Posts tagged ‘Fitness Friday’

Fitness Friday: Plant-based Whole Foods Diet

I’ve gradually changed my eating habits over the last 6 months. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a long-time vegetarian who occasionally eats fish. As long as I can remember, I have had no taste for meat. In 2000 I stopped eating it outright.

Too much ice cream or cheesy pizza never agreed with me (except my taste buds).

This past year, I noticed how much better I’ve felt when I don’t eat milk products at all.

I’ve also started incorporating tons more vegetables and leafy greens into my diet.

With much education and reading, I would say that I’m now a mostly-plant-based whole foods eater (the mostly being home-made cookies and other delicious baked treats).

Here are some things I’ve learned over the last few months:

  1. I can maintain my energy level on much less food. I do have to monitor calories on long run days because otherwise the next day I will be ravenous!!!!
  2. Milk products are out for me for the long haul. I have eliminated even hidden dairy and it made a huge difference. It’s not life-altering in the short-term, so if someone offers me something and can’t guarantee there are no whey ingredients, I won’t immediately turn it down, but I am so aware now.
  3. I love coffee and it does not make that much of a difference to me so it is worth it.
  4. I love wilted kale salad with sesame seeds and a sesame oil, cider vinegar dressing.
  5. All plant foods in their whole form are made up of 10% protein.
  6. Sunwarrior protein is my favourite protein boost.

Here is a great resource for plant-based whole food recipes or education programs on this type of eating. Here is a great resource for fueling your training on a plant-based diet.

Though I do like animals and I personally do not like the idea of eating them, I am not a veg for ethical reasons. I don’t identify with the dogmatic vegan (read PETA) movement that often eats just as many processed foods as any other typical eater.

This is really about my personal decision to improve my well-being.

My family still eats meat and dairy, but hopefully more fruits and vegetables as a result of my influence. We don’t eat the same food but we eat together. I have read that kids eat what they know. Hopefully having seen, smelled and (sometimes) tasted almost every vegetable variety in the produce aisle will mean that at some point, they will know them too.

This Week’s Running Rundown

Everything is posted in km. For those of you who only do miles, 1 km = .625 mile OR 1 mile = 1.6 km

Saturday – 17 km run – part with group and part on my own

Monday –8 km fun run on the treadmill

Tuesday – 10 km tempo run on the treadmill in the evening; might not have run if I didn’t have the gym membership

Thursday – 12 km run

Cross Training 

Wednesday: Hips focused vinyasa yoga

I’ve got 5 classes left in my yoga class package and 9 days till I leave the country for 6 months. That’s a lot of yoga to fit in.

I hear my family coming in from soccer practice. It is loud and there is whining.

Enjoy the last weekend before Christmas/Hannukah!


December 17, 2011 at 12:21 am 10 comments

Fitness Friday: A Big Finish

I bet you think I haven’t been exercising since I haven’t been writing my Fitness Friday posts. Well you would be… WRONG.

While I have not been doing a whole lot of strength training, I have been running a lot (loving it) and working in yoga and/or what I would call “strength maintenance” here and there.

I don’t know what it is, but I have really fallen in love with running. I find it relaxing, rejuvenating and exhilarating. There was a few weeks after the Army Run where I didn’t feel like doing speed work so I just did three or four longer fun runs of 12-17k throughout the week.

I’m now back to enjoying a proper training schedule on a four-week rotation. Each week includes a fun (easy) run, and a longer run. Three of the four weeks include a speed workout (with a 10-14k fun run instead on the off week) and two-three of the four weeks include a tempo run of between 5 and 10k (plus a 3 k warm-up and 3 k cool-down).

I have to thank the fabulous Sherry Carson from the Elation Centre for providing the training program to get me through the winter in Costa Rica, so I’m back in June ready to hit the National Capital’s paths training for my fall 2012 MARATHON!

I haven’t picked which one yet, but I’m leaning towards either the Toronto Harbourfront Marathon, the Niagara Falls International Marathon or the Wineglass Marathon. I am looking for flat and fast – yeah, let me emphasize FLAT. I’ll be in my fortieth year after all… I’m hoping to beat my 27-year-old self by 10 full minutes (see the time to beat here).

Anyone want to join me?

This Week’s Running Rundown

Everything is posted in km. For those of you who only do miles, 1 km = .625 mile OR 1 mile = 1.6 km

Saturday – 17 km run – part with group and part on my own

Monday – 6.5 km fun run

Tuesday – 11.5 km speed run 3 km warm-up; 3 x 1 min fast with equal rest; 3 x 5 min fast with 4 min rest; 3 x 1 min fast with equal rest; cool-down

Friday – 5 km tempo at 5:07/km pace with 3 km warm-up and 2 km cool-down

Cross Training 

Tuesday: Yoga

Thursday: Core Workout

So, I’m gonna keep up the running through December’s craziness and this will hopefully keep me less than crazy. My goal is to complete 4-5 runs and 2 yoga/core conditioning classes or strength workouts throughout the week.

Got any December fitness goals?

December 2, 2011 at 8:50 am 4 comments

Fitness Friday: Aborted Plans

No… we have not aborted the move plans.

I was scheduled, well at least signed up to run the Rattle Me Bones 10k run this coming Sunday. It starts at 8:55 am.

I am scheduled to host my son’s birthday to which the guests have been invited for 11:30 am at local bowling lanes.

That gives me 155 minutes to get from the race start to greeting Lil D’s guests.

Somehow, I expected to:

  • Run my 10k (48-49 minutes)
  • Get to the car (10 minutes)
  • Get home (20 minute drive)
  • Shower and make myself host-worthy (30 minutes)
  • Drive to bowling place (15-20 minute drive after Derek and I get the two kids into the car more like 25-30 minutes)
  • Arrive early enough to greet punctual guests (10 minutes before party-time)

That plan would work if the race starts exactly on time; Derek does all the leg work in getting the boys ready and fed in the morning (as he would say “manageable”, but not necessarily fun); the  boys don’t have any last-minute pit stops or crises; I can tolerate a heightened anxiety level all morning (might make me run faster?); I leave the house with wet hair; I don’t eat post-race.

It’s not gonna happen. At least the race is a charity-organized one so I know the money is going to support the Ottawa Hospital.

This week my running was pre-10k race prep:

Running Rundown

Everything is posted in km. For those of you who only do miles, 1 km = .625 mile OR 1 mile = 1.6 km

Saturday – 11 km run – no alarm and we slept through the start of my group run, so I out I went with my audio book (4-Hour Work Week, T. Ferriss – so much of what he writes is how we live right now; book is helping us to fine-tune our strategies)

Monday – 5 km recovery run

Wednesday – 5 km easy run

Thursday – 5 km – 1 km warm-up; 2 x 800m @4:30; 800m rest; cool-down

I was fast (for me) yesterday, having to  slow myself down on those 800s. I wish I was running on Sunday, but it will have to wait. Maybe the Cookie Run on Sat Nov 5th? Not my fav organization to support (nothing wrong with them, just not my thing) but I do like COOKIES (not really those kind of cookies… but there is “cookie” in the name of the run, so that’s good enough for me.

Plus, they have a 1.5k run for Lil D; he’s been looking forward to a race and has been asking to do a longer one than 1k.

I’ve got a hectic and fun weekend ahead: There’s Lil D’s party and all the usual kid sports PLUS I’m meeting my four month-old niece for the first time tomorrow!

Lil C is looking forward to giving her a pink Spartacat toy. It’s nice to finally have a girl baby in the family; I hope she likes ballet. I’ve registered both my boys in dance classes and they’ve each refused to finish the sessions.

October 22, 2011 at 12:23 am 1 comment

Fitness Friday: High Pressure

A few months ago Derek went for his regular annual physical and was told that he had borderline high blood pressure (HBP). This was a little surprising to both of us as we equated HBP with stress and other risk factors that he doesn’t have (or exhibit). WebMD describes the causes of HBP as:

  • Smoking
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Lack of physical activity – he exercises vigorously a minimum of four, if not five or six times per week.
  • Too much alcohol consumption (more than 1 to 2 drinks per day) – he has the occasional 2 drinks at dinner out on the weekend.
  • Stress – according to Derek he does not feel stressed; anyone who knows him would describe him as “laid-back”; we discussed the possibility of subconscious stress.
  • Older age
  • Genetics – can’t do much about this one
  • Family history of high blood pressure – We discovered a big YES on this one
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Adrenal and thyroid disorders
  • Too much salt in the diet – a good one to attack wholeheartedly
  • White coat syndrome
So, with this information in hand, we went about attacking the salt in his diet (I like salt and have low blood pressure so I wasn’t about to change my diet!):
Biggest sources of hidden sodium in his diet:
  • Salad dressing: Home-made or store-bought
  • Breakfast Cereal: Kashi Go-Lean is guilty
  • Bread – yes, a single slice of bread has 10% of the recommended daily sodium intake
  • Deli meat: not so hidden, but part of his diet before he changed it up
  • Cheese
The big changes:
  • Breakfast now consists of Shredded Wheat, the lone national brand low-sodium cereal, fruit and milk with a cup of tea.
  • Lunch and daytime snacks have now changed from turkey sandwiches and salads with cheese to salads with home-made sodium free dressing, much less cheese, and home-made bread.
  • I bought a bread-maker at Derek’s request (on Kijiji – they are a dime and dozen) and have been experimenting with various recipes. The last one was the biggest hit – I’ll share it in a separate post. It’s not salt-free, as those attempts tasted like cardboard, but it’s much lower in sodium than store-bought bread.
  • Dinner is whatever is on the family menu, but I cook/prepare without adding salt now, and add at the end for myself and/or the boys, if really required.
The doctor also suggested to Derek that he cut back on caffeine from a couple of cups of tea and a few Coke Zeros to one cup of tea. He has made this change.
Six weeks passed
Derek went back to have his blood pressure checked. It was essentially unchanged. Uuugh!
We kept at it, trying to eliminate even more sodium (to about 800 mg per day; try it, it’s hard). He added some additional very low intensity walking to his days as recommended in the literature.
Another six weeks passed
Another appointment; another high/normal reading. Essentially no change. This time the doctor suggests Derek get a home blood pressure monitor like one of these:

Derek started taking daily readings at home. They are normal, a little on the higher end of normal, but in the normal range. He is recording them daily for a month. He has white coat syndrome.

He is still watching his sodium and caffeine intake now that we know he is in the high normal range and has a family history, but we are feeling somewhat relieved.

He still has a follow-up appointment with the doctor to show her his findings. I’m pretty certain she’ll tell him to continue to take periodic, though less frequent readings, and to continue what he’s doing with his lifestyle.

I’m proud of the changes he’s made and the earnestness with which he’s treated this potentially serious condition. Undiagnosed and untreated, high blood pressure is a life-threatening illness.

Now the usual Fitness Friday stuff: This week I tried something new. I noticed that my moods are very cyclical (sound familiar anyone?). I have also noticed that I am in a much better mood on days I run. So, this week was, on my personal calendar, a week that I am often moody. I decided to try running more frequently to see if it made a difference.

It did! Derek even commented last evening that I’ve been in a very good mood this week (he doesn’t even realize it would have been a “traditionally” bad week for my moods).

I’m thinking that running 5 days a week is probably not always going to be possible, or a good thing, but I’m going to try to do it again next month.

Running Rundown

Everything is posted in km. For those of you who only do miles, 1 km = .625 mile OR 1 mile = 1.6 km

Saturday – 14.75 km run – part with group and part on my own

Monday – 6.5 km recovery run

Tuesday – 11.5 km speed run 3 km warm-up; 5 x 2 min fast:1 min acceleration: 4 min rest; cool-down

Wednesday – 5 km easy run

Thursday – 7 km – tempo(ish) run at speeds between 5:07 km/h and 5:25 km/h (that’s why I added the -ish)

Cross Training 

Wednesday: Strength work at home

Friday: Vinyasa yoga

I’ll leave you with that yummy bread recipe I promised:

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
adapted from Cookie Baker Lynn

Makes three 1.5 lb loaves

3 c lukewarm water (you could substitute milk/almond or coconut milk for half
1 1/2 Tbsp granulated yeast (1 1/2 packets)
1/2 Tbsp sea salt
1/2 c honey
5 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (I used canola)
6 2/3 c whole wheat flour

1. If making in bread-maker, add ingredients in order specified for your machine. Knead and remove from machine. You could do the whole cycle in here, but I prefer to bake in the oven for three lighter, fluffier loaves rather than one dense one. Remove and proceed to step 4.

2. If mixing by hand, mix the yeast, salt, honey, and oil with the lukewarm water a in a 5-quart bowl or a lidded, not airtight food container.

3. Using a spoon, food processor with dough attachment, or a stand mixer, mix in the whole wheat flour without kneading the mixture.

4. Cover the mixture, and allow it to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flatten on top); approximately 2 to 3 hours.

5. Although the dough can be used after it has risen and collapsed, the authors state that the mixture is easier to handle when it is cold. Refrigerate it in a lidded, not airtight container and use over the next 5 days. After the five days, put the dough in the freezer for up to 1 month. I made one loaf with the fresh dough and it was just fine.

6. On baking day, lightly grease a 9x4x3-inch nonstick loaf pan. Using wet hands, scoop out a 1 1/2-pound (cantaloupe-size) handful of dough. With wet hands, quickly shape the dough into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.

6. Drop the loaf into the prepared pan filling it slightly more than half-full.

7. Allow the dough to rest for 1 hour and 40 minutes. Flour and slash the top of the loaf using the tip of a serrated bread knife.

8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) for 5 minutes, if not using a stone; otherwise, preheat the oven 20 minutes before baking time.

9. Place the loaf on a rack near the center of the oven. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray and quickly close the oven door. Bake the loaf for 50 to 60 minutes or until deeply browned and firm.

10. Allow to cool completely before slicing in order to cut reasonable sandwich slices.

October 15, 2011 at 9:18 pm Leave a comment

Fitness Friday: You Really Get to Know Someone When You Run Together

When I started thinking about fitness challenges, I wrote about a plan I made 11.5 years ago with my friend Jessica. She and I ran our first marathons together in 2000 – Rock’n’Roll San Diego. We met through the Team in Training program in Washington D.C.

We ran together every Saturday morning for about 4 months and would often meet during the week after work or early in the morning. Jess made me run faster than I normally would and I forced her to slow down when she wanted to push too hard.

When you’re stuck with someone for hours on a trail in northern Virginia jumping over large snakes (okay that only happened once) and getting skinned knees on gravel (that happened more than once), you really get know someone. We worked through all kinds of boy problems, work problems, roomie problems and had a lot of laughs.

Here we are 16 kms into San Diego:

Jess & me (with very short hair and ugly shorts) in 2000

And then, after a year of friendship and running, I moved away. But we remained friends. I ran another marathon the following spring, and Jess has probably run 15-20 since then (including Boston in 3:23 and 3:32 in consecutive years).

While we were running that first marathon, we vowed that we would run or walk a marathon every ten years together. It’s now been 11 years. We’ve remained long-distance friends through life’s ups and downs, challenges and joys…but we haven’t run our second marathon together.

Jess and her boyfriend decided on shortish-notice to make a trip to Ottawa this weekend and it just so happens that I’m running the Army Half-Marathon. I managed to find her a race number and we are going to run together. This will count as our ten-year anniversary (albeit half) marathon. She is injured, but my pace is slow for her so she should be fine. It will be like old times: Jess running a half a stride length ahead of me trying to encourage me to run faster and me telling her we need to slow down.

And then, after it’s all over and I’ve hugged my children and my husband and high-fived Jess and John, my little boys will go sleep over at my parents’ house and the four of us will celebrate with wine and food here and then maybe if I have any steam left, we’ll play a few hands of black jack here.

Old Running Buddies and New Running Buddies

Though I do miss my old running buddy, I wanna give a shout out to my current running friends too! Jenn and I run together at least once a week with the gang at the Elation Run Club, and often once or even twice more during the week. Jenn reminds me so much of Jessica. They have similar body types and running styles and both push me to run faster; I seem to play the anchor role in this running partnership too!

That's Jenn by my side during Ottawa Race Weekend

And the rest of you who I run with on Saturdays and sometimes Tuesdays (don’t want to mention names since I don’t have your permission), I so appreciate the company and all the mutual encouragement and I think the same applies to you all – you really get to know people that you run with, and it would be painful to spend hours with people you don’t like… You get my drift; you’re all great!

Elation Run Club; I'm missing.

Best wishes to everyone participating in the Army Run this weekend! My race plan is still to try to break 1:50. I’ll start off at around a 5:10-15/km pace and at the 12 km mark, I will decide to either go for it and maintain or push the pace, or, I will give my permission to just slow down and enjoy the run without any time goal in mind.

Running Rundown

Everything is posted in km. For those of you who only do miles, 1 km = .625 mile OR 1 mile = 1.6 km

Saturday – 10 km slow run (5:50/km pace) and then a peaceful found hour of conversation over coffee.

Tuesday – 5 km run with Jenn (approx 5:30/km pace) and then a 2 km walk; my short runs don’t feel that easy… getting nervous about the race on Sunday

Thursday, early morning– 3.5 km run with a few strides at the end.

Cross Training

Three long walks this week to burn off some of the unused energy.

I’m going back to watching the Season One finale of Friday Night Lights now. Happy weekend y’all! Should have lots of material for next week after the whirlwind I’ve got planned.

September 17, 2011 at 1:44 am 3 comments

Fitness Friday: Two Summer Race Recaps

It’s been so long since I wrote a Fitness Friday post. Now that routines are getting back to normal, I’m thinking about my fall fitness regimen. Today however, I want to catch up on two races I did in July.

July 1, 2011 – I posted a couple of pics from the Bushtukah Canada Day Races; I did the 5k. I hadn’t planned on it until the day before when I went to pick up Lil D’s 1k race kit and Lil C’s 100 m race kit.

A couple of weeks earlier I had run what for me was a fast 5k at the Do It for Dad. With the weather a balmy and humid 30 C, all I wanted to do was get under 25 minutes. It was a hard and hot run but I finished in 23:41, 13/83 in my age group, 32/344 women.

But I had so much more fun running the 1k with Lil D. He totally surprised me by pacing himself to run the whole thing except for a little hill. We finished together in 8:35. He was so proud of himself and asked when we could run the next one. I’m thinking the Rattle Me Bones race for the Ottawa Hospital Ortho Dept would be a fun one for him.

And as for Lil C, he wasn’t thrilled during the long 100 m run, that I didn’t hold his hand the whole way. In fact, he was so angry with me, that he wouldn’t wear his hard-earned medal. He vehemently exclaimed,

“I don’t want it!”

We then left the run and went to the Canada Day Festival at Andy Hayden Park and indulged in all kinds of sweet and gooey treats.

July 17, 2011 – This was the second hottest day of the entire summer and I had made a committment to be part of a three person mixed relay team for the Cow Pattie Relay in support of the Friends of Farm. This is a 10 mile 3 loop race that you can run alone, as a two person team, or as a three person team. I joined Jean-Pierre and Jenn as part of three person team, each of us running 5.33 km.

The race began at 6:30 pm at the Agriculture Museum in 35.8 degree celsius temperatures. The turnout for this race was not huge and I’m expecting that many who had registered and of course any day-of registrants opted out.

It was fun to be part of team though – and I survived – though listening to my painfully loud breathing for 25 minutes was not exactly pleasant. But guess what? We finished second out of the mixed teams! Yay for us.

So, lesson learned from mid-summer races: If possible, pay the late registration fee and only register if the weather is reasonable, and by reasonable I mean maybe below 30 degrees.

And that brings me to today. I am nine days out from the Army Half-Marathon. I have done all the training, as it was laid out in my schedule. I don’t feel any faster, but perhaps I’ll feel better at the end of this half-marathon compared to the one I did in May. I’d like to think I’ll run a smarter and more evenly paced race.

I’m well into my taper and here’s what I did this week:

Running Rundown

Everything is posted in km. For those of you who only do miles, 1 km = .625 mile OR 1 mile = 1.6 km

Saturday – 15 km slow run (6:05/km pace). It was humid.

Monday – 10 km run with time intervals at between 4:45 and 4:25 km/min pace: 2.5 km warm-up; 8 x 2 min with 2 min active rest; 1 km cool-down.

Thursday, early morning– 9 km run: 2 km warm-up; 6 km tempo building from 5:20/km to 4:49/km; 1 km cool-down

Cross Training

Nada, zippo, zilch, does walking your kids to and from school count?

I would love to get some suggestions for the best fall runs/races. I’m thinking 5 or 10ks until 2012. Who has races planned that they can suggest?

September 9, 2011 at 6:22 pm 3 comments

Fitness Friday: Practicing What She Preaches

On Monday I had an appointment with my family doctor. Don’t worry your pretty little heads, it was a follow-up about nothing serious. That appointment reminded me how much I appreciate her and her way of practicing family medicine. She doesn’t read this blog or even know it exists, so don’t start thinking that I’m trying to get a special treatment or something.

Our family doctor is really our whole family’s doctor. She saw me through 28 weeks of each of my pregnancies. She follows Derek and, when it came to deciding which route to go with the boys, paediatrician or family physician, there was no question that she would be the one to care for them.

If one of us has a problem, she understands the full family history and relationship. If I take one of the kids for an appointment and I need a refill on a prescription or to check a test result, I can ask the receptionist to pull my file too. She always asks how [insert last family member to visit] is doing. Even the nurse (not the one who screwed up the immunizations) will ask me about the boys when I am there for my own appointment without them.

What’s more, my doctor always asks about all aspects of health including diet, exercise, sleep, and emotional issues. She is the one who helped me discover the benefits of B12, Vit D and iron supplements. Her recommendations are always evidence-based and she usually points me to a reference or source for her advice.

Another great perk – she’s a repeat Boston marathoner. She encouraged me this week by telling me she has only gotten faster as she’s gotten older. This woman is 45 years old, runs (fast) marathons, practices medicine, is (or maybe was) president of her children’s school council and takes summers and holidays off to be with her kids. She has seriously got it together.

But back to the family practice experience:

After an appointment, if I happen to have a prescription to fill, I can take it to the pharmacist in the medical building and she knows the four generations of my family, from my grandmothers to my children, and she asks about them often.

To me, this is what true family medicine should look like. I know I’m in the lucky minority getting this kind of care. It’s really so sad that Ontario (and much of Canada) has such a hard time encouraging and providing this.

Today’s politically-charged question: Would you be willing to pay a fee to get better overall healthcare than you get now?

My answer: I think I get great care now, but if I had to wait weeks to get an appointment for my child or I had to wait hours at a walk-in clinic to get a different doctor every time, then yes, I think I would be willing to pay a fee to get better care. Do I know what this would do to our country’s basic health care system? Not for certain. But I do know that right now, many people are not getting the kind of care that makes sense.

Running Rundown

Everything is posted in km. For those of you who only do miles, 1 km = .625 mile OR 1 mile = 1.6 km

Sunday – 25 km run – 19k with Elation Run Club plus an extra 6 km. Gorgeous day. We all felt great. We ran several of the later kms at close to our race pace.

Monday – 2.66 km run (shortest run I’ve ever measured) – today I used running as transportation and then opted to not go any further. We are a one car family. I got dropped off at my doctor’s appointment and planned to run home and perhaps tack on a few extra kms. I wasn’t feeling it on that rainy afternoon, so I left it as just a means of transportation.

Tuesday – 11 km run with Elation speed training group on a miserable rainy evening – at least the company was good. We did a 15 minute slow warm-up along the river. The main part of the workout was 3 x 2 min fast; 1 min active rest; 1 min fast; 30 sec active rest; 3 min fast; 4 min active rest. Then a 15 minute slow run back. Great workout. My legs felt tired.

Thursday –8 km run on the first dry day in a long while. 3 km warm-up; 2.5 km at 10k race pace (about 4:55/km); 1 km slow; 1 km at half-marathon race pace (about 5:10/km); slow run the rest of the way home. I was given the advice that from here on in it’s not about volume but about intensity, so that’s what I focused on today.

Strength Training Stats

Monday: Greco Lean and Fit class

Friday: Greco Lean and Fit class

So now I’m starting to think about “after the half-marathon”. Can anyone suggest any fun 10k runs for me to do over the summer? I’ve got Do It for Dad on the calendar, but what else?

May 6, 2011 at 2:43 pm 3 comments

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