Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lacing Up for National Running Day

Happy National Running Day! In celebration of the holiday, I'm dedicating this entire post to running.

Arm yourself against harmful rays
First things first. Warmer weather, means more sun, which means you need to be even more careful about protecting your skin. I recently bought a pair of sun sleeves and tried them out on a recent morning run. It was love at first wear - they protected my arms from the sun and provided a bit of extra warmth on a semi-chilly morning. Mine are Pearl Izumi but you can also find similar styles from other brands.

Tips from Kara
Is there anyone better to get running tips and advice from than an Olympian? Last week, I read Kara Goucher's Running for Women and I'm definitely inspired to run more this summer. As I'm training to run my first half marathon, every extra bit of motivation is appreciated! Although the tips are geared more toward beginning runners like myself, advanced runners may still enjoy reading the book, especially if they are Kara fans!

A reason to hit the 'mill
Most runners use the treadmill only as a last resort. There's no getting away from the fact that it can be pretty boring. But, when trying to squeeze in a run before or after a training session or class at the gym, the convenience can't be beat. Below is my current way to make a five mile treadmill run go by faster. The quick intervals make it seem like time is flying by!

Set treadmill at 1.0 incline
1 mile warm up jog
Complete the following sequence 3x:
  • 0.0-0.10: 6.8
  • 0.10-0.25: 8.0
  • 0.25-0.30: 6.8
  • 0.30-0.45: 8.0
  • 0.45-0.50: 6.8
  • 0.50-0.65: 8.0
  • 0.65-0.70: 6.8
  • 0.70-0.90: 8.0
  • 0.90-1.00: 9.0
Finish with a 1 mile cool down jog

What motivates you to run? Do you have a favorite treadmill routine?

- ST

Banana Oatmeal Bars

For awhile now, I've been intrigued by the idea of making my own granola bars. This weekend I decided to give it a try. I didn't work off a recipe and decided instead to add ingredients I thought would work well together. My main goal was to create something delicious, but without as many preservatives as in store brands and without as much fat as normal desserts and granola recipes.

The result? Healthy, tasty and best of all, easy to make granola bars!

Banana Oatmeal Bars

1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp Smart Balance butter
1 small banana, smashed
2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup almonds, finely chopped
1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
2 tbsp dark chocolate chips

Add peanut butter and Smart Balance to a medium pot and heat until melted and combined. Stir in banana and cook until well blended.

Remove from heat and add rolled oats, almonds and coconut. After cooled, stir in chocolate chips.

Line a 8x8 pan with waxed paper. Firmly press mixture into the pan and refrigerate until firm. Cut into small squares and store in the refrigerator.

- ST

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Chickpeas

Several months ago, I went to my friend Melissa's house for dinner and she made an amazing pasta sauce with chickpeas. Before that, I wouldn't have thought to use chickpeas with pasta, but the combination was delicious.

Last night, I decided to try making my own version of the sauce. Since I made this recipe up as I was cooking, measurements are approximations.

Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Chickpeas

Serves 3-4

3 oz whole wheat thin spaghetti
1 container grape tomatoes
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine tomatoes, olive oil and salt and pepper in an oven safe dish. Roast tomatoes in oven for 40-45 minutes.

Cook pasta until al dente. While pasta is cooking, lightly steam onions and garlic in a separate pan until cooked through. Make sure you use a pan that is large enough to eventually accommodate the tomatoes and pasta.

Add roasted tomatoes and juices to the onions and garlic. Combine with crushed red pepper flakes and basil to taste. Add cooked pasta to the finished sauce. Top with a light sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese.

To up the nutrition, try serving the pasta on a bed of steamed spinach.

What's your favorite healthy way to eat pasta?

- ST

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fashionable Picks Now Available Online

When possible, it's nice to support the local shops. And now, it's easier than ever with Fred Boutique's new website that allows online orders. In case you're not familiar with Fred, it's located at 522. N. Water St. and offers fashionable, affordable clothing options.

Here are a few of my favorites that are currently offered online:

No matter what your style, there's pretty much something for everyone on the website. I'm definitely adding it to my list of favorites and plan on checking often to see what new styles have been added.

Happy shopping!

- ST

Monday, May 16, 2011

Race Results and Reflections

For the past few weeks, I've been eagerly awaiting the Ann's Hope Block Melanoma 5K run at the Milwaukee County Zoo. It's my first 5K in 2011 and an annual event that I look forward to every year.

Unfortunately, I woke up Sunday morning (5am, yikes!) with major congestion and a nasty cough. However, since it was a shorter distance, I decided to participate anyways.

It was a cold, extremely windy run. My headband actually blew off at one point! I also had to take a few short coughing breaks. In the end, I finished in 26:28; 10/49 in my age group; 8:31 mile average. It was well above my 25 minute 5K goal for this year, but it is what it is. I wasn't thrilled with the results, but given the circumstances I'm not disappointed.

If anything, it makes me even more excited for my next 5K race. I love a good challenge, so until then I'll be working on speed and hopefully I'll be in perfect health!

Here are a few upcoming races I'm participating in:

Laura's Smile Mile - Saturday, June 4
Lombardi Run/Walk for Cancer - Saturday, June 11
Summerfest Rock 'n Sole Half Marathon - Sunday, July 10

What upcoming races are you training for?

- ST

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The 80 Bites Diet

Have you ever noticed that when dieting, the moment you can't eat something, the more you crave it? This has happened to me on countless diets and is one of the reasons I was initially attracted to the 80 Bites diet. You can eat what you want, within reason, as long as you keep it to 80 bites. Even better, you don't have to count calories or track portion sizes at every meal.

Using the mobile app, it works like this: For every bite you take, you click or tap your phone screen. The app tracks how many bites you have taken and how many you have remaining for the day.

One day in and I'm already calling it quits. I eat a lot of raw vegetables throughout the day - which takes up the majority of my 80 bites. In fact, the vegetables alone took about 50 bites, leaving only 35 bites total for breakfast, lunch and dinner - not nearly enough to to support my two hour workouts. And I'll admit, tracking my bites using the mobile app got a tad annoying.

Although it wasn't right for me, this diet could work depending on the types of food you eat and how active you are during the day. To remove the annoyance of being tied to your phone during meals and snacks, you could instead track your bites on your own and total them up at the end of the day.

Has anyone else tried the 80 Bite diet? Or, what diets have you done that have been successful?

- ST

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Taste of Summer

In my opinion, the best-tasting foods are often the result of using the simplest ingredients. This melon caprese salad is a perfect example. It's easy to make and adds a taste of summer to any occasion.

When selecting a melon, look for one that feels heavier than it looks. Or, you can reduce prep time and buy a container of pre-cut melon in the produce department!

Melon Caprese Salad

1 1/2 lbs fresh melon, cut into bite-size cubes
1 container (about 8 oz) bocconcini (fresh mozzarella balls), drained
Fresh basil, chopped into thin ribbons
Extra virgin olive oil

Combine melon, bocconcini and basil in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Note: Use olive oil sparingly - you can always add more later if needed.

- ST

Friday, May 6, 2011

Shed Fat, Pounds and Inches With Tabata Protocol

Before getting into fitness, I was the poster child for skinny fat. In fact, the first time I had my body fat percentage measured, I nearly cried. It was hard to understand how I could be relatively thin, but still have a body fat percentage in the obese range.

Thankfully, that's all in the distant past. I recently had my body fat percentage measured again and am currently at 16.9! In addition to running and strength training, I credit the Tabata Protocol. If you're interested in blasting fat, consider rotating this type of training into your workouts.

Here's how it works: For every exercise, you complete eight intervals of 20 seconds all-out intensity followed by a 10 second rest period. For example, you might do eight sprint intervals of 20 seconds, followed by 10 second rest periods after each.

My current Tabata workout is as follows:

- Two mile warm-up run
- Tabata Protocol:
  • Jump Squats
  • Tricep Dips
  • Track Sprints
  • Push Ups
  • Seated Row
  • Alternating Side Planks
  • Side Lunges
  • Ball Crunches
  • Drop Backs
  • Alternating Jumping Lunges
- Cool Down and Stretch

What's your favorite way to blast fat?

- ST

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Short Story

When running - or doing any type of workout - having the right clothes makes a difference. For me, finding sports bras and tops is relatively easy. Shorts are another story. They're either too short, come up too high on the waist, fall down mid run or don't wick sweat.

That's what I love about my new shorts from GapBody - they are cute AND functional. Folding down the waistband makes them even more comfortable and I'm good to go for my entire workout.

What do you look for when buying workout clothes?

- ST