Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January Goals Assessment

January Goals
Yikes, I let blogging fall by the wayside! January kind of got away from me, but I feel like I made decent progress on some of my goals this month! Less so on others. Let’s take stock of how I did on my “taking better care of things” project.

Home: “Pick everything the fuck up and start a weekly chore routine” were the notes I wrote for myself. I did a pretty good job at picking everything the fuck up. The apartment is in a much less disastrous state than it was in post-holidays--decorations and gifts are put away, boxes taken to the dumpster, etc. And I did go on a big deep-cleaning spree to ensure that I’m starting with a good base of cleanliness.

But as an UFYH follower, and generally a proponent of daily/lifestyle habits (as opposed to occasional, monumental efforts)--this type of “cleaning spree” behavior isn’t ideal for the long-run. So I’ve been working to get into a daily cleaning habit, doing one 20/10 per day (see link for explanation), plus a little extra on weekends. I’m not quite there yet with my consistency, so I think next month’s goal will focus on that.

Body: Getting back on track with workouts and eating. I did very well on the workouts and mostly decent on the eating. My eating is never quite where it probably should be, but I am getting my veggies in and not glutton-ing out on a daily basis. Workouts have been really good--I’m enjoying running high-for-me mileage and am loving yoga lately. 

Mind: I was supposed to address three nagging tasks this month (to improve my peace of mind). I tackled 1.5 out of the 3. I did not get my 401k rolled over (ugch) or all of my relationships caught up on (see below). But I did succeed at thank you notes!

Relationships: Did not excel at this. I did connect with my local friends and go out (and will see some of them again this weekend for the Superbowl!) but am still struggling to contact my far-away, from college friends. It is one of those bad cycles--the longer I let it go, the more antsy I get about contacting, which makes me want to let it languish longer. Not good. Goal in February will be to break that cycle.

Overall it was a decent start to the year. I need to focus more on making the goals specific and attainable--using the SMART goals method is probably a good idea for next month's list.

Two Weekly Workout Summaries
I want to capture these for posterity! Apologies if they are boring, especially in double, but I like summarizing them. Also I've been killing it re: my training plan, so I want public acknowledgment of that fact!

January 14 - 20:
Monday: 5 miles @ 11:10 (For the record, unless I note otherwise, all of my runs are outside).

Tuesday: 75 minute power vinyasa yoga class.

Wednesday: 4 miles total. Weird half-rainy night where I ended up doing 2.75 mi on the treadmill in 30ish min and then got off because someone was clearly waiting and I didn't want to be that terrible gym person. And then I did some strength hoping maybe another treadmill would open up, but no such luck. So I ran 1.25 miles outside around my apartment complex to bring up the total.

Thursday: Rest day

Friday: 75 minute power vinyasa yoga class. Going on a Friday was fun but often not convenient for my schedule. I do like going to two studio classes a week though! (Though my wallet obviously doesn' bad is it that it doesn't feel like "real" money because I already purchased the pass? Don't answer that.)

Saturday: 7.5 mi @ 11:21. This wasn't so bad. Gorgeous weather.

Sunday: 3 mi @ 10:27 and then I went to the apartment gym for some strength training. Kind of half-assed both of the strength training sessions this week, honestly. Yoga has been leaving me sore!

Total mileage: 19.5 miles.

January 21 - 27:
Monday: We had the day off for MLK day (and inauguration), so I took advantage and did a 5.3 mile tempo run! 3 middle miles at 10:29 pace.

Tuesday: Rest day. Much needed after three days of running.

Wednesday: 4 mi @ 11:18.

Thursday: 3 miles on the treadmill. I threw in 4 "400s" (.25 mile intervals) that increased from 5.8-6.1. Yes those speeds are fast for me.

Friday: Two 20 min Yoga Download podcasts. Enjoyable!

Saturday: 8 miles @ 11:24. Woohoo! New PDR. There was a lot of snow on the ground--that packed tricky type--so I had to be slow/careful running. I was pleased I still ended up with a decent pace.

Sunday: Rest day--I was traveling for a grad school thing, so working out wasn't a high priority.

Total mileage: 20.3 miles.

Today's Workout
Which brings us to this week! Which has been a bit weird since it has been a cutback week. For reference, a cutback week is something the running experts say to add every 4-5 weeks when you are building mileage. You drop your mileage down during that week to give your body a chance to heal and recover before you continue to build. I personally also like them from a mental standpoint--it gives you some time to rest and get a few things done that you normally wouldn't.

But. I definitely have been running better the more I'm running. So today's 4 miler, after not running since Saturday due to the travel and cutback week, felt painful. Honestly my legs felt worse for it than they did for the 8 miler. So I should remember to maintain the frequency of my runs (just not the length) during cutback weeks. Lessons!

Today's Eats
I feel like I've featured this meal a ton on the blog...probably because it is my favorite and I have been making it once every two weeks (and it produces two meals of leftovers). Potatoes + onions + kale + cheese + an egg (salt and butter are essential non-featured ingredients as well).

I can pretend it's healthy because it has kale.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Belated Weekend Wrap-Up and Hands of Fire

Weekend Wrap-Up
I wanted to post this last night, but was a bit incapacitated due to the Hands of Fire Incident of 2013 (we'll get to that in a bit).

This weekend ended up being busier than I expected, which was fine by me! Nice and social, mixed in with cough, mumblemumblethree grocery store visits. I don’t want to talk about it. But since grocery stores/shopping for food is pretty much my happy place, it was a good weekend!

On Friday night, Dan and I went for a pre-movie quick meal at Mosaic District. He hit up Chipotle, but I opted for Sweetgreen! I hadn’t been to the new Sweetgreen located near me yet, and I had forgot how much I liked it. I had their Chic P salad, which was quite tasty and filling. Too filling for movie snacks! Bummer. We saw Django--it was absolutely awesome. I liked it way more than I expected it to. It dealt with the tricky subject with appropriate gravitas/respect, but still kept it feeling like a fun revenge flick. Definitely go see it!

Why do my pictures have that grey line? Friends!
I met up with some girlfriends in the city on Saturday night. We had fun catching up over dinner and drinks. They are two of my closest friends but unfortunately live far enough away (Maryland!) that it’s tricky to see each other as often as we would like!

And then some terribly drunk man hit on us,
and we made faces like this.
Not amused, dude. Although a little amused.
Amused enough to take photos. 

And then Sunday was full of football (ughhhhh Patriots), grocery stores, and general laziness.

Weekly Workout Summary
I’m really enjoying my “training cycle” thus far [sidebar: I always feel the need to put anything that a “real” runner would say in quotation marks, as if because I’m slow/relatively new, running terms don’t apply to me. Well, that’s stupid. I’m going to try to stop doing that!]. Running four times a week seems to be helping my speed/endurance.

Monday: 3.5 miles @11:37. I hadn’t slept super well the night before and remember just feeling pooped/not wanting to run. I was proud I got out there anyway!

Tuesday: Tough 75 minute power vinyasa flow class. My upper body was sore for days after this.

Wednesday: 5.3 mile tempo run--middle 3 miles at 10:29 pace. This felt comfortably hard, like tempo runs should!

Thursday: 3 miles  @ 11:06, followed by a 20 minute yoga podcast. I’d typically do strength on Thursdays, but my arms were still beat from the yoga class. So I did more yoga, which counterintuitively made them feel a bit better!

Friday: REST.
Saturday: 7 miles @ 11:15. This wasn't too bad! A little boring because the "Wait Wait" podcast I had queued up was just re-airs from previous shows, but I made do.

Sunday: 40 minutes at-home yoga (2 20 minute yoga podcasts). I use the free 20 minute Yoga Download ones because I’m cheap. I like doing one faster paced power vinyasa flow followed by a stretchy flow (for this one I did Hip Opener #2).

Today’s Workout
More yoga, bam. 75 minute power vinyasa class. Either I'm seeing improvements or the new instructor went easier on us this week than she did last week.

Today’s Eats

Ahhh Hands of Fire 2013. Okay. So I tried to make this recipe for stuffed poblano peppers (discovered when featured on Rachel's blog), except substituting pre-cooked lentils for the ground beef (I'm a vegetarian).

This recipe obviously involves some poblano peppers, which are a fairly spicy but not crazy spicy pepper. And I've cooked with them before just fine. Same thing with jalepenos--obviously I don't touch my eyes, but as long as I wash my hands with soap it is usually fine.

Well apparently this batch had the most RIDICULOUS HELLFIRE CAPSAICIN known to mankind. My hand (that had seeded the peppers) was burning so ridiculously bad. To recap, here is what I tried (per the advice of the internet) and did NOT work to remove the pain: milk (provided temporary relief but went away after 30 seconds), soap + water, dish detergent + water, lemon juice, acne face wash with salicylic acid, rubbing my hand (briefly) with olive oil, and mayonnaise.

I was in so much pain that I finally just called Poison Control. They recommended two options: 1) rubbing alcohol, which, if it works, should take away the sting immediately. 2) Soaking the hand in oil (any would do, I used canola) for a prolonged period of time, upwards of the 30 minutes, occasionally massaging the oil into the affected area. Quite unfortunately, the rubbing alcohol did not provide the immediate relief. It seemed that capsaicin had really settled in. So I did the oil thing, which finally provided relief after 45 minutes. It was still in a bit of pain, but not pain in a needing to constantly run it under cold water way, so I was able to fall asleep. Today it was tingly but not in pain.


So anyway, the meal. It was decent. I think the pepper just hadn't cooked enough? Next time I would pre-cook the peppers for a bit. I'm sure the recipe is much better as it is intended to be made (meat!).

Out of season tomatoes blocking the view of the pepper.
Today's leftovers were WAY better than the first batch yesterday, since I re-heated it in the microwave, softening up the pepper. And I topped it with avocado instead of out of season tomato. Much better!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday (Sorry)

What I Ate Wednesday
No, I have absolutely no intention of regularly participating in this tired HLB tradition, but I thought it would way to check in for a month where I wanted to focus on resuming my pre-holiday good eating habits. I'll do another one as a further check-in later this month.

For the record, this was actually useful--I didn't realize how much my erratic/unplanned grocery trip affected my eats this week until I wrote this out. So next week, better grocery store planning!

Most weekdays I do oatmeal. I honestly resisted oatmeal as a breakfast for a while, partly because I thought it was a hassle to make in the AM and partly because certain bloggers drove me crazy with their waxing poetic about the stuff. So I stuck to toast + PB + fruit, but often ended up hungry before lunchtime and having a snack. Same if I actually took the time to do eggs--I know everyone says have protein in the morning, but eggs just kind of leave my tummy upset for a bit, and then feeling empty. 

I spent a few days tracking calories this fall (as a check-in once my running started to pick up) and realized that my morning breakfast + necessary mid-morning snack was adding up to a lot of calories for not a lot of satiety. 
So then I tried oatmeal. I found Anne’s recipe for real, rolled-oats oatmeal in the microwave to be game-changing! I typically just dump the ingredients (1/2 cup rolled oats, ½ cup milk, one banana, and some ground flax seed) in a microwaveable container in the morning. Then I top it with a bit more water when I get to work (since the oats absorb some of the milk) and pop it in the microwave for 3 minutes, and it is ready to eat at my desk while I catch up on things! I typically top it with peanut butter (from a jar I keep at the office) and berries, if they are on sale/grown in the US, and if not, jam. 

Buuuut I failed to realize the rolled oats were running low, and we ran out yesterday. So today was a packet of instant oatmeal (maple walnut something or other) with banana and PB.

This is a pretty standard lunch. Salad with protein + some sort of carb-y thing on the side. In particular, this is a salad with edamame and walnuts (I’m running low on fun salad toppings) and with the Newman’s Own Lite Balsamic that I love. Plus a serving of Triscuits thin crisps and a serving of 4% cottage cheese (mmm).
Then I ended it with a random piece of chocolate from work. This “dessert after every meal!” is a behavior that re-emerged over the holidays and I would like to work to eradicate. Today was not that day. 

Afternoon snack:
Yogurt + strawberries. Specifically, my current favorite yogurt, the Chobani kids’ yogurt with chocolate chips in it (ADULTS LIKE CHOCOLATE CHIPS TOO). I’d totally be better off with not super sweetened yogurt. I’m aware of this. Baby steps.

Then I had half of a Clif Mojo bar close to when I left for work because I was feeling a little peckish and needed to run before I would eat dinner.

This week has been a bit of a fail on the dinner front. I usually try to make one "nicer" meal per week (that takes a bit more time) and ride out the leftovers for a few nights. That, plus eating with Dan one or two nights, plus eggs on another typically takes me through the week.

But I didn't actually plan for any meal rendering leftovers this week, so I've been digging into the freezer a bit. Tonight I unearthed some Trader Jose green chile and cheese tamales. These were awesome, of course, but what isn't good that features melty cheese as a primary component.

I had another salad on the side. Not ideal, but we didn't have any other easy prep-veggies (another grocery mistake) so this sufficed.

Right now those tamales are sitting fairly heavy in my stomach, so I'll probably skip the small dessert I usually have--typically a piece of chocolate or two.

Food "Rules"
For me, normal eating means following a few general "rules" (more accurately, rules of thumb) but not counting calories. I’ve counted calories in the past and had a lot of success with it. That absolutely is the recipe for losing weight--calories in vs. calories out. But it isn’t right for me right now.

While in general I have about 10 or so pounds I’d like to lose, I know for my own sanity/lifestyle that placing an emphasis on running for health/fitness vs. running for calorie burn is the way to go. Same thing for food--food for fuel and tastiness, not for weight loss. I’m just happier if I live this way, and ultimately, my scale still is doing a natural downward trend since I started running, albeit much slower than if I were counting calories. But I’m okay with that (most days).

Here are my general, so simple you'll roll your eyes rules of thumb that I try to follow for eating:
  • A fruit or veggie at every meal. Typically this means fruit for breakfast and snacks and veggies at lunch and dinner. I try to make them different fruits or veggies for varied nutrients.
  • One treat a day--aka beer OR dessert. I love good beer, chocolate, ice cream, etc. In my ideal world, they would be full of nutrition and no calories. But they aren’t, and if I go crazy on them, I will weigh more/feel unhealthy (see: my pre-running life). This is driven by some combination of vanity and a desire to be healthy. So I try to stick to one treat per evening [nice dinners out (2x/month?) excepted].
  • The food will be there tomorrow. Perhaps counterintuitively, keeping sweets in the house has really helped me not overeat them. I know they’ll be there tomorrow--and that I’ll allow myself to eat them tomorrow too--so there’s no need to go crazy today.
  • No big bags of trail mix at my desk. The Trail Mix Incident of 2012 demonstrated that trail mix is still my “healthy except I eat so much of it that it certainly isn’t anymore” food. So I don’t keep it at my desk. Or lots of treats in general, for that matter. I try to limit myself to the one “real” treat a day, and I almost always prefer to have that treat be at night. So I bring in whatever I’m planning on eating (trail mix, granola bars, etc.) for the day or couple of days, but don’t stock too much at my desk. This is the exact opposite of the above rule, yes. But mindless eating and stress eating are huge problems for me at work (and not so much at home). No food to stress eat = no stress eating.

I'll check in later in the month to see how I'm doing on getting back to normal for eating habits! I definitely need to go into the grocery store with a plan next week.

Today's Workout
5.3 mile tempo run. Longest post-work distance to date! I did 3 miles at a 10:29 pace, which felt comfortably hard.

The hardest part was actually my ARMS. I went to a killer yoga class last favorite instructor is gone! Judgment on the new instructor to be rendered after a few more classes--but it was definitely a tougher, more athletic style. "Power vinyasa" (Baron Baptiste-originated) vs. just vinyasa. Sooo many chaturangas. My arms are screaming today and it felt challenging to hold them up while running. So then I tried running with my arms down like an idiot. Cool moves, Holly!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Fun Staycation

This Weekend
I'm writing this on commercials as I dorkily cry along to Biggest Loser, so it'll be quick! I've made good progress on implementing some of my January goals so far this month--I'll do a check-in later this week.

Dan and I had a great weekend. On Saturday, we got the opportunity to stay overnight at a hotel in DC and go to one of our favorite restaurants! Long-ish story, but my mom ended up gifting Dan and I with a hotel night and gift certificate to Graffiato for Christmas, which was super nice and generous!

The hotel was in Woodley Park (near where I used to live when I lived in DC!), so we went to one of my old brunch favorites to start our Saturday--Open City. I had some super delicious post-run eggs, toast, and hash browns (my favorite!), plus a pancake.

After brunch, we walked over to the zoo. We didn't stay too long, but we saw several cute animals--highlights were the pandas and elephants.

Adorable panda eats adorably. 
The pandas cracked me up for some reason. They were moving so...humanly? I kept saying they reminded me of a person dressed in a panda suit.

Adorable man with adorable panda!

That night was the real star of the show--Graffiato! I failed at taking any pictures of the food. I highly recommend the burrata salad and cauliflower, and Dan recommends the pepperoni dip and pizza (he had the Porky's Revenge).

Nice view across the table!
I had their version of a pisco sour--tasty but rich. 
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and enjoyed the luxurious room and comfy beds. This morning we had a delicious brunch at the hotel and headed back to VA. Overall it was just a great mini "staycation"--great note to end the holiday season on! Thanks Mom!

Weekly Workout Summary
Monday: pre-NYE run--4 mi @ 10:57.

Tuesday: 4 mi tempo run with lots of geese. This felt doable!

Wednesday: 35 min yoga. I used one 20 minute power yoga/vinyasa style podcast from, and then did a few videos for more stretching style/hip openers.

Thursday: 3.3 mi @ 11:11 outside, and then I circled back to the apartment gym for a quick and dirty strength routine. I don't remember all of the exercises, but it covered most of the major muscle groups and included lunges, planks, lat pull downs, push ups, etc.

Friday: REST.

Saturday: 6.2 mi @ 11:20. This felt tough while I was doing it, but I stayed strong mentally and pushed through a bunch of hills. I'm still kind of wondering how the heck I'm going to do 10 miles in April...but plenty of time to build!

Sunday: Another quick yoga at-home session--35 minutes again, similar split to Wednesday. I actually have been enjoying these at home yoga sessions and plan to incorporate them into my routine. But it will feel good to get back to the studio on Tuesday!

Total weekly mileage: 17.5 miles.
Overall I was really pleased with this week! Felt great to jump back into more frequent running--honestly, I think the more I run the easier it feels (within limits, I'm sure). On to the next!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve
Dan and I had a great night in for NYE! I can go either way on the going out for New Year’s--I’ve had some fun times with friends but often find the whole ordeal to be a hassle. Our NYE was my kind of night--tasty food, good movie, and good (and cheap!) prosecco. We decided to do a “tasting plate” style dinner--here’s my plate (x2!):

Cheese is amazing.

Dan opted not to do the brie (bottom white blob) and got prosciutto instead. We watched Ted, which was pretty cute/funny. Definitely one that’s worthwhile to rent (and one that I don’t feel I missed out on not seeing in theaters).

Taking Better Care of Things - January
As described in my last post, in lieu of year-long resolutions, I’m going to focus on monthly goals that center on the so-eloquent theme of “taking better care of things.” I’ve decided on my goals for January:

Home: Pick everything the fuck up and reinstate a weekly chore routine.
Body: Recommit to my exercise schedule and eating habits.
Mind: Tackle 3 nagging tasks - thank you notes, friend contacts, 401k rollover (from my last job!)
Relationships: combo-ing with the above - send emails to friends that I have been neglecting.

I’ll go into more details soon!

Today’s Workout
I had signed up for a yoga seminar today since my regular Tuesday yoga class was canceled, but I ended up bailing at the last minute (though they gave me the credit back). It was for 2 hours and with new-to-me instructors. I just wasn’t feeling it and am glad I bailed.

I ended up having a great run instead - 4 miles tempo (2 miles at 10:23 pace). 

I regularly run around/on the track of a local high school. I've noticed since Christmas that there has been a severe uptick in the amount of goose poop on the sidewalks. Careful running required! Today I finally saw the culprits:
Geese are scary.
They were engaged in some sort of mass exodus from the grass in the direction of the sidewalks. Perhaps it was pooping time?

I finished up my workout by stopping at the apartment gym (oh hello, January Joiners!) to do some upper body and core strength training.

And then I came home and did a thorough bathroom cleaning--which it desperately needed--but that ended up feeling like an arms workout itself. So I anticipate some jello-like arms tomorrow!

Today’s Eats
This morning I made pancakes for us as a day-off treat.
If there's some sort of "worst photo of pancakes ever" competition
that exists, please feel free to submit this.
They had chocolate chips + bananas in them, though I kept mine light on the bananas. I used the Trader Joe’s multigrain baking mix for the first time and would definitely recommend it.