Sunday, September 30, 2012

What's For Dinner?

I'm joining in on the weekly challenge hosted by Mommy Run Fast and Fitness, Health, and Happiness to post our dinner menu for the week.  The purpose behind it is to help in planning to put together healthy meals for our family and to help with being more budget friendly.

Care to join in on the challenge?  Even if you are not a blogger, there are tons of benefits to prepping your meals on Sunday for the week.

So, what are we eating this week?

Breakfast for me will be either be my granola over greek yogurt or an egg omelet.  I tend to bounce between the two and both are incredibly easy.

Lunch is going to be Greek Quinoa.  I made a huge batch today.  Yum!  It's incredibly filling and delicious.  For snacks each day I'll bring with me some apples, sliced veggies with hummus or strawberries and cottage cheese.  I have all ready to go, I just need to grab something on the way out the door.

Dinner is trickier.  I have some picky picky eaters and I'd rather not make too many different meals and I'm really just done fighting/bribing.

Everything is going to be homemade, except for the pizza crust.  I buy frozen Portland Pie Co dough balls at the grocery store.  I am in love with their beer dough.

What's on your menu this week?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

October is Racing Month?

Apparently in my world it is.  I haven't run a race since the 4th of July 10k.  I wanted to focus on MDI and not have to switch up long runs on the weekends due to races.    Believe me, there were plenty of races I wanted to do, but I held strong.

But now that MDI is in my sights, a little over 2 weeks now (deep breaths), I am starting to feel that it's okay to do other races again.  I'm thinking I must be making up for lost time because here is my October racing schedule.  YES, I AM CRAZY!

October 8th - Tufts 10K (compliments of FitFluential and Reebok)
October 14th - MDI Marathon
October 21st - Bond Brook TreadFest - 5 miler

Am I crazy for signing up for the Tufts 10k?  Why yes, I am.  I know it.  But after consulting my running gurus (Ward and Wade), I will use this race as my last speed work before MDI.  I'll be in taper mode madness anyway - so why not?  Plus it's an incredible chance to meet some of my New England FitFluential peeps.  I'm really hoping that my running goddess is there am maybe I'll have the courage to introduce myself to her.

Then, even crazier, I am going to do the Bond Brook TreadFest.  Ward is going to do this race and has worked with the director to have a teams division.  I wasn't planning on running this race at all.  Actually, I was going to volunteer, but he wants the teams division to be a success, so I put together a team.  I promise you, this is going to be a slow run for me.  I may end up crawling through the woods, but at least I'll be part of a team of lovely ladies.  

check out the guy in the middle - that would be my husband

Now that I have three races in a row, I need to update my playlist.  I was at a loss for songs, but then it came to me.  I work in a high school.   So I asked some of the girls in my advisor group and they came up with a list of songs for me.  Now I need to get working on adding the songs to my playlist.

Although, while I'm typing this, I just remembered that music/earbuds is not allowed for the Bond Brook race. Safety issues.  I get that.  No biggie.  I'll use my new playlist for the first two races.

What's your race schedule like?  Who do you turn to for playlist updates?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Instead Soft Cup Review

Okay guys - stop reading now.  Really, stop!

I was recently provided with a box of Instead SoftCup to review.  I was a bit apprehensive about this in the first place because I had no idea what they even looked like or how to use them.  I had heard of them before, but really hadn’t taken the time to look at the box and study them.  I usually don’t spend a lot of time in the feminine hygiene isle.  I just grab what I like and go.  

First things first, I’d like to characterize my flow as just weird.  The first two days are gushers and then it tapers off to a light trace which can last for up to 7 days.  Sometimes 4 days, but not always.  I know.  TMI but for you understand where I’m coming from in this review, you should know a little bit about me.  (perhaps I just shared too much and for that I’m sorry!)  

Basically, the Instead SoftCup is a cup that you insert into your vagina and it cups your cervix.   Here are the instructions from the site.   

I was concerned about the invasiveness and to me, it’s no more invasive than the tampon is.  Perhaps it’s a bit less invasive.  That’s just my opinion.  

The box does suggest to wear a panty liner with it until you become better at inserting the Instead SoftCup.  I must say I’d agree.  I did experience a bit of leakage but then again, my first two days I usually wear a Super Sport tampon AND a pad and then I change the tampon every 2 to 3 hours.  Yes.  It’s THAT heavy.   

I did try out the Instead SoftCup during one of my heavy days and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  On one of those gusher days, I can easily go through 5 or more tampons and several pads.  That day, I went through 2 Instead SoftCups and 1 pad.  Not so bad.    

Now, in terms of fitness, how do I feel about the Instead SoftCup?  I’ve worn it for several runs, heavy and light flow days AND I’ve gone swimming.  Instead SoftCup has passed with flying colors - meaning, no cramping, weird feelings, or leakage.  Is this goodbye to my supply of pads and tampons?  

Are you interested?  I've seen Instead Softcup at my local RiteAid, and if it's available at a pharmacy in my town, I'm sure it's available just about anywhere.  To find a store that sells Softcup, just go here to search or buy it online here.  You can even check out Softcup on facebook or twitter for any specials.  

Disclaimer:  I was sent the Instead SoftCup for the purpose of a review.    All opinions posted here are 100% my own and were not swayed by said compensation.  

Monday, September 24, 2012

Less than 3 Weeks!

Somehow the stars aligned and I had the best 20 mile training run I could ask for.  I'm not sure how it happened or why, but does it matter?  Not at this moment.

Going into the run I thought for sure it was going to be a horrible run.  I know, I shouldn't go into a long run like that with such a negative attitude.   I ate out for three days prior to the run and didn't make the healthiest choices.
Thursday night - Burger and fries at the A-1 Diner
Friday night - Burger fries and onion rings at Johnny Rockets.

The Berry & Nut salad, topped with turkey at the 1912 Cafe at LL Bean.  

Saturday -We were on our way to a wedding in Southern Maine, so lunch was at the 1912 cafe.  I tried my best to correct myself with this beautiful salad.  Then completely splurged on yummy wedding food - crab cakes, peanut sauce chicken, bruschetta, cheese, veggies, more cheese, cupcakes (3!), wine and beer.  
This was a gorgeous wedding for two lovely friends of ours & the cupcakes were to die for.
Well, all of the food was actually quite yummy.  

Being a little obsessed with running, I was having a little freak out (okay, big one) about the food I was eating.  Ward told me that I focus too much on what I eat and shouldn't be as concerned.  

Given my three day diet, I would have expected to have spent quite a bit of quality time in the woods.  I was even tempted to just bring the entire toilet paper roll.  Really I was.  However, I am proud to report that there was only 1 trip to the woods.  Not too bad.  I completed this 20 miler in 3 hr and 3 minutes - 9:09 pace!  This is a huge ego booster for sure.  

So, this leads me to  - is Ward right?  Do I focus too much on what I eat?  What do you think?  I hate it when he's right.  

Am I ready for MDI?  I sure as heck hope so!  Let's compare the elevations for my past two long runs.

Yesterday's 20 miler.  Not too challenging or hilly.   The end is a challenge for sure.  But 20 miles is still a challenge.  

Last weekend's 14 miler - hillier yes, but shorter.  There were some killer uphills on that course.  I did contemplate doing that look twice yesterday and cutting out a small section to make it 20 miles, but changed my mind wimped out.  

MDI - this is what I'll be running in less than 3 weeks.  The entire 26.2 miles.  I am going to trust my training and go with it.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

My Favorite Running Season Ever!

The past couple of weeks I have been blessed with gorgeous running weather and having the opportunity to get my weekday runs done in the afternoon & NOT at 4:30 am.  I don't know how that happened, but I am most appreciative.  I will run at the gym on the treadmill at 4:30 am, but only if I have to!

I really do have some pretty areas around my house.  I don't often go out here because there are some killer hills to take on before I get to the beautiful flat area, but since I'm training for MDI, I thought I should really not avoid the hills.  

I really was enjoying running on this dirt road last week, but quickly aborted the run when I noticed an unleashed Rottweiler in the middle of the road.  I don't know the dog and didn't really know the people on the road, so I thought it would be best to just turn around.  It did mean my run was longer than I wanted, but I'll always take a longer run.  

It only took about 50 attempts to get this partially okay running shadow.  

Here I am just freaking ecstatic that I've have such awesome running weather and some equally great runs lately!  Here's hoping that the weather and run are both incredible when I take on MDI in a few weeks!

And most of all, I've LOVED running with these two when I can.  Izzy actually had a melt down one day when she realized I had run without her earlier - which meant that I went out for another mile with both kids.  

Then there's these two boys - they've been troopers.  One day I didn't quite get in all of the mileage I wanted before the bus dropped them off, so I greeted them with a "hey guys, let's go for a run!"  They were both so happy to head out on a run with me.  

When is your favorite season to run in?  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My Story: Unapologetically Strong

My husband often says "who are you? You are definitely not the woman I married." That's right, the woman he married used to yell at him on hikes or runs telling him I couldn't breath and that I had asthma. Not that having asthma is a sign of weakness.  My point here is that I used my asthma as a excuse.  Making excuses is weak.  The woman he married would not have taken on 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, marathons, trail races and 10 mile races in the dead of winter in Maine.    

feeling strong here, but definitely not smelling good

My strong story started a little over 7 years ago.  Tucker was close to 18 months old and I hadn't lost the baby weight.  I was in a rather low point in my life and was making some unhealthy choices.  I needed to regain control in my life and be a healthier person.  If not for myself, for my family.

My sister-in-law had just joined a local gym and started losing weight and looking good.  Being envious of her progress, I joined the same gym and started out biking and using the elliptical.In addition, I started using the Weight Watchers point system. It took a little bit, but I soon started to see and feel the results, which made me want to work out even more.

Eventually I started running on the treadmill and soon I took to the streets.  I have stopped since.  At the  age of 35, I am at my fittest point in my life.  It is my desire to continue to challenge myself to continue on the fitness route and see where it takes me.

It wasn't the weight loss that necessarily makes me feel strong.  What makes me feel strong is that I put in the work and I'm seeing and feeling the results.  I feel more confident than ever - in my workouts, personal life, and in my professional life.

Becoming a fitter, healthier person has transformed me into a better person.   I am Unapologetically Strong for myself and my family.

These little people make my world complete (Ward does too)

Being Unapologetically Strong, doesn't mean I want to smell "strong".  I'd actually prefer to smell good in the process.   Degree Women® Clinical Protection with motionSENSE is STRONG but smells fresh and clean.  

That's my story. I'd love to hear your story.  If you would like to share your story, you have an opportunity to win a prize from the Degree Women®  Unapologetically Strong Facebook contest.  By sharing your own story of your own personal challenges, you will be entered for a chance to win giveaway from Degree Women® to help on their Unapologetically Strong journey.   One winner will also have the opportunity to win the grand prize of $5,000 to spend on achieving their goal.  

Erin Andrews, Sports Broadcaster, has teamed up with Degree Women in celebrating the Unapologetically Strong Woman.   Erin shares her Unapologetically Strong story in this video.    

Disclosure:  I participated in this campaign as a member of One2One Network, I received Degree Women® Clinical Protection with motionSENSE, and am eligible for a prize drawing. All opinions stated in the post are my own.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Marathons, Yoga, and Aurorae Synergy

One thing I've learned from marathon training is that I need to listen to my body.  If my body is pointing out aches and pains or tightness, I turn to yoga.  My journey with yoga started last summer when I was training for my first marathon.  I was contacted by Terry and Jenn from Yoga to Run to try out an introductory marathon/yoga program which provided participants with training plans incorporating yoga and running.  By making yoga part of my weekly routine, I quickly came to realize that my aches and pains with long runs, subsided quickly and I successfully completed marathon #1 injury free.  Terry and Jenn taught me many valuable poses that I still use today.  I am sad that I live too far away from Terry's new yoga company and cannot make her classes regularly; however, that doesn't stop me from practicing yoga.  While I prefer to attend a class, I have found that when my schedule doesn't allow for me to attend a class,  I can use one of the yoga DVDs, or use any of the online yoga sites for a class.  Even if I only have time to squeeze in 10 minutes of sun salutations and pigeon pose, I do feel noticeably better afterwards.  

Right now I’m nearing the end of training for marathon #2 and yoga has been a huge part of my training again.  This time around, I’ve been focusing more on hill training, as this year’s marathon course is on Mount Desert Island (note: incredibly hilly course).  With the increase in hill training, I’ve noticed an increase in tightness in my glutes.  Yoga has been a godsend  in stretching out those muscles.  

I don’t only practice yoga for it’s benefits with stretching out my poor tired-marathon-training muscles, I’ve also come appreciate and desire the need to practice yoga on some incredibly stressful days.  If you remember, I’ve just started teaching at a new school.  While I am very happy with this change, the transition has been rather stressful.  When I notice myself feeling agitated, I go to my closet and pull out my Aurorae Synergy mat and practice yoga.  

For the past month, I’ve been practicing yoga on my new Aurorae mat.  Aurorae Yoga was founded by Dennis Ingui, a cancer survivor since 2001.  Dennis found peace of mind while building up his body with yoga.  It is his goal to provide his customers with the highest quality yoga mat that are both longer and thicker than most of the mats on the market.  You can read more about Dennis and his journey here.  

I cannot believe the difference between this mat and my old, cheap, Target mat.  I seriously thought all yoga mats were the same.  This mat opened my eyes to the world of what a high quality mat is like and why I will never again buy a cheap mat.  

First of all, my old, raggedy purple mat from Target is falling apart.  It was embarrassing to be at a hot yoga class and have little bits of purple all over the floor and all over my legs and hands.   My old mat is also quite slippery.  I was constantly slipping around and needed to reposition myself.   

I feel quite certain that this will not happen with my Aurorae Synergy mat.   

Product Features:
  • the top surface is Aurorae slip free, microfiber towel
  • the bottom surface is made up of 5mm PER yoga mat
  • with the yoga mat bottom, there is no bunching up/moving of the towel surface
  • the mat is ultra thick for comfort and to protect your joints
  • 72” extra long mat
  • the mat comes odor free
  • lightweight and easy to carry
  • machine washable (do not put in dryer)
  • SGS tested, approved eco-friendly, and safe
  • free from phthalates, latex, and silicone

I also received Aurorae's Spa Organic Lavender Meditative Aromatherapy spray with my mat.  Lavender is one of my favorite smells and is an instant soother for me.  A spray or two from this bottle on my mat enhances my Aurorae yoga mat experience.   

Check out Aurorae on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+.

I wrote this review while participating in a BlogFriendlyPR campaign on behalf of Aurorae.  All opinions are my own and no compensation was received.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Quinoa - 5 Simple Recipes That Get Me Through the Week

Quinoa has been a favorite staple of mine. It is an incredible versatile food and is packed with a huge amount of nutrients.

Not only is it good for you and versatile, it’s incredibly easy to make. I usually make a few containers of it earlier in the week in the rice cooker and set them in the refrigerator until I’m ready to use it.

Quinoa has also replaced my pasta dish the night before a long run. It is incredibly gentle on my sensitive belly.

just waiting for me to use it

I’m going to share with you my favorite 5 Quinoa Recipes

Roasted Veggies over Quinoa
This is incredibly easy - just choose whatever veggies you enjoy or have on hand - roast them in the oven with a bit of olive oil or coconut oil and some salt then top over the quinoa. Most of the time I don’t even warm up the quinoa if I’ve had it refrigerated because the head from the roasted veggies will warm it up for sure. Sometimes I’ll get fancy and add some broiled haddock or tilapia to it, but most of the time I just love a huge helping of veggies over my quinoa. Sometimes I add nutritional yeast on top.

Southwest Quinoa Salad
I enjoy making this on a Sunday and then filling up several containers of it for my school lunch. Again, it’s packed full of great food and it’s filling.
2 cups of quinoa
handful of cilantro finely chopped up
1 container of halved grape tomatoes
1 avocado, diced up
1 can of sweet corn or 1 or 2 ears of corn on the cobb (obviously cut off)
1 can of drained/rinsed black beans or 1 bag of thawed edamame (right now I’m enjoying my own garden grown edamame)
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs red wine vinegar
a few drops of hot sauce

Mix all of the ingredients together, split into 5 containers and lunch for the week is done!

Greek Quinoa
Another easy lunch, salad favorite of mine. Again I like to make a bunch of this on a Sunday, separate it into 5 containers and my lunch for the week is done.

2 cups quinoa
1 container of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 of a jar of kalamata olives, diced or whole - either works
1/2 container of feta cheese
1 diced cucumber
1 tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Caprese Quinoa
2 Cups Quinoa
Grape/Cherry tomatoes
Mozzarella balls
Fresh basil leaves, torn
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Lemon Pesto Quinoa
make your own pesto
My favorite homemade pesto has been:
a few handfuls of fresh basil
olive oil
2 tbs lemon juice
2 garlic cloves
sunflower seeds

put all the above ingredients in the food processor and process away

Then top it over some of your favorite veggies, cheese and quinoa. Oh yum!

*Sometimes I add parmesan cheese to the pesto and sometimes I omit (forget). I like it both ways. If I’m craving the salty flavor that parmesan cheese adds, then I just add a bit of salt to it.

Are you are fan of quinoa?  Share your favorite recipes or you link here!  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Garden Love: Edamame

I may be a bit obsessed with this little green bean.  Although, I really enjoy getting the pre-shelled edamame at Trader Joe's.  However, our closest Trader Joe's is 45+ minutes away, so the next best thing (for me anyway) is to grow it in the garden. Personally, I think it tastes better knowing that I took part in the planting and growing of this fabulously delicious bean.

Here's my row of edamame - ready for picking!

Preparing Edamame is time consuming, but it is really quite simple.  Just pick it, boil it, shell it, and eat it.  

I usually just pull up the entire plant - root and all.  The root is going to come out soon enough anyway.  Right?    Just remember, if you choose to just pull it out by the roots- it's probably best to NOT pick the pods off in your house.  That's just asking for a mess.  

Today Izzy and I were smarter and chose to do the pod picking on the deck.  

Picking the pods alone is quite boring.  I do suggest finding a picking partner.  It's really easy - even a 3 yr old can do it!  

Next step is to add some salt to some water and boil it on the stove.  Once the water starts to boil - put the pods in there.  You only need to boil them for a few minutes.  Then I drain them and run some cold water over them to cool them off and stop the cooking process.  That way I can start popping the pods open and eating them I mean putting them in a bowl.

Before you know it, you have a nice bowl full of edamame.


Haven't tried edamame?  I think you need to.  Check out what this healthy little bean provides you with:

If you are a fan of edamame - what are your favorite ways to eat it?  I prefer to snack on it.  Sometimes I'll add it into a quinoa salad, but most of the time I prefer it alone.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Getting Organized Once Again

For me, summer is a time to let go, relax, let the house get messy, and have tons of fun with the family. That's a very easy routine to slide into once school's over.  

The hard part, for me anyway, is adding structure back into my life when school starts up again.  One thing I struggle with is meal planning and making meals.  

I have found that by spending a few hours on the weekend making a menu, shopping, and prepping meals - the week's meals seem to be a bit easier to manage.  I'm not saying I always stay on track and follow my plan.  Sometimes I just say screw it and we head off to Subway or A-1 Diner or we eat cereal.  

I found this dry erase sticker at Staples a few week back - it's fabulous!  It's really helping me to stay on track for the week.  

Sometimes I write "future" menu ideas in the corner - so I can remember them for the next week.  If I don't write it down, I am sure to forget!  

Another thing I like to do is to thaw out one of my meat birds (remember we raised 25 this summer!) - and then put it in the crock pot for a few hours.  This opens up the dinner possibilities for the week - chicken and rice, chicken sandwiches, bbq chicken, tacos, chili........ I could go on and on.   And I know that my family is eating something healthy.  

I also really enjoy putting together my lunches for the week on Sunday - that way all I have to do is grab and go in the morning.  Thankfully Tucker likes to eat school lunches (which really are pretty good at his school) - so I don't have that prep to do!

Actually, I've started doing that with my breakfasts too!  

It's so easy, good for me, and delicious.  Who can argue with that?  Not me!  

What helpful hints do you have to get you through the week with meals?  

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Who Needs Energy? I DO! {ENERGYbits Review}

I'm a mom, a wife, teacher, and I have a garden & chickens.  Sometimes I think about all the happenings in my life and I get exhausted thinking about what needs to be done.

This is just a glimmer of what a day in my life looks like:

courtesy of Word It Out

With a day like that - energy is vital.  I try to eat healthy most of the time, but that's not always enough.  Most of the time I turn to supplements for help.  Not all of them do the job - but this one sure did.

 Introducing: ENERGYbits.

Have you ever heard of it?  I hadn't before I was sent a sample for a review.  

Now I cannot get enough of it!  Check it out for yourself.  


The only bad part is that I needed to hide them because this guy kept taking them.  I think he needs to get his own.  

I love you, Ward.   But stay away from my ENERGYbits!

I have had two very successful long runs with ENERGYbits.  Not my most recent ones - maybe because I am out of ENERGYbits and need to replenish.  One 10 miler and one 22 miler (with Carrie). During those runs I felt unbeatable and that I could run forever.  Well, maybe not forever, but I definitely felt like I had "gas in the tank" afterwards.  

Yes, I felt pretty gosh darn good.  But why?  How can a green algae pill make me feel so good?   So, then I turned to the ENERGYbits page - About Spirulina.  You should definitely read about it here.  These little green pills are so powerful and incredibly good for you!

Check out ENERGYbits on facebook and follow them on twitter.   I'm glad I did.  

Disclaimer: I was sent Energy Bits to try and review. My opinion is my own and not influenced in any way. I was not compensated for this post.