’m making the claim publicly. That’s how serious this is. Last night, I made The Ultimate Smoothie. Actually, last night I made the best smoothie I’ve ever had. Today I converted it to The Ultimate Smoothie. I thought it needed protein so I added some Greek yogurt. The end.

As is so often the case, I build a smoothie based on a combination of what I want, what I have in the house, and what I think will go well together. I also make decisions based on whether the smoothie is a breakfast smoothie, a meal (lunch or dinner) smoothie, or a snack smoothie. My sister makes fun of me for categorizing my smoothies this way, but there’s definitely a difference. This one is without doubt a meal smoothie. Per MyFitnessPal, it clocks in under 500 calories, 23 grams of protein, and only 4 grams of fat.

The best thing about it, I think, is that even avowed green drink haters will convert to this one. Well, at least my avowed green drink hater will. The taste of the greens is completely masked. The texture is masked by how good your blender is and how much you blend. Otherwise, the only giveaway is the color—a pretty green, pale, speckled with kale.

Here’s what goes into The Ultimate Smoothie:

8oz coconut water
3.5oz light coconut milk
2.1oz 100% pineapple juice
6 oz nonfat plain Greek yogurt
100g baby kale mix
4.9oz frozen banana
1c Dole Wildly Nutritious Tropical Medley

Blend the hell out of it. Then marvel at how good it tastes, and how good it is for you.

Other than that, keep trying. Do. Move. Remember. Positive momentum drives positive momentum and that drives results. You want to change. You make it happen. Listen to yourself, push yourself, be good to yourself. Tell yourself whatever you need to tell yourself to keep yourself going. Find positive affirmation. Just go. Now.

Oz Isn’t a Real Place, Right?

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I was watching the Today show just now and they showed a story that I had seen a blurb about on Facebook earlier this morning. It was about Dr. Oz testifying before Congress and how he was taken to task over his endorsement of miracle cures for weight loss.

It got me to thinking a few things:

  • Dr. Oz belongs in Oz, a land of make-believe…where inhabitants inevitably crash back I to reality.
  • It’s funny that his name is Oz. Wonder why anyone trusts the crazy wizard in the first place.
  • And the big one—if it sounds too good to be true, it is!

If there were a miracle cure for weight loss, there would not be an obesity epidemic raging in this country.

You can not out-train a shitty diet, no matter what.

So ignore all these magic bullet products and workouts, and consider this:

  • Your goals are uniquely your own.
  • You need to commit.
  • You need to work hard.
  • You need to make sustainable, lasting change.
  • You can do it.

You just need to do it. It’s that simple and that difficult. It’s not easy but it gets easier. Your new habits will become the fabric of your life, and positive change will breed positive change.

Even If You’re Afraid, Do New Things

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In the words of Yoda, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

Sometimes the success is in the doing, not in the outcome. It’s easy to forget that.

But I’ve often said “just start.” And before you know it, you have momentum, you have change…and then positive momentum and change will drive more positive momentum and change…the more positive momentum you have, the more muscle you have to deflect challenges, stay upright over the speed bumps, and scale other obstacles in your path.

Think big, start small and the next thing you know, you will be on your way.

For me, it was a disappointing performance in my most recent (third ever) half marathon that had me facing one of my “fears.” My fear of speed work. Maybe it’s because when I started running, people would report that they saw me out walking. Maybe I was intimidated and/or insecure. Maybe it was something else, or maybe it’s a combination of many something elses. But that’s no matter, and thinking about it is a waste of time. I had read an article about doing speed work on the road (v on a track) and I had to try. My running seems to be at a plateau, and I want and need to break through it.

So I programmed my Garmin and set out on the first speed workout—warm up, then alternate a half mile at target 5K pace and a quarter mile of recovery…repeat that three times, and cool down…for slightly over a 5K distance, and a little bit shy of my normal 3.4 mile loop. I figured I’d stop sooner than usual, anticipating that I would want to walk a bit at the end (I was right).

How was it? TERRIBLE. I couldn’t sustain the target pace in the third repeat. I needed the walk at the end of the cool down. And overall, my pace wasn’t much faster than my regular pace. So what was the point?

Before I knew it, I realized that the point was that it was so terrible. I committed then and there to do speed work of some sort one day a week. Because it was hard, I knew I needed to practice. If I had done the speed work and it was easy, what would the point have been? And today, a day later, I realize that I should be happy that it was so hard. It gives me a challenge, it gives me a goal, and it gives me the possibility of the satisfaction that comes with achieving results. Do I have to make a big deal about it? No. But do I have to make a deal with myself to commit to this improvement, and to commit 100%? Yes.

And that’s how the ongoing improvement works. Dealing with my own unique circumstances, finding a system and an approach that works for me, sticking to it, being kind to myself, and getting it done.

What was I so afraid of? What was the worst that could happen? And why wouldn’t I be willing to accept that “worst” consequence? In this case, not finishing?

I need to do more and worry less in all aspects of my life. Worry accomplishes nothing and doing changes the world.

So today, when I was hungry, I made and ate tofu yogurt.. It was easy and delicious and fast and cheap and healthy. And if it was terrible? I would have thrown it away, wasted about $2, and I would have known.

Which reminds me of the importance of knowing, even something bad, v wondering and/or dreaming and/or worrying endlessly.

So stand up and do. What are you waiting for?

I leave you with two very relevant quotes that crossed my path today (from Laird Hamilton and Anna Deavere Smith respectively):

“Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your own two ears.”

“What you are will show, ultimately. Start now, every day, becoming, in your actions, your regular actions, what you would like to become in the bigger scheme of things.”

Like Ferris Bueller asks: “You’re still here?” Go. Do. Be. Be happy.

Buffalo Banging Cauliflower

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So yesterday someone told me that lunch was going to be the buffalo tofu bowl from Boloco. It got me wanting it soooo bad. Especially because just that morning I converted my Boloco card to the new Boloco Passport, and had $17 free to spend.

But dinner was already fixed, kind of. Veggie burgers. And a veggie side. So I chose chick peas for the burgers and a buffalo veg for the side–and with it reminded myself that dinner was only kind of fixed and how lucky I was to have a choice regarding the specific execution of it. I had two recipes I wanted to try, one for “Bang Bang Buffalo Cauliflower” and the other for “Buffalo Cauliflower.” Upon closer inspection, the first one lost appeal because it was too much work (dip in egg white and dredge in almond flour) and the second one had too much butter (a whole stick!).

So I made my own Buffalo Banging Caulifower, thusly:

I had a big head of cauliflower, which when all was said and done was just shy of 2.5 pounds. I got it cut up, not too small. Put it on a sprayed baking sheet, drizzled some olive oil on top, sprinkled some salt and pepper on, and lightly tossed it. After about 25 minutes in a 400° oven, it had browned up nicely. (I moved it around once during that time.)

While the cauliflower was roasting, I mixed up my sauce in a big bowl. You need enough to completely cover all of the veg, so for my 2.5 pounds, this worked fine: 1/2 cup of hot buffalo wing sauce (I like it spicy spicy, so use regular buffalo or mild to your preference), 2T sriracha, 1T honey (optional), salt, and pepper.

When the cauliflower was cool enough to handle, I cut the florets smaller, about bite sized, and tossed them in the sauce, making sure to get all of the cauliflower covered. I then put the cauliflower back into the over, though this time at 450°, and let it cook for about another 10 minutes. The result was spicy, heavenly, healthy deliciousness!

And it was a great accompaniment to the garbanzo bean burgers, though I suspect even better with the black bean variety of veggie burger.

I’ll leave you with an unrelated quote (unrelated to cauliflower but completely related to life) of unknown (to the best of my research) origins, words that are a nice reminder, and make me glad that I emailed a company yesterday about a job they don’t have (yet?) and that I put on a suit and went in to talk about it today, even though there’s nothing there:

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Get out of your comfort zone and kill it! Go!

Holy Hot Hilly Hell, RunnerGirl!

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So yesterday I ran my third half marathon, and am subsequently dealing with my first disappointing race results.

My stretch goal was a PR, or breaking 1:55:54. My “good enough” goal was to break two hours. When all was said and done, I ended up with a “not my worst time of the three” finish of 2:03:33. (My first half I finished in 2:05:21.)

I was so disappointed. I never saw the 2:00 pace group pass me at the end. It was so hot. So hilly. I lost an earbud at the halfway point, so my only auditory accompaniment was my own wheezing and panting. I walked at the water stops for longer than usual. I had to pee the whole race, I really had to pee about mile 5, and I really really had to peel from mile 9 on. And then I thought to myself, “Am I making excuses?”

As I rehydrated after the race, I was just glad to be done. I was soaked with sweat and overheating. I hit the restroom, then sat down to mix some water and Gatorade and eat a banana.

Then I thought about it even more, and I decided they weren’t excuses…although perhaps I was rationalizing…but in the end I started seeing these things as the unique variables that influenced my performance. Could I have fought through more? Should I have trained harder? Could I have done better? Or did I fight and train as hard as I could?Did I do my absolute best? Did I leave it all out there on Comm Ave.? It really was a lot to process.

Then some of the positives started bubbling up.

I finished.
I finished in a perfectly respectable time.
I bumped into an old and long-lost friend after the race, and now we’re likely to stay re-connected.
My girlfriend was waiting for me at the finish line and it was her birthday.
I accomplished something huge for the third time, something that was unthinkable 18 months ago.
All that hurt were my two second toes. (Although they did—and still do—hurt a lot, and probably will preclude my wearing flip flops and getting pedicures this summer.)

Yet there was still disappointment. I even found myself unable to enjoy even looking at running clothes at Athleta.

And then it hit me, as it so often does. That there was a long list of positives and a long list of negatives…and I could choose what list I want to live. I decided to live with both. To consider the negatives in the context of the positive.

Which has led me to realize that I have now added another dimension to how I process what happens to me. I talk about balance a lot. About considering things in the aggregate and not over-focusing or over-anguishing about pin dots in the big picture of life.

But the experience I had in my race yesterday and how I have processed it since have given me another tool I can use to wrap my head around my life experiences. Sure, this race is one of those “pin dots.” But it’s really big to me right now. So I need to remember to, in these pin-dot moments, remember not to let myself get swallowed by the negatives but rather stiff-arm them and consider them in the context of the positives! Doing so will enable me to make an honest assessment of what’s happening and why it’s happening, and to address the bad stuff using the momentum of the good stuff. As I type I realize that positive momentum brings positive momentum, and that negative momentum drives more negative momentum. So I’m going to choose to fuel my positive momentum with the lessons I learn from the negative stuff. And I’m also going to remind myself that the so-called “negative” stuff is often more like “positive stuff that just didn’t go according to plan.”

This is the pic of me that my girlfriend posted to Facebook yesterday, accompanied by “She finished!”

And today I realized that she did in fact finish…she is not finished because she didn’t finish when she wanted to. She finished! A positive, positive thing!

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So now I am going to take today to decompress, and tomorrow I’m taking my $50 gift certificate to Marathon Sports to talk about some new sneakers, and maybe even a pair that can better accommodate my “descended-from-royalty” second toes. (Oh, and when my number came in the mail today for the BAA 10K on 6/22? I was ecstatic. Go figure!)

Culture Clash: A Run V A Donut

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This week showcased two “National ________________ Days,” which couldn’t have been at more opposite ends of the fitness spectrum. National Running Day, which was Wednesday 6/4, and National Donut Day, which is today, 6/6. I’m happy to say that on both days I ran, on neither did I eat a donut, but in the sprit of full disclosure, I had a piece of chocolate cake for breakfast yesterday.

And it was delicious.

However, the whole run v donut, healthy v healthy clash posed by these two days gave me a a renewed focus on the power of good choices, the need to forgive ourselves the bad ones, and the importance of ensuring that in the aggregate the majority of our choices are good. And if that is not the case, we must aim to make one more good choice with each day. Just one. Start.

Because I’m no longer eating dinner alone every night, I’m trying to do a better job of shaking things up, staying meatless as often as possible, not eating scraps from the fridge, and not going to bed hungry.

As you know, I met the wheat berry last week, and yesterday I introduced it around, in the form of this recipe. It was delicious, we both loved it, and there was no shortage of conversation about how filling the wheat berries are, especially given they are only 150c per serving.

Fast forward to today, and the point of this post. The versatility of a dish like this. Or anything with quinoa or couscous as a base. You can eat it hot for dinner, then take the leftovers cold for lunch the next day. I like the fact that eating it like a cold salad is an excellent use of leftovers, without tasting like I’m eating the same thing as I did 16 or 18 hours before. I also like the fact that I can have two great, healthy meals from a single dish. Per MyFitness pal, this dish clocks in just under 300 calories per serving, and. Don’t think it gets any better than that.

So do yourself a favor and start experimenting with wheat berries and quinoa, and see for yourself!