Spinning at Home

>> Friday, May 31, 2013

I have been mentioning cross-training quite a bit in my running-related posts recently. It's because I've been doing much more of it, especially getting back into indoor cycling. And a few of you had questions, so I thought I'd address them in a post rather than replying individually.

(Skipping the Weekend Things post this week because regular stuff has been spotty.)

#1: You have a gym membership -- why did you buy your own spinning bike? 

Well, we NOW have a gym membership, but back when we bought our bike in 2010, we didn't. It was a well thought out purchase because Stephen and I both enjoy spinning, but don't always have the money + time + motivation for classes.

Plus, honestly, those spinning die-hards sort of intimidate me.

At the time, we also didn't have a treadmill either, so the idea was that if the weather is icy or below zero (or, in this case, when it's 90 degrees -- because, apparently, I hate extremes), we'd have a good workout we could complete indoors. As well, we were both trying to get in some low-impact training to balance out all the miles run on the road.

#2: What kind of bike do you have? 

We have a basic, base model by Spinner. It's been a few years, so the closest bike I could find is the Spinner Fit Indoor Cycle. It may seem like a bit of an investment at first, it costs around $600, but after three years of use, it's really held up well. And that bike I linked to comes with 4 DVDs, which I'll write more about in a minute.

I have been surprised with how solid + sturdy it is despite being a lower level on the spectrum of other spinning bikes available. However, there are also a few models that run under $200!

If you're already a cyclist, you may also be able to get yourself an indoor trainer and ride the bike you already own year-round. I don't have a road bike (mine's a hybrid), so I don't know if this was an option. I'd love to hear more from people who ride with trainers.

#3: What is your setup like? Any other gear needed? 

As you can see, I ride our spinning bike right in the living room amidst unfinished puzzles and stuffed animals. For the time being, we're storing the bike in our entryway, which will need to change when we start using that space more formally after we do a bit of renovation work. A true benefit to a spinning bike versus a treadmill is the small footprint.

As far as other gear goes:

  • I have a pair of padded bike shorts to cushion the uncomfortable-ness. I like the shorter ones because I sweat like crazy while spinning.
  • Though I'm not wearing them in these photos, my Merrell Barefoot Glove shoes work extremely well for spinning. Not quite as hard/intense as normal cycling shoes, but more support and less bounce than my Brooks Pure Flows (the workout in my running shoes wasn't very comfortable, truth be told!).
  • And a towel + water bottle are absolute essentials, too.
#4: What workouts do you do? How long/times a week?

If you want, you can just switch on music or TV and ride. Make your own mountains, etc. If you've ever been to a spinning class, you sort of know the different positions on the bike. Sitting, "jogging" or standing, and then that third sort of position of standing with your butt out and holding the low handlebars. Right? Right.

I prefer to do a DVD, which I've mentioned before, because I find when I go rogue, I quit after 15-20 minutes. Trying to push through pain while watching a Lifetime movie just doesn't happen.

// I have the Spinning Turn + Burn DVD. It's great for an intense 45-50 minute interval workout. It includes climbs of 5 different hills of varying lengths. I am drenched when it's over. And always pleasantly surprised I could actually finish it. I do this workout once a week, but am looking to increase to twice/week.

I'd like to vary the routine, so I'm eying these others:

  • Spinning Ireland Road Tour -- because it might be more fun to watch scenery than the real or imagined sexual tension I pick up in my current DVD.
  • Spinning Crank it Up -- it's by the same instructor, but I guess it's at the "next level" and got a lot of good reviews.
  • Spinervals Competition -- this one sounds intense. Description says it's difficulty 9.9 on a 1-10 scale. Might be good as a replacement for a speed workout once in a while.
  • Mindy Mylrea: Short & Sweet Cycling -- I think I'd use the bike more if I had the option for shorter workouts. This DVD has 3 20-ish minute ones to choose from.

(See the torn-up floor boards? this room is getting a face-lift!)

This question wasn't asked, but I'll just tell you my favorite part of spinning is when it's over. I tend to dread my cross-training because running -- though difficult at times -- is my happy place. When I venture out of my fitness-zone, I feel much more exertion. But that's a GOOD thing.

What spinning gives me that running doesn't is this gigantic sense of accomplishment . . . but more in a surprised way. Like I mentioned above, when I finish a workout, I'm always like "WHOA, REALLY?! I just did that and didn't stop?!?!"

So, that's a good way to feel once + a while.

Spinning is also undeniably great for my running. I know I've written it in the past, but I ran my fastest 5K even when I was spinning 2/week. It's because the motion gets your legs moving faster and the resistance is tough and makes you push through more than with just running. At least in my not-so expert opinion.

Do you spin? Anything more to add? I'd love to get more into outdoor biking, too, but we don't live in an area with tons of long bike paths or safe roads. It's quite a bit of traffic until things open up. Though I really should investigate more!

Happy weekend, everyone!

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Tofu Salad Cups

>> Wednesday, May 29, 2013

So, instead of a Tofu-Avocado Salad sandwich or wrap . . .

Make a mini phyllo bowl!

Obviously you won't have time or the desire to make something snazzy like this for lunch every single day. But once in a while, a delicious phyllo dough crust is just right. Especially in summer, when light finger-type foods are preferred over gigantic, heavy submarine rolls.

  • If you use store bought phyllo, which I'll get to in a moment, you'll need to thaw in the refrigerator overnight or follow the instructions on the box. So, make sure you do that before proceeding. 
  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a muffin tin with olive oil or butter/Earth Balance and set aside. 
  • Make up a batch of the Tofu-Avocado Salad (or even Avocado-Egg Salad) and set aside // refrigerate.
  • I used frozen phyllo dough for this recipe because making my own seemed far too daunting. However, if you're interested, here's a recipe for phyllo dough
  • The secret to making phyllo cups is being liberal with olive oil or butter/Earth Balance. When it gets too dry -- even just sitting uncovered for a minute -- it breaks apart, and there's no returning from it. There should be information on the package about keeping everything moist and pliable.
  • Lay down a large sheet of phyllo, brush it with olive oil, lay down another sheet, brush, another sheet, brush, and yet another sheet with more oil. That's 4 layers total. You could do 3 as well.
  • Cut into 5 - 6 inch squares and press them -- gently -- into a (again, greased) muffin tin to form a mini-bowl or cup. 
  • Bake for 10 minutes or so, until golden brown. Be careful not to over-bake.

Then all you need to do is let them cool and scoop in the salad . . .

It's crisp. It's light. It's fun. We have a Greek food festival coming up this weekend where we live, so I guess phyllo is on the mind. I have already decided I'm going to try and make my own spanakopita over the weekend.

And if you haven't tried it yet, the Tofu-Avocado Salad and Avocado-Egg Salad recipes are simple + tasty + quick to prepare. We eat one of them at least once a week over here.

What's your favorite light meal for summer? Or have you used phyllo in cooking before? How?

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Brunch Sandwich

>> Monday, May 27, 2013

If I ever open a restaurant, it will be called Brunch.

And I will serve only brunch.

And this sandwich will be the signature item on the menu.

It sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is.

Let's break it down:

  • First you'll need to roast one large portabella per sandwich you intend to make. (You can find some handy instructions in this post all about the merits of mushrooms for runners.)
  • You'll need slices of tomato and avocado, too. As well as some cream cheese or Tofutti, which is what we had in the fridge.
  • The french toast is just slices of sourdough bread soaked in an egg mixture and then cooked over medium-high heat on both sides until browned.
  • = 2 whole eggs + 1 tablespoons Chipotle Vegenaise + 1-3 tablespoons almond milk. Whisked.
  • (That should be enough to soak 6 to 8 slices of bread or make 3 to 4 sandwiches.) 

Sandwich assembly is quite easy.

Slice everything up nice + thin, then pile on to your liking.

Fold into a sandwich and cut.

You may remember back in my last waffle post that I had intended to give you a waffle sandwich recipe that was of the savory variety. Well, yes. But I never took photos. Anyway, this is pretty much THAT sandwich.

But there's more sandwich deliciousness where this came from.

Stay tuned . . .

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Weekend Things

>> Friday, May 24, 2013

Happy Memorial Day weekend. We hope our US readers are looking forward to a nice, long weekend. The temperatures have taken a nose-dive where we live, so those visions of lazy afternoon picnics and other outdoor activities have sort of faded for us. But that's OK. I'm getting an eye exam (FINALLY) to see if I can get some contacts again. Summer running with glasses is the pits!

Let's get to it . . .

// Hilarious //
What It's like to Talk to a 2-Year-Old video via Huffington Post
Julianne Moore cuts her toes off -- take that, perfection!
Duck + Dog = Best Friends, which is Stephen's pick.

// Active Family //
Great sale on Kelty Packs + Carriers -- for kids up to 50 pounds.
2-in-1 Allen Bike Trailer/Jogger for the upcoming summer months.
We actually bought one this week -- I'll write about it ASAP.

// Drool-Worthy //
Homemade Arugula Ricotta via Lady and Pups

// Smart Stuff //
Pretty + functional magazine racks to store produce -- brilliant!
How to Build Raised Garden Beds -- incredible!
DIY cement garden letters -- what a cute idea!

// Good Books //
Real Snacks: Make Your Favorite Childhood Treats Without All the Junk
Real Food: What to Eat + Why -- seems simple enough.
Monsters Don't Eat Broccoli -- for the kids.

// Fashion Finds //
I need a couple good quality t-shirts for the summer season ahead.
Update: I LOVE those Leopard Print Crocs I bought. Embarrassingly so.
Up to 70% off Kate Spade Jewelry + more to punctuate a simple wardrobe.

 // Also . . . // 
I've pared my closet down to just 50 clothing items.
No, really. And it's already much easier this way. I'll write more soon.
Been looking back through Kendi's 30 for 30 archives for outfit inspiration

// NY Times Reading Assignments //

And here's what you may have missed this week on Writing Chapter Three:

Have a great weekend!

Psst: You can check out more Weekend Things here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here.

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Cheesy Old Bay Biscuits

>> Thursday, May 23, 2013

I struggle with my identity as a "food photographer" -- which sounds like a ridiculous statement to make at all (because who really cares?), but it's true.

Do I want my photos to be fun + brightly colored?
Do I want to make quirky doodles all over the place because I'm feeling insecure?
Or how about some simple + moody shots. Food. Is. Serious. Business.

I honestly think it has more to do with the cloud cover on any given day than it does with my mastery of any sort of tone. Or use of props. Or editing. We'll see what things look like tomorrow, next week, etc.

Nothing new here. Just cut up Brussels sprouts, an onion or two, and a couple portabellas. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Roast for about a half hour, stirring every once and again.

Set aside and drop the oven temperature to 350 degrees F to make these!

Just like the ones at Red Lobster, except not at all. Makes 12.

What you'll need . . . 

  • 1-1/2 cups white + whole wheat flour 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder 
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning 
  • Heaping half cup shredded Colby-Jack cheese
  • 1 cup almond milk

Method . . .

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a standard size muffin tin and set aside. Alternatively, you can just make these drop biscuits and bake on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  2. Pour your flour into a large bowl, then add the olive oil in the center and mix around with your hands + fingertips. You want the texture to become crumbly, almost as if you're cutting in butter. I just didn't have butter, but this worked well.
  3. Then add the baking powder, Old Bay, and cheese and mix. 
  4. Stir in the almond milk until everything is juice moistened. Do not over-stir.
  5. Divide evenly into muffin tins. I found heaping tablespoons worked well as a measure.
  6. Then bake for between 15 - 18 minutes. Or until the tops are golden brown on the edges. The centers may feel a bit soft, but that's OK. There's CHEESE!

We'll definitely be making these again. Baking powder biscuits in general are so easy to throw together. And you can improvise. I usually just stick with around 1 to 1-1/2 cups flour with 1 tablespoon baking powder, and the rest can be fun to play with.

Like even sweet ones! I made Strawberry Shortcake Biscuits for breakfast yesterday. I didn't get good photos and our strawberries are now long gone, but I will share the recipe soon. Ada helped!

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Boilermaker Training Plans

>> Wednesday, May 22, 2013

It's been effing hot and I hate running in the heat. Last night's 4+-miler was in 87, sunny, and super muggy. With pollen basically choking me the entire way. It's everywhere. Ick. BUT I've started my training for the Boilermaker 15K that is in about 8 weeks. (Oh, crap -- we still haven't made hotel arrangements!)

I don't have a goal for this race except to beat my last time, which -- in 2010 -- was 1:13:45, 7:55 pace. I'm thinking it won't be terribly difficult since my recent half marathon was run at that exact pace. Rather, I RAN it at that pace, stupid passive voice! 

Possible secret weapon: 

I added a spinning workout to my routine last Wednesday. A way to get my legs moving fast without impact. And with the added resistance, I know it's helped in the past shave seconds, even minutes off race times.

As much as I'm dreading it (because it's so damned hard to get back into spinning after a 2-year hiatus), I'm going to give it another go tonight. Does anyone else have the Spinning Turn + Burn DVD? I swear the instructor must have been sleeping with half the class with all those swoon-eyes.

(My mind wanders to strange places when I physically challenge myself.)


To develop this plan, I used Smart Coach via Runner's World at Jen's suggestion.I likely won't run my easy miles at certain paces (I usually come in around 8:25/mile versus 9+ -- but with the heat, who knows?) However, the harder workouts are definitely something I'm sticking to. And the good news? They aren't all that far off what I did in my last training cycle.

I like that most weeks are just 4 days of running and those that are 5 have some pretty low mileage. I'll be fitting in a spinning workout + a yoga class each week, too.

I'm not so sure about the 1:10:50 magic number that the calculator came up with for my finish time. The course is hilly and hot, hot, hot. But at least doing the speedwork to try and achieve this goal will help with my longer-term 1:40 half marathon plans for the fall.

So, that's what's going on in my training. How about you?

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Pizza || Lightened Up

>> Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Talk about food rut. My name is Ashley, and I'm a pizza-haulic. But you already know this about me. We're not talking Domino's or Little Caesar's. No. Just like sandwiches, there are so many different ways to get my fix.

And the fastest + easiest way to lighten up a pie is by thinning out the crust and topping with roasted veggies.

Exhibit A:

Here we have . . .
  • 2 poblano peppers 
  • 1 large yellow squash
  • 1 medium cooking onion
  • pinch salt + pepper 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • (and I added 1/2 cup garbanzos)
For the crust . . . 

I made a half batch of Jamie Oliver's pizza dough (full recipe calls for 7 cups flour, but we've found when using white-whole wheat and halving it, 3 cups is usually enough versus 3.5) and divided it into THREE sections. (Each is about a cup of flour.)

To make the crust thin + crispy, it works best to let the dough rise fully, punch down and then refrigerate overnight . . . and then take out for about an hour or two before use.

Sauce + Cheese . . .

  • I used 1/2 cup of our Boozy + Bold Tomato Sauce, without the booze. No substitution either. Just left it out.
  • Then a healthy 1/2 cup of Colby-Jack cheese sprinkled on top. Maybe another sprinkle for good measure.
Putting it together . . . 

  1. With the oven preheated to 400 degrees F, I just roasted the veggies for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they were browned.
  2. I upped the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and put our baking stone inside to warm up.
  3. I rolled out the dough onto a lightly floured surface using a rolling pin to get it really flat and then transferred it to the stone and baked for around 2 minutes.
  4. I flipped the dough over and then spread out my sauce, topped with the roasted veggies, and finished with the cheese.
  5. Baked for between 11-13 minutes, until golden brown.
  6. Then we cut the pizza in half, topped with some hot sauce, and it was gone in no time at all!

I don't plan on giving calorie breakdowns for all my recipes now, but a.) I've been keeping up my meal diary and b.) it's been a request I've received (overwhelming, actually) in the past. Anyway, I was surprised this meal came in so "good" calorie-wise (even though this isn't EXACT, like I over-shot the cheese -- but I tried getting as much info in there as possible). Because it's pizza. It's something I eat all the time. And it's pretty darned healthy.

Another food rut I'll happily fall into. Especially with our CSA produce season upon us. So many options for roasted veggies -- maybe even mushrooms. And one of my goals this summer is to make my own mozzarella cheese.

Have you found a healthier way to eat more of something you love?

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Breakfast Rut

>> Monday, May 20, 2013

The word "rut" has such a negative connotation, doesn't it? Maybe I should use a different term. Basically: I've been eating the same thing for breakfast for the last five or so days. I feel like I've found a good groove -- because when I first started keeping my meal diary, I was being far too skimpy on this important meal.

Here she is!

  • Egg friend in coconut oil sprinkled with black pepper + paprika
  • Two slices of Ezekiel toast (7 sprouted grains) 
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries
  • 1/2 sliced avocado


You guys had some great suggestions to not get too hung up in the numbers counting when I track what I eat. Instead, paying attention to my macros is going to probably be the best thing for me to do. This meal looks pretty balanced to me. And coming in at 426 calories versus the 250 (a trap I fell into while looking too much at the calorie #), is much more sustaining.

So, I'll happily fall into this breakfast rut if it means I get the right mix of what will keep my satiated and energized with drippy goodness . . .

Do you have go-to meals like these? Any suggestions?

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Weekend Things

>> Friday, May 17, 2013

Not to rag on this weekend since it hasn't even happened yet, but I'm super excited for NEXT weekend. I love holiday cookouts, so tomorrow we'll be tuning up our charcoal grill and getting all the supplies we need for an outdoor feast of sorts.

In the meantime . . . 

// Down for the Count //
After posting about MyFitnessPal experience, I've struggled.
I think tracking what I eat is really helpful, but I'm getting too numbers-focused.
And then I eat things like delicious Justin candy bars versus healthy snacks.

// Sniffles + Sneezes //
Here's some good advice for how to deal with allergies on the run.
Personally, I do saline nose spray + homeopathic remedy + occasionally these eye drops.
I also make sure I shower off ASAP to get all the pollen.

// Dreams //
Wow this beautiful backyard movie night looks enchanting.
Hard to top that.

// Foot Finds //
I bought leopard crocs sandals this week. Is something wrong with me?
If I don't like them, I may send instead for these Reef sandals (good deal!).
Everyone keeps suggesting Rainbow sandals. Any experiences?

// Spring to Summer Eats //
Parmesan-Garlic Grilled Corn -- might make for Memorial Day.
Strawberry + Rhubarb Crumb Pie b/c I'm in the mood to bake a pie.

// Pretty (Cool) Playhouse //
I'd love to get Ada a playhouse for the backyard.
I've been scouring Craigslist and our local mom's yard sale group for a deal.
Been totally inspired by this project + this project. Stay tuned!

// Smart Stuff //
Building a straw bale shed + did you know I dream of living in a bale house?
Grilling sandwiches using your waffle maker via Edible Perspective.

// Homesteading //
Yard to Farm via Brooklyn Based
Realistically, I may plant a large backyard perennial garden, thanks to Aynsley for the inspiration!

And I have a simple recipe to add to my discussion about Mushrooms for Runners:

Just saute some garlic and sliced mushrooms in a pan for a few minutes (until softened and fragrant) and then lower the heat and add a few cups of baby spinach. Wilt and serve warm with whatever you're eating on a given night. Goes well with eggs . . . with sandwiches . . . whatever!

And here's what you may have missed this week on Writing Chapter Three:

Have a great weekend!

Psst: You can check out more Weekend Things here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here + here.

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!


Food for Runners: M-U-S-H-R-O-O-M-S

>> Thursday, May 16, 2013

It's been a while since we visited our Food for Runners series. Today I'm focusing on mushrooms solely because I've been eating a lot of them these days. At least from what I notice in my meal diaries. Man. I've been vegetarian for so long, eating a beefy grilled portabella, for example, is really like eating, well, beef!

I recently made a delicious mushroom + bean veggie burger (recipe below), which is where the photos in this post come from.

Psst: If you're catching up, we've covered tomatoes, almonds, pumpkin, cucumbers, bananas, eggs, garlic, quinoa, berries, peppers, and kale -- and included our favorite recipes from across the web.

"While full of protein, the star nutrients found in mushrooms are selenium, copper, zinc, vitamins B12 and B3." (Source)

"While meat, seafood, grains, and nuts have excellent levels of the mineral, mushrooms are the only produce that have high levels of it, so they are especially important to include in your diet if you are vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free." (Source)

"A study by the American Society for Nutrition found that white button mushrooms may promote immune function by increasing the production of antiviral and other proteins that are released by cells while they are trying to protect and repair the body’s tissues." (Source)

Here are some of our favorite recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner:

Lynn's Rustic Wild Mushroom Tart
Mark & Reese's Spinach + Mushroom Omelette
Our Portabellas with Peanut Sauce
Scott Jurek's Lentil Mushroom Burgers
Kim's Crimini Mushroom Risotto
Our Stuffed Portabellas
Jolinda's Mushroom + Bean Burgers (from the photos in this post)
Justin's Cream of Mushroom Soup
Soma's Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms w/ Goat Cheese
Our Open-Faced Portabella Sandwiches
Jennifer's Crispy Old Bay Mushrooms w/ Sriracha Mayo
Maria & Josh's Kale, Mushroom, and Ricotta Calzones

I probably roast a couple of portabellas each week. The best method I've found is to preheat my oven to 400 degrees F. Scrub the mushrooms very well + then take a spoon and scoop out the ruffled underbelly and stem. I suppose this part isn't necessary if you want them chopped up, but I usually roast them whole.

Then place on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place in the oven for 10 minutes // FLIP over // then roast another 10-15 minutes.

What's your favorite way to use mushrooms?

Don't forget to read up on these other healthy ingredients:

Food for Runners: T-O-M-A-T-O-E-S
Food for Runners: A-L-M-O-N-D-S
Food for Runners: P-U-M-P-K-I-N
Food for Runners: C-U-C-U-M-B-E-R-S
Food for Runners: E-G-G-S
Food for Runners: B-E-R-R-I-E-S
Food for Runners: B-A-N-A-N-A-S
Food for Runners: G-A-R-L-I-C
Food for Runners: Q-U-I-N-O-A
Food for Runners: K-A-L-E
Food for Runners: P-E-P-P-E-R-S

Like what you just read? Browse more of our posts + recipes on Pinterest. You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!


The Meal Diaries

>> Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wow it's taken me a long time to discover MyFitnessPal. You guys have mentioned it from time to time + my mother-in-law uses it everyday. So, I decided to make an account last week. I'm not really on a diet, but I could definitely focus on what I'm eating better. I'm sure you can tell I go through periods of caring a TON about what I eat and then abruptly dropping it.

I think that's only normal, no?

I'm only a couple days in, but for those of you who are interested -- I feel like I'm learning a lot from using this thing! I've even downloaded the (free) app onto our iPad. I feel like this is starting to sound like an advertisement, but -- nope -- I'm just learning the ropes and pretty happy with what I'm discovering so far.

I don't love tallying up my calories, so I'm trying my best to just eat when I'm hungry and choose foods wisely (carrots/hummus versus Snickers bar). Looking at the things I eat -- right there on the screen -- certainly brings some glaring dietary mistakes to my attention.

It's making me, uh, accountable! Yes!

Like sugar. Oh, my struggles with sugar. I almost always reach my daily allotment before dinner even rolls around with all the fruit and juice and smoothies. Didn't really think of all those "healthy" snacks in that way -- but I should try to balance out with more veggies. Salt, too. I need to stop cooking with so much salt. And when I check out my percentages, I'm heavy on the carbs and fats end. They're surely convenient and tasty, and apparently that's how I roll.

I'm still carrying around an extra 5 pounds of weight after pregnancy. Or maybe by now I can't even blame pregnancy. Laziness with my diet. So, I'm hoping by logging my foods and being more aware of, say, spoonfuls of Nutella + their impact on staying steady or possibly getting back to where I was previously. Yeah. By logging this stuff, I'm hoping some of it will sort out on its own.

Which brings me to a question for those of you who use this, or a similar, method to help keep yourselves on track. If you're athletic, how do you determine your daily caloric requirements? I'm in this weird in-between stage. No longer nursing, I think my needs are less than they were a month or so ago. But with a new half marathon training cycle on the horizon, I want to make sure I'm fueling my workouts properly.

Food = energy = kick-ass speed sessions = new PRs. I guess that's where I get a little frustrated with MyFitnessPal. I don't really feel like I can adequately track my activity. It's good, but clunky + still has its limitations. So any tips on how to maximize the functionality in that regard would be really helpful.

And I guess the other beef I have with it is tracking success by using weight as the barometer. I've started doing a lot of kettlebells + squats. And I plan to delve into some more strength training soon. So, weight -- at least for me -- doesn't really seem like it will tell me much. I wish there were other goals you could choose. Maybe there are and I just haven't found them yet?

Do you keep a food diary? Or are you interested in starting one? I think it can be an excellent thing to try out for a while . . . and some people even benefit from doing it for, well, life. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Like what you just read? You can subscribe to the feed of these posts or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be the first to know what the (never home)makers are up to. And we’ll love you forever!


The Marathon Decision

>> Tuesday, May 14, 2013

After I crossed the finish line at the Bridge Half Marathon, a lot of thoughts ran through my mind. First: "Hell YES! A new PR!" but that was quickly overshadowed by: "Ouch. Why is my IT-band hurting after months of being completely fine?"

I spent the rest of the day frustrated, icing my knee on // off to get ahead of the inflammation. I stretched and rolled on some BioFreeze, too. Lots of you suggested massage via foam roller, which I do religiously, but never seems to help much.

Then I started to have flashbacks to 2010. The last time I dealt with this injury in acute-mode, except on my other leg. I took 11+ weeks off and had to resort to aqua jogging, rigorous physical therapy, and even cortisone therapy (not injection, but STILL!). Even when I felt "better" it was a long road back rife with walk breaks and all sorts of disappointing workouts.

When the pain continued into the next morning, I had pretty much decided that doing a cycle of marathon training -- even if I didn't get injured -- followed by a 26.2 race might be a recipe for disaster.

See me gritting my teeth here?

I guess for now I'm letting my marathon sticker expire.

I've reached a point in my running "career" where I'd rather be happy than hurting. If that means less aggressive or impressive goals, so be it. I'd rather not be the person constantly canceling out on training runs, making appointments to see specialists, or talking about the best KT taping methods.

And strangely enough, after I had clicked yes to submit my change of registration for Wineglass -- my IT band mysteriously got better. Coincidence is more likely than what I'm thinking was the whole pain-thing being some sort of divine sign. Still, I think half marathons are my sweet spot.

I haven't chosen a training plan, but I know the following worked for my last cycle.

  • 4 days/week running schedule instead of 5 or 6
  • Speedwork -- 800 repeats and mile repeats, mostly
  • Tempo workouts -- running at or faster than race pace
  • Strength training -- mostly kettlebells and squats
  • YOGA -- less for the athletic aspect, more for the stretching

Here's where I think I can improve:

  • More cross-training, I want one day in the pool/week, if possible
  • More variety -- definitely adding at-home spinning to the routine, maybe every other week
  • Longer tempo workouts -- increase from 5 to 8 being the longest
  • Longer long runs -- I'd like to do a couple 15-16 mile runs in the next cycle
  • More practice -- perhaps a test race is in order?
  • More watch runs -- I hate it, but running occasionally w/ a watch helped me get faster

I'm starting a training log on this site soon. Once I pick my half plan (which will likely be similar to the last go-around, just longer than 8 weeks), probably. As you can see, my goal is 1:40 (7:37/mile) . . . how realistic that is, I'm not sure. But I'm going to do my best to try.

So, more about training soon! And tomorrow I'll write about some diet plans. Well, not actually dieting, you know the drill. Also, some of you asked what I do between training cycles -- I could write about it, but in short -- I just do some unstructured running. Get my legs moving and think about what's next.

Are you chasing any big goals for an upcoming race? How do you tweak your training from event to event?

Pssst: For a review of the Brooks Pure Flow (that I'm wearing in the race photos), just visit this post. Again -- totally not sponsored -- they held up great for my race. Very light + comfortable.

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Crazy Layer Bars || Made Healthier

>> Monday, May 13, 2013

I've been meaning to try this for a long time . . .

These Pinterest-popular bars pop up on my feed every week. I don't even know where they originated. Obviously they are tempting, but I've tried taming my cravings because they're just . . . so . . . much . . . sweetness.

I'm not going to pretend I've made them healthy. But certainly making a few swaps here + there made them healthier. Baking a smaller batch (most recipes I found were for 9 x 13 pans), it's more in moderation. Or something. Bargaining, er, enabling is going on here maybe.

Anyway. Here's my Mother's Day treat:

You'll need . . .

Simply . . .

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a square baking dish (I believe mine is 8 x 8). Set aside.
  2. Prepare your cookie layer. I didn't have enough flour, so I tossed in some oats for good measure. Then pour it into the pan and flatten.
  3. Lay a layer of Oreos or Newman O's (they have at least one vegan option, I believe, if you're looking for that -- I have also read that Oreos are vegan strangely enough) cookies atop the cookie layer.
  4. Then mix together the brownie mix + pour it on top. Follow the instructions on the box, but it's just a bit of olive oil and water that's needed there. Alternatively, you can make your own brownie, maybe my Favorite Vegan Brownies. Just make sure it's a small batch and consider alternative sweeteners if you'd like to cut down on the sugar.
  5. Then bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until mixture firms and corners start to look done. You want it to be a bit gooey, though, so be careful not to over-bake.
  6. Then cut into 16 squares and enjoy.

Again. Not necessarily healthy in any regard. But at least a 1/3 less sugar. Less butter + eggs, too. Plus, if you're vegan, you can use the substitutions above to make this recipe. And a smaller batch size helps with the moderation part.

So, that was a fun part of my not-so-fun weekend. But I won't get into it now. Tomorrow you can look for a fitness update, including info on my half marathon training plans for the fall + the new training log I'm going to add to this site. So many of you ask about my workouts, I thought I'd bring you along for the ride this time around!

Have you ever made a crazy recipe like this one healthier? I had a lot of fun. I'm sure they're "better" the old fashioned way, but honestly -- since I don't normally eat stuff like this, it was awesome even without pulling out all the stops!

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