Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Return of Oatmeal!

So yesterday I was out of bananas, which meant I couldn't make my beloved banana oatmeal for breakfast. Yesterday afternoon I solved this problem by stocking up on bananas. Which meant that this morning I got up and made my usual oatmeal with:
1/3 cup oats
1/3 cup vanilla almond milk
1/3 cup water
1 smashed banana
1tbsp chia seeds

I then topped it with 1/4 cup granola, a tablespoon of almond butter and a tablespoon of crofters superfruit spread.

Oatmeal I missed you! Even though it was only one day.

Also yesterday dinner turned out brilliantly. Before going to pick up the boy I marinated some chicken breasts - organic, ethically raised chicken, the only stuff we'll eat, which is why we don't actually eat that much meat as its INSANELY expensive - in a mix of soy sauce, tahini, garlic, ginger, some canola oil, and some sesame oil.

When we got home I stir-fried some one cubed eggplant with some shitake mushrooms (which are also super expensive, 14$/lb as compared to the 2.99/lb or so I usually pay for white button mushrooms, and ps, you probably could use white button mushrooms in this) in a bit of olive oil. I threw the chicken into the oven, on broil (the recipe said to grill it, but we have no barbecue), turning it ever five minutes for about 15 minutes (this would likely have taken lest time if I had pounded the chicken flat first, but it worked out fine in the end). Meanwhile I reheated some quinoa, and made up a batch of pasta. When the chicken and vegetables were done a threw a bit of soy sauce and sesame sauce into each of the grains and mixed it up. I sliced up the chicken, mixed it with the veggies and then mixed it up with the quinoa and pasta.

It was SO, SO, SO, good. I was a bit apprehensive because tahini is such a strong taste, and the vegetables were stir fried without any real flavor added, but the chicken marinade was so good, and somehow the addition of just a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil at the end made all the difference.

We curled up on the couch after dinner to watch Finding Neverland, which was amazing, but had me crying at the end, then cleaned the kitchen and went to bed.

I have today off, so my plan is to go for a six mile run, my calves are feeling better and I'm thinking an easy run might loosen them up a bit. Then I'm planning to bake, bake, bake. I haven't had a good baking day in a few weeks, and I have a recipe I would like to make: these banana oatmeal maple raisin cookies.

There might also be some more raw chocolate chip cookies in the near future, I think I have enough cashews to make them. I want to experiment with using a little less coconut oil as I'm not sure they need the full 1/2 cup I've been putting in. I also want to try and use a bit more agave in the raw chocolate chips as I don't think the chips were sweet enough last time.

Also on the schedule today is rock climbing! I'm so excited, we haven't been in AGES and I miss it. We used to go 2-3 times a week but life's gotten too busy.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Rest Days

Woke up this morning with my calves so tight I could barely walk. I took it as a sign and designated today a rest day as I didn't actually take one last week. I don't believe in working out seven days a week. Generally speaking I exercise six days and take one full-stop rest day. I'm not completely inactive, I walk (I walk to work, so most days include at least 30 or so minutes of walking), sometimes take the boy's dog for a walk, etc, but I don't do any high-intensity, sweat inducing activities. Considering that I got through my first half marathon without any injuries, I see it as a sign that my one-day-off per week system works.

So, back to this morning, I shuffled painfully into the kitchen, and threw together some Greek yogurt with a bit of honey and peanut butter granola, along with a piece of toast topped with coconut butter. We were out of bananas so no oatmeal for me, which was sad, because all I really wanted was a big bowl of oats, but the yogurt and toast were good.

I then went to work, where I snacked on a nature's valley peanut butter granola bar, during one of my breaks, and then had the other half of the vegan macaroni and cheese I made last night. I followed this recipe from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen, it was so so so good. I used whole wheat macaroni, so the fiber content was high, and it was fat free (except for what occurs naturally in tahini) and jam-packed with protein which was perfect considering the fact that I had just completed a ten mile run. It filled me right up for lunch too.

After work I drove over to whole foods and picked up some more bananas (oatmeal will make a return tomorrow!), rainbow chard, kale, carrots, garlic, cucumber, red and orange bell peppers... basically a giant produce run with some yogurt and sandwich thins thrown in. Along with some cliff-shots and cliff-blocks. Now that I'm running long distances again they're necessary, and I like that they have 70% organic ingredients, and I find they work. When my energy is waning around half-way through, they perk me back up and give my legs an extra kick.

Tonight for dinner I plan to make grilled tahini chicken (We don't have a barbecue, but I'm thinking a panini grill might work, either that or the broiler) over quinoa for me, and pasta for the boy. The recipe is out of Food to Live By which we got for Christmas and has yet to disappoint us. Seriously, if you are looking for a good 'slow foods' cookbook, this one is fantastic! Its by the same people who run Earthbound Farm Organics - you know all the pre-washed packaged salad, and the recipes are the kind that always, always, always turn out great. They even have one halibut recipe that the boy actually LIKED and he is not a seafood fan.

Catch ya' later!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Rainy Ten Miler

Happy Daylights Savings! Ugh. I opened this morning, which meant that instead of having to be at my store at the less-than-decent hour of 6:15 am, I had to be there at the equivalent to 5:15 am, which is the same as a weekday open, but there is a reason why I like doing the Sunday opens - because I get an hour more sleep.

The advantage of opening however is that I was off work by 2:15, which meant I had the rest of the day to go for a run. In theory. Because I am an idiot at times I thought the boy had taken my keys to work with him. Turns out they were in my apron the whole time, but I ended up hanging around the backroom of my store for an extra hour and a half, fortunately my wonderful ASM and I have a book exchange going on, and she'd just given me a new one to start. So I sat in the back and read... Until the boy called me asking if I was sure he had my keys, asked if maybe I'd left them in my apron... and a quick check determined that sure enough I don't function super well on five hours of sleep.

I went home, changed, thought terrible things about the weather and headed out for the ten mile run my training schedule prescribed. Let me just preface this by saying that the weather was horrific, as in pouring rain and windy horrific. Oh yeah, and cold. But there was no way I was getting through 10 miles on a treadmill, I would rather get wet. The first few miles weren't bad, until my hair got so soaked through (the hood on my rain-jacket was chafing against my forehead, I love love love my rain-jacket except for that serious design flaw) that water started running all over my face. It was in my eyes, my nose, mouth... You get the picture. I pushed through and finally around mile 6 the rain let up a bit, it was still coming down but not as intensely. Around mile eight I just got cold, I was absolutely soaked through and while my core was still warm, thank you lululemon running rain jacket (it was a Christmas gift from the boy's family), my legs got cold, which meant they got stiff, which meant all the aches and pains created by a week of running, yoga, and Jillian's 30 Day Shred started to bug me. But I dug in.

I was thinking about an article I read in Runner's World recently, about Kara Goucher one of the world's top female distance runners. She was talking about the mental tricks she uses to push through the immense pain of running a marathon at the speeds in which she runs them, and talked about using trigger words. About picking a word that encompasses your ability to succeed and the confidence you have in yourself. She picked fighter, to represent how she'd fought through so many challenges in her running career. I really liked the idea, the idea of being able to trigger a single word and create a mental clarity that gives you the emotional strength to push through, because while I don't run as hard as Goucher does, I do push pretty damn hard. So I started thinking about what my word would be, about what drives me, what pushes me to succeed.

And of course I thought about my mom. My mom who fought cancer for eight years, who turned every single death-sentence on its head so that when she finally did die she did it as much on her own terms as possible. She chose to go off medication. She was able to say goodbye to everyone, to confront them about the things that needed confronting, and forgive them for the things she was upset about. I remember the last time I saw her. I flew down to San Francisco about two weeks before she died, and before my dad drove me to the airport I went into her room to say goodbye, pretty confident it would be the last time I ever saw her. She was tiny when she died, 5'2 and maybe 85lbs, but she radiated strength. I hugged her, careful not to crush her, and she told me she loved me, that she was proud of me, and she was so happy for the time we'd had. I held her hand, and told her I loved her, and told her I was so proud of her. Because I am. My mother is my model for survival, for courage, for fight. She refused to give up. I was eleven when she was diagnosed, my brother was nine, and she was adamant about one thing: she wanted to see us grow up. She got to see me turn 19, and she got to see my brother turn 17. It wasn't perfect, but it was a lot more than anyone had hoped for.

My mother was a survivor, and she comes from a line of survivors. My grandfather was a holocaust survivor and my great grandparents survived pogroms, and some immigrated illegally into Israel, risking everything for a dream they believed in. Survival is something that is inherent within me. It had to be. I survived my teenage years growing up in a family destroyed by breast cancer. I kept my sanity, my ground, and my ability to function. I've survived academic disappointments and come out stronger on the other side.

I am a survivor.

So today, when the last two miles of rain and wind threatened to make me give up. I conjured up the word, and pounded through those last two miles.

Let me tell you. It worked.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Schedule Confusion

I messed up today. I thought I was opening, so I made plans to go climbing with the boy and some friends of ours at five tonight. Turns out I'm closing tonight and therefore have to be at work at 4:30. So no climbing for me, which actually makes me really sad. I started climbing because the boy and his two best friends have been climbing since they were fifteen (so eight years now, WOW!). He finally convinced me that I would not be too fat for the harnesses, and I agreed to take an intro class about two years ago now (December 2007). Turns out they had to put me into an extra large men's harness, but I got over it, learned how to belay, and tie in properly and fell in love with the sport.
As I lost weight over the last year one of the things that astounded me was how quickly my climbing improved. I spent almost a year struggling to go from climbing a 5.7 (stupid easy) to a 5.9. As my weight dropped to around 175 and below I moved from climbing a 5.10a to a 5.10c in about three weeks. As of now I have on-sighted (that is climbed without falling, to the top on my first try) a a few 5.10ds and have a few 5.11as and bs that I am currently working on, as in I can climb them, but not without lots of falls. As the boy said, now that I'm carrying up 25lbs+ less per hand, difficult, technical moves, along with moves that require a whole lot of strength are much, much easier.

I've been thinking a lot, lately, about the things I used to do to myself, the way life used to be. The boy and I used to go out to dinner and order two appetizers, two mains, and dessert. He can do that, he's tall, super thin, and struggles to put weight on. I thought because he could do it, I could too. Not the case. Not the case at all. I couldn't go hiking, I couldn't enjoy the outdoors because I worried I would be faced with a physical challenge I would be incapable of over coming. When I went to Vegas with my friends in August 2008 I untagged almost every photo that went up on facebook and spent the three days we were there semi-miserable due to heat and my inability to walk as fast as everyone else because it exhausted me.

Last week I was asked to go pick up milk from a nearby store about fifteen minutes from mine. We were desperate, had one jug of milk left, and the boy had taken my car. As a result I carried (in giant costco bags one of the people at the other store let me borrow, otherwise it would have been impossible) over 50 pounds of milk back to my store. As I was walking, my muscles aching, I realized that I used to live every single day of my life like this. Every day. It's shocking to me now, and that's the true testament to how far I've come.

My manager calls me 'muscles,' I run half marathons, people consider me fit, toned, in shape. All things I never was before in my life. And I wont lie, I love it.

In other news today has been semi-laid back. I got up and threw together some Greek yogurt, granola, and a banana and ate it while I sat in bed reading. Later in the morning I also had one cookie that the boy's mom baked last night, she's a fantastic baker and I'm a strong believer in occasional indulgences. Particularly when it come's to her baked goods. The key, and I know this is the hard part (trust me I screw this part up frequently), is to only have one.

After cleaning the kitchen and fridge I put together lunch. For lunch I threw together a sandwich made up of multigrain sandwich thins, crofters superfruit spread, humus, spinach, and tempeh. I know it sounds weird, it was actually really, really good. I also had an apple on the side. As I suspected, they were, indeed, good apples.

When I found out I wouldn't be going climbing today I thought I might go to Bikram, but the boy needed the car as he is still going climbing after work, so I downloaded Jillian Michael's 30 day shred and did level one. Ok, so I know a lot of people have problems with Jillian, and the Biggest Loser, but I've been curious about her DVDs and I've heard really good things. In short, level one had my sweating like crazy. I didn't think 20 minutes could give me that good a workout, but it did. I worked, and I worked hard. I still have problems with the Biggest Loser; basically I don't think losing 200 pounds in six months is healthy in any way, shape or form... but her workouts are solid.

I'm off to go throw together dinner to take to work. I think I'm going to have some leftover quinoa, with spinach, almond milk and almonds on top, I've got a bit of an idea I'm playing around with... I'll let you know how it works out.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Snow to Sun in Five Hours or Less

Vancouver weather is famously odd. Ok well its famously wet and lately its been famously odd. My plan this morning was to get up, have breakfast and go for a five mile tempo. When I woke up at about 8:30, I looked outside to see snow. Yes, SNOW. This year we've barely had any snow in Vancouver, see the Winter Olympic news reports for more information on that one (ha!)... but last night it decided to snow. I also had a terrible headache, so I made myself some oatmeal, my usual with almond milk, banana, cinnamon, and vanilla, topped with almond butter and crofters superfruit spread which melted into the oatmeal and was delicious, and crawled back into bed. I lay around for a bit, chatted with the boy, started a new book, read blogs etc. At around eleven I went across the street for some coffee. Finally at about noon, the sun started shining, the snow melted away, my head was still pounding, but I thought running might make it feel better so I got changed, grabbed my trusty Garmin and got going.

I had a five mile tempo to run today and it was glorious. Yes, glorious. I warmed up, with a 9:47 mile and then went into the three tempo miles, first mile 8:24, second mile 8:36, third mile 8:59 - that's right all three miles in under 9:00 minutes which makes it my fastest tempo to date. Awesome! I then did a super slow cool-down mile, stretched and went home. My legs felt dead, in a good way.

I got home and threw a cup of almond milk, two handfuls of spinach, a banana, some frozen raspberries, and a scoop of brown rice protein powder into the blender, and inhaled it. One of my goals for my marathon training is to be better about recovery that is stretching, icing, and getting some protein and carbs, in liquid form so they are better absorbed immediately after working out so my muscles can repair themselves etc.

Now I'm off to go shower and we're heading out to our favorite lunch place - The T Room to grab some food. We haven't been there for a few weeks and I'm excited.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Power Yoga

Today was filled with new things. Before going to work I made my usual banana oatmeal, but instead of topping it with almond butter I stirred in some coconut butter. To be honest, I couldn't really taste it. Although I still love coconut butter on toast, and anywhere else where I can actually taste it, I will probably be sticking to almond butter on oatmeal.

I got to work a bit of a shorter shift today which was nice, only six hours. I brought an Ezekiel tortilla with apple butter as a snack to work, and Greek yogurt, granola, and a banana, along with an almond butter and apple butter sandwich for lunch. Apple butter was a recent discovery for me, a friend of mine has been raving about it for weeks and I finally picked some up. OH MY GOD, it's absolutely amazing. So, so, so good! It's basically apples and apple cider that get simmered down with cinnamon to create a thick spread that has a consistency similar to super thick applesauce. It taste's like heaven, and only has 20 calories per tablespoon, which is more than enough to cover a piece of bread. Of course I've taken to eating it with a spoon... but that's just me.

After work I went home, grabbed an Ezekiel tortilla with a small amount of almond butter and apple butter (are we seeing a pattern here?) and then went to go try out my first ever Vinyasa Power Flow class. I've done a pretty good amount of Bikram yoga, and while I love it (well in that I hate doing it, love the way I feel after kind of way) and I'm get a workout in the sense that I'm sweating my but off (literally), and there is some muscle work... I wanted a real 'oh my god, my muscles are shaking, can't hold this for another second, wow I'm sore and can't move my legs' kind of workout. So power flow class it was. It was really, really fun. I loved it, and man do all those downward dogs work your triceps, not to mention the countless plans, twists, and awkward balancing poses. She also had us pair up so that we could actually do handstands, which was cool because it's not something I have the strength to do yet. In short, I really enjoyed the class, it flowed nicely, I was able to get into it, but because it wasn't a class with set series of poses there was a certain amount of informality and flexibility to it that I liked.

The studio was right next to whole foods, and I was out of bananas (I tried only buying six this week as the 12 I bought last week almost ended up going bad, but I ran out, so this time I am trying eight). So I ran in, and bought some bananas, and some apples, because they actually looked good this week. I am super picky about apples and wont eat them if they don't have the right crunch. Fortunately I've gotten pretty good at telling whether or not they will be good by look and feel. They looked good this week - hopefully they will be. I also decided to grab a giant salad from the salad bar for dinner as the boy requested Asian noodles from a place nearby and I was feeling a bit carbed out.

I piled a box high with spinach, chickpeas, sesame tofu, carrots, bell peppers, and corn and topped it off with raspberry vinaigrette, and raisins. I also grabbed some nature's path granola bars as I need snacks to take to work as I am always starving halfway through my shift, and let me tell you, the Starbucks pastry case is hardly filled with health-food items. I got the pumpkin spice flavor and the apricot flavor. I love, love, love their peanut butter granola so I had a good feeling. They didn't disappoint, I had a pumpkin spice one in the car on the way home because yoga left me starving. So, so good.

With my dinner salad I also had a piece of soda bread with almond butter (again, but let me note I only ever put about a teaspoon if even on bread, I'm not a fan of super thick spreads, I like it thin, just enough so I can taste it, not so much it sticks to the roof of my mouth), and crofter's superfruit spread, which I also grabbed at whole-foods today after seeing it on so many blogs. Again, it didn't disappoint, and was the perfect dessert.

After dinner the boy and I proceeded to watch this week's episode of Lost and now I think its time for bed. We both have the day off tomorrow, so I think we're going to go climbing. I also have to do a 5 mile tempo tomorrow, the first one of my marathon training plan. Yay!


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Rainy Run


I have today off, which basically means I get to spend the day cooking, yay! This morning I drove the boy to work and then stopped by Whole Foods on my way home. I know, I know, I was there yesterday, but I forgot a bunch of stuff like sandwich thins, kale, and tortillas, so I had to go back. I then came home, had one of the power cookies I bought from the Whole Foods bakery (they're made with spelt flour oats, flax, pumpkin, sunflower, and a million other seeds, raisins and just plain goodness in general) and set out for a four mile run. Today, unlike yesterday is one of those gross, rainy, cloudy, Vancouver days. Nevertheless, I had a good run. It wasn't absolutely pouring down rain, more like a light drizzle and it actually felt kind of nice. When I got home I was starving. I ground up some cauliflower, and added some lemon juice and raisins, and then threw it on top of a huge bed of spinach, with a red bell pepper, some carrots, a bit of nutritional yeast, a black bean veggie burger crumbled up, and raspberry vinaigrette. For dessert I had the other power cookie I bought.

Then I set to work making raw chocolate chip cookies again. I've been promising my manager I'd make them again for weeks and haven't managed to get around to it, but I finally did today! Yay! They are currently in the fridge hardening up.

Also on the agenda today are these nacho cheese kale chips. I am pretty excited about them, my first experiment with kale chips went wonderfully and I'm excited to spice them up a bit. I don't own a dehydrator, so I'll be throwing them in the oven, but that worked brilliantly last time so hopefully it will again...

I'm also thinking about making the coconut chocolate bars I made last week cause they were so good... But I don't know if I have the time or the energy. Although we are going over to my boyfriend's Dad's place for dinner tonight so its not like I have to make dinner.

Catch ya' later.