Monthly Archives: April 2011

Sweets Overload

Happy day after Easter!

Most wouldn’t consider this a special occasion, but it is for me every year. Yes, I do all of my normal things, but it feels like a treat because I don’t do my normal things over the long weekend. For some reason, Easter persuades me to overindulge every year. I keep myself in check for all of the major holidays — Thanksgiving, Christmas, my birthday — but whenever Easter rolls around I can’t seem to get food in my mouth fast enough. What gives?

This guy is out to get me.

After indulging in more than my fair share of sweets this weekend, my body was seriously craving a nice round of exercise and some healthy eats. I was more than happy to oblige.

Mexicali Porkchops.

While breakfast and lunch were both nutritious, dinner really stole the show. I had some pork chops that needed to be used up before they spoiled (already thawed out), so I broke out the old-fashioned cook books for a new recipe. The winner came from“Better Homes and Gardens’ New Cook Book” from 1981!

Throwback!

I stuck mostly to the recipe, but swapped out a few ingredients for what was already lying around the house.

Lots o' veggies in there.

The dish perfectly satisfied my taste buds and my body was so happy to get so many good veggies in one dish. I also had a big helping of green beans on the side.

The steam was fogging up my lens.

I recommend this recipe to anyone looking for a little kick in their dinner! It was easy to throw everything together and I got some homework done while the pork chops baked in the oven.

So how do you make it? I won’t force you to go find the ’81 cookbook I had lying around, so here’s the recipe:

Mexicali Porkchops (makes four servings)

Ingredients

  • 4 pork chops
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 16-ounce can of tomatoes, cut up
  • 1 8-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 8-ounce can red kidney beans, drained (I used black beans)
  • 1/2 cup long grain rice (I used Uncle Ben’s Long Grain & Wild Rice)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Few dashes bottled hot pepper sauce

Directions

  1. Trim fat from chops. Cook chops in skillet until golden brown. Set chops aside.
  2. Combine all other ingredients in a pot and boil on medium heat until rice is cooked and mixture is boiling.
  3. Pour mixture into a baking dish; arrange chops on top so they’re slightly mixed in. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
  4. Uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes more, or until meat is tender.

As for exercise, I logged three miles on the treadmill and completed about 20 minutes of strength training. I was supposed to have an intramural softball game this evening, but it was cancelled due to rain. Boo.

My body is more than ready for me to get back into my healthy eating habits. I’ve had way too much sugar lately and combined with stress, it’s a quick recipe for a body crash. Speaking of, I’m heading to bed for a good seven hours of sleep!

What about you? Do you overindulge on Easter, or any other holiday? How do you get back on track?

Bikini Bravery

While I was preparing for my half-marathon, I realized that my final spring break was smack dab in the middle of training. I knew that I wasn’t going to skip out on spring break because after all, this was my last year to have a fantastic, week-long vacation with some phenomenal friends. But I also knew that I couldn’t just abandon my plan and overindulge in every delicious food that came across my radar while in Key West.

Before my trip, I was anxious that I would fall off the wagon and “accidentally” forget about the running I needed to accomplish throughout the week. But once I was there, I grew more and more excited to experience Key West completely on foot. I savored the delectable dishes my friends and I tested, but allowed my body the opportunity to feel great afterward with a workout.

Want to know what else made it such a great vacation? Self confidence. Or when this time of year rolls around, what I like to call bikini bravery.

One of the bravest things a girl can do.

One of the bravest things a girl can do.

Training for this half-marathon gave me the confidence to walk around in my bikini for 75 percent of the trip and not be worried about how I looked to others. But it wasn’t because I was skinny. It was because my body felt strong, which made me feel great. I didn’t care that I could strut my stuff across the beach. I felt sexiest when I was running along the shoreline with sweat pouring down my face because my body was powering me through at least four miles in 85-degree weather. Hanging out in a bikini top with my midsection confidently exposed was just a bonus.

Soakin' up some vitamin D.

I know I don’t have what many would call a perfect body, and I certainly don’t have the type of body prominently displayed through many of the pop culture’s media outlets, but I have the perfect body for me. I have strong legs, toned arms and a flat but not-so-defined tummy. I’m not stick-thin nor overweight. I’m basically smack dab in the middle of a healthy BMI range for someone my height and weight. And all of that is perfectly fine with me because I worked hard to get where I’m at today and I’m proud of my accomplishments.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I’m happy to be who I am, and you should be too. Be proud of the effort that you put in. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering — any amount of effort is better than none. I don’t have six-pack abs (nor do I think I ever will), but I can run a half-marathon, hold a plank for a minute and a half and do 20 jump squats in a row.

So I’ve decided that I’m going to live my bikini bravery to the fullest this summer. No hiding who I am and what I’ve accomplished. Won’t you join me?

While you’re at it, tell me what some of your fitness goals are for this summer! It can be anything: testing out or incorporating more yoga, running a 5k, slipping on an old pair of shorts, or improving a weak spot, maybe? I want to know! I’ll even go first: I really want to complete the Warrior Dash race in August with my college friends!

Race Fever

People warned me that this would happen.

“Be careful, it’s addicting!”

I shrugged my shoulders and laughed it off every time. I didn’t believe them.

I was wrong.

Sign me up.

After running my first half-marathon, I am officially addicted to racing. I’m not sure how long this obsession will last for, so I’m just going to roll with it for now. I find myself constantly checking out races to sign up for, but at the same time I’m trying to hold back because of my very slim wallet.

Which is where Oswego State comes in. Yeah, yeah, they’ve been sucking money from me for the last four years, but at least I get some pretty cool perks out of it. Example numero uno: the eight-week training program for the sprint triathlon. Now, I knew about this program when it first started being advertised, but I didn’t take full advantage of it because I was still training for my half-marathon, so my days revolved around running. But I kept the race in the back of my mind, thinking that I could train for it afterward.

Well, the time has come, my friends. I am officially training for this sprint triathlon.

What is that, you may ask?

  • 7,500 yard swim (or 15 laps)
  • 12.4 mile bike
  • 3.1 mile run

I’ve never done any type of triathlon before. In fact, I’ve never done any type of swimming in a competitive manner (Unless cannonball contests count, of course). So I decided to start with something small and this race fits perfectly because it’s on campus (no travel costs) and it’s free! Well, I paid for it with all of the hidden fees the school tacks on in your tuition, but I like to tell myself that it’s free.

The race also offers a beginner sprint triathlon, which consists of:

  • 7 lap swim
  • 6.2 mile bike
  • 1.5 mile run

Clearly, it’s half of the sprint triathlon. I decided to suck it up and go for the full-distance of the sprint. I’m not looking to do anything amazing in this race; I’d just like to finish. After all, the last time I made that my goal I did pretty well. Plus, it’s something I’ve never done before, so I automatically get a new PR (personal record)!

But this sprint triathlon isn’t the only race that’s caught my eye.

Warrior Dash

A few of my college friends and I are signing up for the Warrior Dash on August 13 and 14 in Windham, N.Y. By the time the race rolls around, the majority of us will have graduated and moved on to the next phase of our lives, so this will be a great reunion weekend that will allow us to catch up, reminisce and get our sweat on.

Finally, I really think I’m going to sign up for the Philadelphia Half-Marathon on November 20. My birthday is November 18, so I’d love to head over there with some friends to celebrate my birthday and explore the city. I think I’ve convinced my two future roommates, Libby and Victoria, to run it with me. Now I just have to win over my older brother, Justin, who’s studying at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM).

Dr. Shelton hiking in California!

He’s extremely athletic, so I’m hoping it won’t require too much pleading. My main obstacle is his school schedule. Being in med school takes up a lot of your time, from what I hear 😉

You may have noticed that I kept saying “I think I’m going to sign up for this.” I’d love to say that I’ve already registered for each race, but I only have for the sprint triathlon. Why? Because the sprint triathlon is the only one that’s free. I’m graduating in one month (woah!), which means I have a lot of financial responsibility coming my way pretty soon. I’ve paid my own bills throughout college and manage my money quite well, but I need to keep in mind that I’m moving to New York City, which is way more expensive than Oswego, and preparing to pay back student loans.

Basically, this all means that I would absolutely love to compete in each of these races, but I’m not going to count my eggs before they hatch. If someone wants to pay my entry fees, I’m all in!

Now, I want to know: Are there any races you’re looking forward to this year? What money-saving tips do you have for a soon-to-be-college-graduate who has this new love for racing?

Relay for Life Saves Lives

Although race season is moving into full swing, it’s not the only event gaining a lot of momentum.

And no, I’m not talking about baseball, either.

It's Relay season!

Relay for Life is taking over college campuses and towns are gearing up for their Relays in the summer. This spring, colleges across the country are raising money for the American Cancer Society to fight for a world with more birthdays.

I’ve participated in Relay for Life every year since I was a freshman and my final one as a college student took place two weeks ago. I know I’m a little slow on the update (race training got in the way!), but I still think it’s an extremely important cause that deserves as much recognition as it can get.

Freshman Year: Hakuna Matata!

Sophomore Year: Won't Back Down!

Junior Year: (Dirty) Dancing For A Cure!

Never heard of Relay? It’s an overnight fundraising event that usually lasts for 12 hours. Students (or community members) form teams and raise as much money as they can before the event.

I met my goal!

Once you’re at the event, your team members take turns walking around a track for the entire twelve hours, which symbolizes the journey that a cancer patient endures. Teams also set up fundraisers at the event and participants often enjoy snacks, games, competitions and more to stay upbeat and entertained throughout the night while raising as much money as possible.

Every Relay usually follows a theme of some sort as well. Our theme this year: sports! Why? Well, this year’s Relay was extremely important to our Colleges Against Cancer (CAC) committee because our founder, Ginny St. Onge, suffered a terrible loss. Her mother passed away this year after an extremely long battle with breast cancer. Nancy St. Onge inspired so many of us and she was always incredibly positive in her outlook toward life, so we knew this year’s Relay was going to be in her memory and honor.

Ginny with her mom.

Memorial table at Relay.

We asked Ginny what Nancy would’ve wanted the theme to be and she chose sports because Nancy loved them. My team was the CAC team, so we made sure our team name went along with Nancy’s favorite sport: football! Ladies and gentleman, meet team Catching A Cure!

Relay roomies!

Dustin, Ray and Kyle were also on our team, but for some reason we forgot to take a banner picture this year. Oops..

Either way, the night was a great success as we had over 400 students come out for the night and fight cancer one step at a time.

CAC team getting a lil' goofy.

We weren’t afraid to bust out some dance moves, either.

Imitating Kurt's "Ring On It" skillz.

The community also gets involved as many businesses donate gift cards, food and drinks to fuel fundraising efforts and keep us energized throughout the night. Guess who snagged the third highest fundraiser award? This girl!

When we began Relay at 6p.m. on Saturday, March 26, we had raised just over $21K. By the time 6a.m. rolled around, we had raised $27,148.65 for the American Cancer Society — about $6,000 in one night! We accept donations up until August too, so feel free to keep sharing the love!

Money raised!

Why do I Relay? For many reasons, but the most personal one is because my mom was diagnosed with muscle invasive bladder cancer during my first semester away at college. It was a terrifying experience; one I don’t wish on any other family or loved one. My mom is an extremely strong woman though, and after a long, grueling journey, my mom beat her cancer. She has been cancer-free for two years now and I pray that it stays that way.

At Relay in 2010. Mom was the survivor speaker!

But so many people in my life have been affected by cancer. Other family members of mine have been diagnosed and my best friend’s dad fought lymphoma when we were younger. I Relay simply because without events like this, my mother and best friend’s dad may not have had the resources they needed to fight cancer and stay in my life. I Relay because I can only hope that one day people won’t have to hear the words, “you have cancer.”

So have you participated in a Relay for Life yet? It’s not too late! Sign up for one in your community, or donate to someone who is participating. Every donation helps, no matter how big or small. I raised over $500 and all of my donations came in increments of $10, $20, $25 and $50. Little pieces add up to a big picture!

I want to send a big thank you to everyone who donated to my fundraising page. It really means the absolute world to me and I can’t ever thank you enough for being so generous! I love you all!

Recuperating Post-Race

It’s been three days since I ran my first half-marathon, but I’m still riding high after such a great event. Although I’ve been feeling pretty sore, particularly in my left foot, I can’t help but smile every time I think about all that I accomplished on Sunday.

So what have I been doing the past few days while riding out my soreness? Stretching. Lots and lots of stretching.

Yogify me, captain!

I knew I wasn’t going to do much running this week because I ran the entire half-marathon. Throughout my training plan, I set myself up to use the run/walk method because I simply didn’t think I was ready to run 13.1 miles straight. Once I was at the race though, the energy from all of the women completely captivated me and pushed me through each and every mile. Not once did I feel like I desperately need to walk.  In fact, when I did walk, I kept feeling the urge to pick up the pace and run again. It felt glorious.

Run, Sam, Run!

But on the flip side, it meant I had some seriously sore feet after the race. My knees were killing me after the race too, but that pain subsided by Monday. By Tuesday, I was craving another workout but didn’t want to push my body past its limits. So what’s a girl to do?

Yoga!

Streeeeeetch!

I love the Warrior 2 pose.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a yoga expert by any means, so I made sure to head to the class offered by my campus gym. These photos are just some additional stretches I did at home afterward. I don’t incorporate enough yoga into my exercise routine and I really need to get into it more often. After all, it improves my running and lets me do cool things like this:

Another favorite but trying to get closer to the floor.

And this…

I like to think I look peaceful in this one.

It felt fantastic to stretch out my muscles so well after running for such a long distance. My muscles were praising me afterward, much like they did after I took a class at Strala Yoga. I’m still very much a novice, so I can only hope to one day bend like Tara Stiles.

Extremely bend-y.

For now, I’ll keep trying to touch my toes some more. And I’ll always make sure to fit in my all-time favorite corpse pose.

Just chill.

It has quite a morbid name, but it feels oh-so-good.

Are you, like me, new to yoga? Or more of an expert? Ever given it a shot? I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on it, and any tips to stretch me out some more!

First Race = Complete!

Best. Weekend. Ever.

Best. Race. Ever.

I’m pretty much on cloud nine right now.

I probably should've flipped the blanket out. Oops!

The MORE/FITNESS half-marathon today in Central Park really was phenomenal. It was well-organized, clearly marked and stress-free. Not to mention the weather was absolutely gorgeous! Perfect running weather for a perfect first half.

But let’s rewind a bit.

I woke up bright and early this morning at 5:00 to fuel up for the race and give myself plenty of time to go to the bathroom before jetting off to the starting line.

I'm more excited than I look, I swear.

For breakfast, I gnawed on half of a huge cinnamon-raisin bagel with peanut butter and a sliced banana on top. Yum! I enjoyed some water on the side, as I’m not a coffee-drinker. I spent the rest of the morning getting ready, catching up on blogs and having fun with my camera.

What's she looking at?

Alright, I'll be serious.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what I’m wearing, I realized this morning that it’s all Nike: my sneaks are Nike LunarGlide +2’s, and all of my clothing is Nike — sports bra, T-shirt, long-sleeved top, capris and socks. Maybe they’ll sponsor me next time?

Anyway, Nina and I headed out to grab the N train to Central Park, then made our way to my grey corral. Before parting ways, we made sure everyone had their necessary belongings, including the sign she made me!

Isn't she cute?

Standing around all of the people with cameras prompted a quick pre-race photo shoot outside of the corral.

My lucky number 9 in the bib!

Nina gave me a quick hug goodbye and good luck, then made her way out to mile three, where we planned on seeing each other first. I moved into the corral and waited for the gun to sound. Before I knew it, we were off and running!

The first few miles zoomed by and I saw Nina at mile three sooner than I expected. I planned on walking a little around mile five, but never needed to. In fact, I didn’t walk at all! I ran the entire race, stopping briefly to chug down water three times at the water stations. I haven’t mastered the “run while drinking” trick yet — I tried it at the first stop, but ended up dumping nearly the entire thing down the front of my shirt. Whoops!

I had one ear bud in to listen to my iPod, but ended up zoning out a lot. Occasionally, I tuned into a song I really enjoyed, but I spent most of the race paying attention to how awesome my body felt and soaking in the scenery. Seriously, running in Central Park is amazing.

I'm on the right in the black capris and black top!

I drank water for most of the race, choosing Gatorade only twice because it made my stomach feel a little funky. I popped in a Clif shot blok at mile six and another one right before mile 12. Once I saw that 12-mile marker, I high-tailed it to the end. I finished my last mile at a 9:10 pace, crossing the finish line at 2:16:02! I finished in 3,725th place out of more than 10,000 runners, and 378th out of my age group of 20-24-year-old women 🙂

Own it.

They gave me this awesome medal at the end, too.

I rocked this race, yo.

Close up action.

And the other side.

Just so you know, I met all three of the goals that I set for myself when I signed up for this race:

  1. Train the best you can without getting an injury.
  2. Finish the race.
  3. Cross the finish line before 2:30:00.

Yay!

The sponsors had a festival at the end of the race, so I met up with Nina there and roamed around the various tents in an attempt to shake out the pain that hit my legs after I stopped running.

Love this girl!

I also met up with my old boss, FITNESS editor-in-chief Betty Wong, and chatted about the race for a bit.

Betty = amazing.

By then I was starving, so Nina and I headed out and grabbed some lunch at a random diner. I can’t remember the name, but I had a Santa Fe wrap: grilled chicken, roasted peppers and veggies on a whole wheat wrap.

It hit the spot.

I was craving something sweet after, so Nina and I searched for a Pinkberry for some fro-yo. Instead, we stumbled upon a 16 Handles. I’ve heard great things about this place, so we opted for it instead. We were impressed! I had a medium mix of peanut butter, chocolate and berry medley with an assortment of fruit, brownie bites and Reese’s Pieces on top.

Mine's the bigger one, of course.

It hit the spot.

Now I’m back at Nina’s apartment, relaxing for another hour or so before I have to catch a bus back to upstate New York. I’m still on cloud nine, so I’m not sure how much homework I’m going to get finished. But hey, at least I have a shiny medal. Don’t be surprised if I sport it all week long.

Did anyone else run the race this weekend? What did you think?

Race Day is (Almost) Here!

Sorry I’ve been absent this week, guys, but this week has been ridiculously busy as I tried to wrap everything up, get plenty of rest and prep for tomorrow’s race.

That’s right, it’s race day tomorrow! Can you believe how fast the last 10 weeks raced (pun!) by? I sure can’t. Just a short time ago I was only running two, three or four miles at a time, and now I’m gearing up for 13.1 — crazy!

The last few days have been quite the whirlwind, too. I hopped on a bus super-late Thursday night (or really early Friday morning, depending on how you want to look at it) to head to NYC, getting into Manhattan around 6:30a.m. Jumping on the subway after grabbing my bag, I made my way to Astoria to stay with my friend Nina for the weekend. Thanks for housing me, Nina!

After a quick shower, I spent the day in various meetings, then met up with Nina and some of her work friends for dinner. I made sure to stop at the health expo though, where I caught up with some of my favorite FITNESS editors and snagged some Clif shot bloks for race day.

Black cherry = yum!

I went to bed shortly after we got home, snagging nine hours of fabulous shut-eye. When I woke up Saturday morning, another whirlwind day awaited me. A quickie breakfast and beautiful two-mile run in Astoria Park were the first on my to-do list.

The weather was gorgeous!

I love that I could see Manhattan from the track.

Can you spot me?

But I realized how much I despise the monotony of running in circles on a track. I didn’t bring my music with me either, so I tried to make this run extra fast.

Seriously, perfect running weather.

Nina and I had an appointment to look at apartments for when I make the big move to NYC, so we walked over there after my run. We looked at a few apartments and I found one I really like! We’ll have to see if the other roomies are on board before we sign any paperwork. I’ll keep you posted!

We snagged a quickie lunch back at the apartment before heading back to the health expo. I was able to chat with more of the FITNESS editors, shop around, and Nina snagged a savvy EFX balance bracelet.

The sign she's making me is in the background!

Next up was the runner’s dinner at B.B. King’s in Times Square, which was amazing. The food was phenomenal and the camaraderie among all of the women there was pretty awesome.

We got a fancy sign outside of B.B. Kings.

I had salad,  pasta, veggies, lasagna, chicken, a roll and a small piece of a brownie. I fully believe in having a little bit of everything.

Deliciousness.

Yeah, I’m officially carb-loaded.

After a long day of walking, Nina and I were pretty tuckered out, so we headed back home. Now I’m in my comfy sweats and have all of my clothes out and ready for race day.

Layered up.

And all of my electronics are plugged in, ready for the morning.

Ready to go!

I’m going to fit in a good stretch session before heading off to bed. I’ll be hitting the pillow super-early tonight to make sure I get plenty of rest before my 5:00 a.m. alarm sounds off.

I’ll be sure to update y’all before the end of the day tomorrow, but I’ll tweet my race time as soon as I’m finished 🙂

See you after the race!