Sunday, April 13, 2014

Get More Than a Rockin' Body: 10 Unexpected Ways Running Will Improve Your Life

Yes, running for exercise can give you a rockin' body.  Running has a lot of amazing and obvious benefits like improving cardiovascular health, blasting calories, helping to maintain a healthy weight and raising endorphin levels.  Running will no doubt help you fit into your skinny jeans.

However, during my years as a runner I've discovered 10 TOTALLY UNEXPECTED ways that running improved my life. 

1. You will experience peace and quiet. 
I love running by myself. No kids or spouse to nag me. No urgent business or household chores to attend to.  I am blissfully alone with my thoughts and hopes and daydreams.  I can brainstorm and plan and problem-solve with no interruptions.  For a mom this quiet time is a little piece of heaven!

2. You will experience the wonders of nature.  
I'm not an outdoorsy girl, so running forces me out of the house and into the sunshine.  Actually it forced me to endure weather conditions of all sorts.  Brutal winds (always in my face, mind you!), rain, snow and sleet.  Without running I probably wouldn’t be aware of the subtle changes in seasons, the smell of blooming trees, the shadows the sun creates on the pavement as it crosses the sky.  Only a group run or a race on my calendar could drag me out of bed to witness the sun peeking over the horizon at the crack of dawn.

3.  You can choose your own playlist. 
There is nothing better than plugging in my earphones and rocking out to my favorite tunes. At home my background music is either the hubbie's TV or the sounds of the kids’ video games.  Running is time for me and MY music.  Creating playlists for runs and races is one way to hear those guilty pleasure songs that I would never admit to listening to!

4. You will conquer your fears. 
Being a runner forced me to conquer some of my biggest fears. I really dislike driving to new places because I always get lost (yes, even with a GPS), but I had to woman up to find my way to group runs and races. Before my first 10 mile run I was absolutely terrified of running that distance (it seemed so FAR), and I experienced the same terror with my first 20 miler and full marathon. But I survived.  Running has given me many opportunities to face my fears and become a stronger person.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Gluten-Free Banana Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Chunk Breakfast Cookies

Breakfast cookies are a delicious way to start your morning!

Weekday mornings can often be hectic so I love to have a grab-and-go breakfast option.  These Banana Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Chunk cookies fit the bill.  They satisfy my sweet tooth and are filling and healthy for rushed mornings. 

I often prepare a batch of these delicious, nutritious breakfast cookies and store them in the freezer.  In an instant I can grab two (or more!) cookies for a quick and yummy meal. 

The cookies also make a tasty snack and are a great accompaniment to a cup of coffee! 

Gluten-Free Note:  If you eat gluten-free as I do, make sure you check ALL of your ingredients, including oats, baking powder, protein powder, etc.  Use products specifically labeled "gluten-free."

Gluten-Free Banana Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Chunk Breakfast Cookies

2 cups gluten-free oats
1/2 cup vanilla protein powder (I used Syntha-6 Vanilla Ice Cream)
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed bananas (about three small)
1 egg
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (or approximately four squares dark chocolate bar, chopped)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using blender, grind 1 cup of the oats into flour. Combine with remaining 1 cup oats, protein powder, coconut flour, salt and baking powder in a mixing bowl. 

Using blender, purée bananas.  Add egg, coconut oil and vanilla to blender and pulse until mixed. 

Stir banana mixture into dry ingredients. Fold in chocolate pieces. 

Use large cookie scoop to scoop 12 portions onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Slightly flatten cookies since they will not spread.

Bake 10-14 minutes or until set and slightly golden on bottom. 

Cookies may be stored in the freezer and pulled out one or two at a time for breakfast or a quick snack. Microwave on a paper towel or plate for approximately 20 seconds. 

 What's your favorite grab-and-go breakfast option?

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This recipe is linked to The Gluten-Free Homemaker, Lynn's Kitchen Adventures,  Gluten Free Easily!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Too Many Peanut Butter Eggs but Monday Brings a Clean Slate!

The past few weeks I've been experimenting with some protein treat recipes, making chocolate covered peanut-filled Easter eggs and sandwich cookies.  To my surprise, hours of experimenting in the kitchen, photographing the goodies, editing pictures, writing the posts, etc. did not tempt me in the slightest.

Until Saturday.

Saturday was one of those rare days that I didn't track my calories in MyFitnessPal.  I'm not sure why - probably because I ate my normal breakfast and then didn't really have an official lunch.  I snacked on a few Banana Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies that I was photographing.  Oh and a few Double Chocolate Chip Cookies too.  But still, a few cookies doesn't equal a lunch, right?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

QUEST BAR Easter Egg Cookies, Filled Sandwich Cookies and Chocolate Covered Cookie Eggs

Easter is almost here and I really don't want to blow my diet eating sugary cookies or chemical-laden marshmallow peeps.  As usual, I turned to my favorite Quest bars for inspiration.  I had a blast creating THREE different Quest Bar mini Easter Egg treats. 

Here's a preview:

 1.  #CheatClean QUEST BAR Easter Egg Cookies

Chocolate Brownie Quest Mini Egg Cookies
These cute little cookies were cut out using a mini Easter egg cookie cutter.  They are TOTALLY HEALTHY.  Use 85% dark chocolate for the drizzle and add antioxidants, vitamins & minerals!  (Don't believe me?  See this article on the health benefits of chocolate!)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up - 4 Steps to a Healthy Week Ahead!

Sunday is a day of relaxation.

I love Sundays.  Generally I wake up at the crack of dawn 10:30 or 11am (yes, I'm a bum), sip on coffee, check Facebook, browse Pinterest and otherwise putz around the house in my sweats until lunchtime. 

Sunday is a day of preparation.

I've always used Sunday as a day to prepare for the week ahead - AFTER my morning lazy @ss time.  I pull outfits for the work week and hang them on one side of my closet.  I look at my calendar and map out my workouts for the week.  I make sure I have enough Quest bars for my breakfasts-on-the-go!

Sunday is also a day of reflection.

Sunday is also the day I have a little more free time to plan and think and dream.  Not only about what I will wear or eat, but I use this downtime to evaluate my health and fitness goals, see if I'm progressing appropriately, and decide if I need to make any changes.

I often do this planning and evaluating in my head.  I could be on Instagram  folding laundry and mentally reviewing my workouts for the past week. 

Whatever the context, I ask myself questions such as: 
  • Did I take too many unplanned rest days? 
  • Was there a good reason to skip a workout?
  • How was my diet?  Did I eat more calories than I need?
  • Did I have a decent intake of fruits and veggies?
  • Did I get enough sleep?  (Honestly the day I can answer this "yes" will be a cause for celebration!)
  • And so on.
Such reflection and questioning can happen in an instant, but I thought I would share the process with you.

Friday, March 28, 2014

April Fitness & Exercise Printable Calendar
Print your April motivational calendar!


It's time for the April Fitness Calendar! 

It's a new month and time for a shiny new printable exercise calendar.  I have my calendar on a table in my exercise room and I jot down my workouts each day.  It's easy to see at a glance whether I'm rocking my workouts or whether I'm slacking.  If there are lots of blank spaces (aka rest days!) then I know to get my butt in gear and get my sweat on!

Use my printable exercise & fitness tracker to help you set AND achieve your health and fitness goals this month.

1.  Set your goals.

  • What are your goals for the month?  Think realistic and achievable - you want to succeed!
  • What is your motivation?  An upcoming special event? Vacation?  To improve your overall health?
  • How will you reward yourself?  This is the fun part!  If you walk five times per week this month will you treat yourself to a massage?  If you eat six servings of fruits and veggies each day will you purchase a new pair of running shorts?  Celebrate your achievements.

2.  Plan your workouts.

  • Use the spaces on the calendar to plan your workouts in advance.  Some people are fitness free spirits, but most of us benefit from a little structure.  I like to what my workout will be before I change into my exercise gear!
  • Give yourself a gold star when the workout is completed.  Use actual stickers or just draw a star or a smiley face.  The point is to show mission accomplished.
  • Jot down little notes.  I like to note my energy level, rate my workout, and if I experience any unusual aches and pains. 

 3.  Keep your calendar in plain sight!

I can't emphasize this enough - make sure you see your calendar every single day.  Out of sight is literally out of mind.  I cannot tell you how many times I have made grand resolutions, wrote a well-thought-out plan and then somehow forgot all about it.  What??

If you are making the effort to set goals, please keep your goals and your motivation in front of you at all times.  See Keep Your Goals in Plain Sight for some ideas.

Download your April Fitness Calendar now,
and have a fabulously healthy April!

Be sure to share this calendar if you have friends who would like to set and achieve goals of their own this month.  And I would absolutely love your feedback on the calendar.  Is there anything else you would like to see?

Printables for Runners and Walkers:

If you are a runner and would like printables to track your race schedule and race results, please see:  Race Planning Calendar and Race Results Tracker.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

How to Make EASY Protein Peanut Butter Eggs - Only 3 Ingredients!

Simple and delicious protein peanut butter eggs.

I love the annual visit by the Easter Bunny and my favorite Easter treat of all times is a big 'ol chocolate-covered peanut butter egg.  Preferably EGGS plural.  Chocolate and peanut butter have to be one of the best flavor combinations ever invented.   Since I'm always trying to modify recipes with maintaining my waistline in mind, I came up with a slightly healthier option.

Even I can't say healthy and candy in the same sentence with a straight face, but I will offer you a quick, easy chocolate peanut butter treat packed with a protein punch. 

Pretty similar!  I used dark chocolate coating instead of milk chocolate.

I bought a Russell Stover's peanut butter egg to do a side-by-side comparison and taste test.  To me they taste exactly the same - the protein powder is undetectable.  The secret is using a delicious protein powder.

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Quest Bar White Chocolate Raspberry Coconut Bark Candy Recipe

Quest Bar White Chocolate Raspberry Coconut Bark

In February I posted my coconut bark candy recipe using (delicious!) Quest BarCookies & Cream chunks.  As much as I love the cookies & cream flavor, my all time favorite Quest Bar is white chocolate raspberry.  I kid you not, I have one for my breakfast almost every day.

This coconut bark is just as easy as the original recipe and contains only TWO INGREDIENTS!  Simply substitute the white chocolate raspberry bar (or your choice of flavor) for the cookies & cream.   You can find my original recipe here:  Quest Bar Cookies & Cream Coconut Bark Recipe.

And this is seriously amazing:  the Quest Nutrition Company made a 15 second video of my Coconut Bark Recipe!!  I am so excited and honored.  Watch it below...

 Let's stay in touch!   Get the latest Quest Bar recipes delivered right to your inbox!  

Friday, March 21, 2014

Everyone in the entire world is running and it pisses me off.

Is there a rule that says if you lose weight, or are trying to lose weight, you must become a runner?  And not just a thirty minutes on the treadmill at the gym kind of runner, but a full-fledged crazy distance runner? 

I was one of those.  Emphasis on WAS.  My damn left knee is absolute sh*t right now and even walking two miles is an ordeal.  Once upon a time, not so long ago (to quote Bon Jovi - brief moment of happiness) two miles wasn't even a full warm up.

It's late, I'm surfing the net when I should be in bed, and I'm randomly reading new blogs.  Every single one I've found belongs to ladies who have lost weight and now are runners.  I am happy for them but sad for me.  It pisses me off really.  I'm pissed at the universe, not at the other weight loss warriors.  Diet divas must stick together.  I guess I'm just jealous.  And tired and cranky.  Oh, and my knee aches.

The great cosmic joke is that I have the word RUN in my blog title.  Isn't that ironic?  I started this blog as a personal journal when I was in the midst of my own crazy distance running. 

I love writing about my weight loss and maintenance and fitness and struggles.  I always talk about turning negatives into positives and seeing the lessons learned in our daily challenges.  But right now I don't want to be positive.  I want to wallow in my sadness.

You know what?  I'm going to do something crazy and just hit "post."  I'm not going to edit my frustration this time.  I'm not going to hit "delete" because I don't have a positive message to share.  This is a private pity party, yes, but I suspect I'm not the only one who has a struggle of some sort and just NEEDS TO LET IT OUT.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Why I'm a Doctor's Worst Nightmare And How You Can Learn From My Mistakes

What is a doctor's worst nightmare? 
The dreaded non-compliant patient.
No doctor wants to be willfully ignored.  No doc wants his or her patients to spurn their professional advice.  No physician wants to help a patient and then watch the patient do exactly what they are NOT supposed to do.

True confession:  I am a non-compliant patient.

Last fall I spent a crap ton of money to see a holistic doctor.  My main complaints were worsening arthritis in my knees and hands, the dreaded flab around the middle that would not go away despite my best efforts and, the story of my life, digestive woes.  In a nutshell, despite being active and believing I was eating well, I did not feel well.

None of my visits were reimbursed by my insurance, and I paid out-of-pocket for the many blood tests I endured.  But I cheerfully paid.  My health is priceless, right?

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