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Painting Like a Pro

First of all, thank you so much for your great comments and advice concerning my last post about getting back on track with food! It feels good to know I’m not the only one who has slip-ups here and there, plus y’all have some great tips!

I do want to clarify quickly though that I am not binge-eating when I talk about getting off track. I still eat proper portion sizes, I just haven’t made the best decisions when choosing which meals I’m going to have. For example, instead of having an adequate lunch during the last two weeks, I’d eat something super-small, be starving later, and go for whatever craving I saw first. Either way, I just thought I’d clear that up quickly because I’m proud of the portion control I’ve been able to instill in myself when it comes to indulgences. I fully believe in an “everything in moderation” policy when it comes to food, I just needed to scale back to proper moderation.

In other news, today has been a great Friday! I kicked things off with a delicious breakfast.

Rather tasty breakfast.

For some reason I was craving eggs today, but the thought of two didn’t sound appetizing. Weird, right? I went with it though and cooked up one egg to enjoy alongside a whole wheat English muffin (small smear of Smart Balance buttery spread) and a huge orange. Yum!

I perused the blog-o-sphere while I waited for my stomach to digest my breakfast, then laced up my sneaks and headed out for the run. The weather was perfect – not too hot or cold — because a thunderstorm was making its way into town. I love running right before and after a rain storm. The weather just always feels perfect to me.

Anyway, my run was phenomenal! I had my Garmin on but decided to ignore it after I hit the one-mile mark. My body felt amazing, my legs were fresh and my breathing was in a great pattern. I didn’t want to do anything to screw it up, so I just kept movin’ and groovin’ to the music pumping through my earbuds. I didn’t focus on running fast, I just wanted to run!

This run felt great.

I ended up completing 4.2 miles. I would’ve liked to hit five miles, and I know my body was up for it, but well, nature called. I couldn’t wait any longer, so I took a short cut home. I was a little slower than I usually am on my runs, but like I said, I just wanted to keep moving and didn’t focus on time at all. I felt so great afterward!

After a long stretch, a quick shower and getting ready for work, it was time for lunch!

An odd mix, but it works.

I had two pieces of leftover grilled chicken from last night’s dinner, a large banana and a bag of 15 pretzels. I ended up being full after the chicken and banana, so I saved the pretzels and noshed on them later in the day (hence the plastic baggie). I also ate an apple, which snuck by photography.

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work I go went. I’ve been working for Liz’s aunt the last two weeks to help get their house ready to sell. Which basically means I have become a painting pro. I painted their downstairs bathroom and am working on their upstairs bathroom. They had some pretty funky wallpaper in each room beforehand, so it’s taking awhile to make sure everything’s pretty. Not to toot my own horn, but the first bathroom came out pretty spiffy!

Sally loves sea shells down by the sea shore...

They were going for a beach theme. Cute, right?

Mellow yellow.

If anyone needs a room painted, I’m your girl 😉

This is what the upstairs bathroom looked like before I started finished putting two coats of white primer on it.

Yucky brown.

And this is me after a long day of painting.

Hot, sweaty mess.

The lighting in this whole room is funky right now, but I can assure you that this room is now obnoxiously white! Don’t worry, it’ll be green after.

Did you know that painting can be an awesome workout? I’ve done a ton of calf raises in the last week, not to mention squats and plenty of work with my arms raised above my head. I was constantly moving every day for four to six hours at a time. Feel the burn!

Speaking of moving around for long spurts of time, tomorrow is another Relay for Life! I’m participating in the community Relay at a local high school track with my whole family. I’ve never been a part of a community Relay, only the ones at my college, so this will be interesting! I have to be there at 9 a.m. and will be there until noon on Sunday (yes, over 24 hours of walking), so I probably won’t be able to post. I’m walking for a cure, baby!

All of the fam except brother Justin at Relay 2010.

I will make sure to update you on the event though, as well as give you the full story about why Relay is so important to me. If you feel moved to donate to the American Cancer Society (for a tax-deductible donation), please feel free to access my mom’s fundraising page. I don’t have my own set up for this Relay because I raised $526 for my other Relay for Life and well, I think I’ve tapped everyone out this year. But if you’re feeling generous, my whole family really appreciates it! Fighting cancer is really important to all of us.

With my college roomie Meghan at Relay 2009.

Have a great weekend!

What unconventional workouts do you love? Have you participated in a Relay for Life this year, or ever? 

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?

Hitting Your Stride

When I was running my final long run, something different happened. Something that had never happened to me before. I hit what runners always call “my stride.”

From what I’ve learned, hitting your stride is when your body reaches a “relaxed” state when exercising, where tension is controlled so that you don’t get tired too quickly. People often describe it as being “in the zone,” when there are no other distractions and you just keep running. The pain isn’t unbearable or uncomfortable, and your breathing is regulated.

Based on my experiences with running, I started to doubt that this “stride” actually existed. I don’t know about you, but when I run, it hurts. Sure, I feel great after I do it (I’m a “hurt so good” kind of gal), but during the run I often have to distract myself in a variety of ways so I’m not focusing on the pain.

This was not the case during my 11-mile trek. As I moved along, the pain in my legs slowly started to subside and I found myself able to focus on the movement of my body and the flow of my breathing. By the time I hit mile six, I realized that my breathing felt normal, just like it does when I’m not working out.

I was stunned.

Re-enactment of my stunned face.

“How could my breathing be this normal when I’m running 11 miles?!”

This thought ran through my head about a dozen times before it really sank in. Once it registered, I just wanted to dance! I couldn’t stop smiling and I’m pretty sure some of my neighbors thought I was crazy. I could talk (choppily, mind you) and my legs just kept moving without any recognition of the pain of such a high distance.

I think one of the reasons I hadn’t hit my stride before was because I was so focused on achieving it. I always tried to be mentally aware of this state of running because so many runners talked about it. Why couldn’t I have it? Many note that they hit their stride around mile five, so every time I would pass that marker, I’d get frustrated. This added more tension to my body, so it makes sense that I couldn’t hit my stride before. Once I relaxed, it finally settled in. It didn’t hit me until mile six, so it’s different for everyone.

Basically, my point is this: if you haven’t hit your stride yet, don’t worry. Just keep trekking along because it will happen eventually. At least, that’s what happened to me. I relaxed my body and kept moving, and then it happened. It may come out of nowhere, but you’ll realize it when it does.

Here’s a great article on rhythm and running from Running Mechanics to help you learn more about hitting your own stride, so you can prep for it a bit more than I did and maybe avoid the shocked face.

How did you feel the first time you hit your stride?

Enjoying My Fit-cation

Hola, readers! I know I’ve been absent over the last 13 days (yikes!), but I have a good reason, I swear. I was in beautiful, sunny, amazing Key West, Fla. enjoying my last spring break with my future roommates!

We all say hi!

I was determined to make this last spring break one to remember and I don’t think I could have done any better than hanging out with these two fabulous ladies. Libby and I are from upstate New York and were anxious to escape the frigid weather, while Victoria is from Key West and was coming back from her spring break in Puerto Rico (lucky!). Our dates crossed, so Libby and I packed our bags and headed South for a few glorious days of fun in the sun.

However, I’m still training for my half-marathon, so I knew I was going to keep up my running while I was down there. Lucky for me though, I have two fantastic friends who helped me squeeze in fitness throughout the entire trip.

I woke up on Saturday while the others snoozed and hit the ground running. I only had three miles on my schedule that day, so I was anxious to get it over with and enjoy the rest of the day. Plus, I didn’t want to run when it was super hot out for fear of the rays tuckering me out too soon. I was able to enjoy views like this:

I'm in love with water, so this view is amazing.

And this…

Love, love, love.

Victoria’s mom had a genius idea on Sunday — biking! We all hopped on old-school bikes and went five miles around the island, just exploring and enjoying the views. It was a fit adventure we all experienced together, so it was a win in my book!

Soakin' in some good ole' vitamin D.

Libby and I said goodbye to Victoria on Sunday because she had to head back to school, but not before she introduced us to some fabulous food from her Cuban heritage. Make sure you have a napkin nearby because you may start drooling.

Guava pastries, meat turnovers and potato balls, oh my!

She also told us to make sure we sampled some conch fritters before we left. Taking her suggestion, Libby and I stopped by The Conch Shack, where Victoria was the very first customer. Yes, this food is fried, but it was so darn delicious!

Nom, nom, nom.

Libby and I went back for seconds a few days later. They were so darn delicious!

Deliciousness.

Alright, back to fitness. On Monday, Libby and I woke up early to experience parasailing! I had gone once before, but was never dipped in the water. Libby had never been, so I knew right away it was something we needed to do. And for the low price of $29, why not?

Up, up and away!

This doesn’t really count as exercise, but I thought the pictures were awesome and I wanted to share with y’all.

About to get dunked.

However, I must brag a bit because our instructor told us that he hadn’t seen such a smooth, solid return landing in a very long time. Thank you, strong legs!

Coming in for a landing.

Afterward, I planned on running, but Victoria’s grandpa came to visit and brought along a surprise — free access to a snorkeling adventure! There wasn’t much time before the boat left, so we grabbed our stuff and hustled out there. It took us an hour to travel out to the marine reservation, but then we jumped right in and swam with the fishies for an hour. It was an amazing experience and I loved seeing all the cool coral underwater. Afterward, we were treated to margaritas. Score!

I won't say no to a free drink in beautiful sunshine.

Tuesday was our last day in the Southernmost City, but that didn’t stop Libby and I from getting our sweat on. I ran four miles in the morning, then Libby and I hopped on bikes again and rode downtown to fit in all of our tourist-y adventures. First up, the Southernmost Point, of course!

Mile zero.

We also hit up the Hemingway Home. All of my journalism, creative writing and literature professors should be proud.

Fun fact: Hemingway loved his cats.

Then we walked all over downtown, squeezing in about five miles before biking back to the house. ‘Twas a good day!

Unfortunately, we had to leave the glorious warm weather and return to the much colder New York. Luckily, spring is almost here. It was 55 degrees the other day and today it reached 35…woohoo! I’ve been spending a lot of time with my family and some friends from high school during the second half of my vacation. But I’ve kept up my running — I did my last long run today (post about that coming soon)!

Now I’m nestled back in Oswego and prepping for my busy work week. Time to tackle some homework!

If you’re still in school, how did you spend your spring break? If not, what’s a favorite memory from one of your vacations? I’m going to remember this one forever!


Life Despite Ed: My Mind is Half the Battle

Here at The Pulse, I encourage exercise and nutrition that keeps you healthy in mind, body and spirit. Unfortunately, sometimes a need for control pushes someone to an unhealthy state because the body is one thing that can be controlled. Mike Kraft, 20, is a student at Oswego State who has struggled with anorexia, and he realized that it’s about much more than physical control. Read about his journey here and support him in the fight to regain control of his mind, body and spirit.

My name is Mike Kraft and I have suffered from an eating disorder for the past five years.

Don’t worry, I’ve already come to grips with that unsettling fact, so this isn’t a form of confession. I accepted that there was something wrong when I checked into an eating disorder help program in 2009 at the University of Rochester Medical Center at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y.

I’m also not here to make you feel sorry for me because there are hundreds of thousands of other people out there who suffer from eating disorders. Instead, I’m here to say that eating disorders are more painful on the mental side than the physical side, even though that’s all anyone sees.

No one knows you more than yourself, which is why those who don’t suffer from an eating disorder can’t wrap their minds around how people succumb to one. Well, it’s not by choice. An eating disorder is much like any other addiction; it always has some form of control and never truly allows you to be “healed.” Negative thoughts run through my head from time to time, but the key is to minimize these thought processes and focus on being healthy.

Perhaps the worst form of negativity comes from those I’m surrounded by. A simple comment like, “go eat a sandwich,” or “you’re all skin and bones” had devastating consequences on me. I felt horrible about myself and sank into a depression – anorexia’s best friend. I believed that I was imperfect and worthless; the only thing I was good at was being skinny. So I did everything in my power to remain skinny: starve, over-exercise and vomit.

Surround yourself with friends who help, not harm.

Even after treatment, when everything appears to be back to normal, the battle is never truly over. I suffered from this for so long that it becomes a part of my lifestyle, and I was confused when I had to battle against it. It was normal for me to eat one meal a day, so bumping it up to three was a challenge. I fight every day to be healthy because like I said, it’s never over. At any moment anorexia can rear its ugly head back and I’m no longer in recovery.

I’ve been recovered for about a year now, but I still attend monthly psychiatric therapy and wonder “what if.” What if I didn’t have an eating disorder? Would I have more friends? Would I have a girlfriend? Would I be happier? I will never be able to answer these questions, which is frustrating. There are times when I blame my eating disorder for the horrible things that have happened in my life, but I know that’s not right. I’ve blamed my eating disorder for being depressed, for being alone on a Saturday night, for a girl not liking me back. I’m not sure that I’ll ever be satisfied with the way I look, or if I’ll ever be able to stop these thought processes. But it’s a daily battle I’m ready to face. My life is too important not to.

– Post written by Mike Kraft and edited by Samantha Shelton