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Bust the Rut

So it’s pretty obvious that I fell off the blogging wagon last week.

Actually, let me correct that. I didn’t fall off the blogging wagon. I jumped off.

But don’t worry, I knew I’d get back on! I just needed a breather. Things were getting extremely overwhelming in Samantha-land (yes, it exists), and I really just needed to take a step back from a lot of things and re-evaluate what was really important to me.

What did I come up with? A few things, actually.

My job. I love my job so, so much. I love going into the office every day and performing the day-to-day tasks that are required for FITNESS to be successful. I work with great people, I research fascinating subject matter that truly matters to me, and I get to connect with millions of people. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Running. This is another thing I took a break from. If you’ve checked out my DailyMile profile recently, you can see that I skidded into quite a workout halt. I could feel myself getting burnt out a few weeks before the race, but told myself to power through and finish strong. I’m so glad I did. Then I gave myself a week off, telling myself I’d jump right back into it. I should have known better — it’s always ten times harder to get back into it when I take a break.

But I knew exactly what would get me back in the groove — the New York City Marathon. Obviously, basically everyone knows it happened yesterday. It was phenomenal. Beautiful. Unbelievably inspirational. I’ve read so many race recaps today it’s not even funny. Dustin went with me to watch at mile 24 and it was so fun cheering for everyone.

Three of my co-workers, Betty, John and Jenna, dominated and a ton of blogging friends conquered the 26.2 epicness that is NYCM. It was the perfect kick in the butt to get me back into my sneakers this morning and ready to pound the pavement. Three other co-workers have already made a pact with me to run the marathon next year. Let the countdown begin!

I want to be like Mike Spidey.

Blogging. This little space on the Internet has come to mean so much to me. Yes, I took a week off, but I have been itching to be back for days. So why didn’t you blog when you wanted to, Samantha? Because I told myself at the beginning of the week I would take a full week off to really evaluate what was important to me. Could I live without blogging? Was it unnecessary pressure I was adding to myself? Would shutting down my page be in everyone’s best interests?

Turns out the answer to all of those questions is a big fat NO. Although I wasn’t actively blogging myself, I was reading nonstop, dreaming up future posts, taking pictures, and thinking about what I would do once I got back to blogging. I realized that this really has become a huge passion of mine and I’m not willing to give it up. Nor do I have to. I just need to play around with my schedule and really nail down something that works for me. I know I’ve been saying that for a few months now, and I don’t know if you’ve even noticed, but I’ve toyed with different schedules and am slowly figuring out what works for me. I’m really hoping to find a long-term solution sometime soon.

But ya know what was the best part of the week-long blogging hiatus? Realizing how many of you actually read and care about my blog. That means so much to me. I had so many Facebook messages, comments, tweets and e-mails flood in throughout the week, wondering if I was alright and when I was going to be back. People telling me they missed me and were (im)patiently awaiting my return. Compliments from people I know and people I haven’t met IRL (in real life) yet. It truly means the world to me. I know I don’t have a ginormous following, but every single person reading this blog means something to me. It truly blows my mind that people take a few minutes out of their day to read my words simply because they want to. Thank you.

Food. More specifically, healthy food. I’ve come to realize that living with a boy is hard when it comes to food. They eat more, which makes you want to eat more, and they don’t always eat super-healthy because well, their metabolism can handle it. At least Dustin’s can. Dustin doesn’t work out nearly as much as I do, yet he still rocks a six-pack and can run faster than me (I hate him a little bit for that). So after San Francisco, I gave in to his cravings and basically ate whatever he decided to whip up. Half of it was healthy, half of it not so much.

Fortunately, we sat down this weekend and re-evaluated our goals to get back on the healthy living bandwagon. Because in the end, when I eat like crap, I feel like crap. Sure, it satisfies all of my cravings in the moment, but it only lasts for about 2.5 seconds before the next one hits. That’s a quick recipe for disaster. I’d much rather have a recipe like Monica’s tortilla soup, which I happened to feast on tonight.

That is one hearty, filling soup. Low-sodium chicken broth, shredded chicken breast, salsa (next time we’re just going to cut up a ton of tomatoes, I think), black beans, corn, a few tortilla chips and a sprinkle of shredded cheese. Unbelievably easy and incredibly delicious. Win.

Overall, I think the break was a much-needed step back to really think about my life and where I want it to go. I have a lot of things on my plate, yes, but they’re all things that I love 100 percent. I’m officially back on the wagon, I’ve busted through the rut and am ready to soar with flying colors (enough cliches for ya there?). Thanks for sticking around, I promise it’ll be well worth it 🙂

 

 

pssst! Fun goodies coming your way tomorrow, so stay tuned!

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Food Survey

It’s time for another fun survey here on Check My Pulse! I originally saw this on Matt’s blog over at The Athlete’s Plate, but I also hopped over to Cait’s blog at Beyond Bananas and saw her version, too. Turns out, all three of us have a lot in common. I love surveys, and for some reason I really love surveys that incorporate the alphabet.

So let’s get on with the show!

Apples or oranges?

Hands down, apples wins this contest! I have to be in the right mood for an orange, but I’ll gobble up an apple the second you put it in front of me. Plus it keeps the doctor away, the rhyme says so.

Beans or lentils?

Beans! I like basically any type of bean. Chick peas, kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, whatever. They’re all yummy in my book.

Cereal or oatmeal?

Oatmeal wins this round. I never get sick of it, but I get tired of cereal from time to time. Both are delicious, but I love me some oats.

Dates or raisins?

I’m gonna have to go with raisins on this one, but only because I’ve never actually had a date. (A joke could be made here about my romantic life, I’m well aware of this 😉 )

Eggs or milk?

Eggs, please! I love egg sandwiches, dippy eggs, eggs in salad, etc. I. Love. Eggs.

French toast or waffles?

French toast. Particularly peanut butter french toast. Mmmmm.

Garlic or salt?

I don’t really use salt when I cook and I don’t like overly salty foods, so I’m gonna have to go with garlic on this one. And I love garlic bread!

Honey or maple syrup?

Honey! I love putting it in my tea and sweetening up things with the stuff. Did you know my uncle used to be a bee keeper? Fun little fact for ya.

Ice cream or frozen yogurt?

Umm, is this a serious question? FROZEN YOGURT! Have you not seen my abundant love for 16 Handles, along with other fabulous fro-yo shops?

Jam or toast?

Toast wins this one. I love a good, homemade jam (my stepdad whipped up some fresh batches today, actually!), but I’m a sucker for bread. I make toast with peanut butter quite frequently.

Kale or spinach?

I’ll usually choose spinach if given the two options, but I do like kale once in a while. My roommate, Victoria, keeps making kale chips to find the perfect balance of ingredients with them, and they’re getting mighty delicious!

Lemon or lime?

Lemon makes an appearance in my diet more often. The only time lime really does is if I’m drinking a margarita…

Muffins or cupcakes?

Cupcakes win, 100 percent. I don’t like huge, heavy ones though. But give me something with either peanut butter, chocolate, or red velvet and I’m yours. I’m actually not really a fan of muffins.

Nut butter or jelly?

Again, is this a serious question? Jelly doesn’t even stand a chance. I have peanut butter every. single. day. I love almond and other nut butters as well, but peanut butter will always hold the number one spot in my heart.

Onions or peppers?

Blech, both of these are not ideal choices. But peppers win because I absolutely cannot STAND the taste of raw onions. Whenever Dustin doesn’t want to share food with me, he purposely puts onions in it because he knows I won’t eat it…what a meanie.

Peanuts or almonds?

In solid form, almonds win. In butter form, peanuts. Duh.

Quick bread or yeast bread?

I honestly can’t even tell you the difference between the two. Oops.

Raspberry or blackberry?

I love them both! But I think blackberries have a slight edge over the raspberries. I don’t know why. They both taste good. Declare it a tie?

Sweet or savory?

Most of the time, the answer is sweet. This girl needs her chocolate fix!

Tea or coffee?

Coffee = gross. Chai tea = freakin’ phenomenal.

Udon or spaghetti noodles?

I’ve never used Udon noodles, so I can’t really judge. I love pasta though, so it’s time to check it out!

Vanilla or chocolate?

Uhh, chocolate. Every time. No doubt about it.

Whole wheat or white bread?

Whole wheat. I can’t stand the taste of white bread. Mama raised me right 🙂

Xanthum gum or guar gum?

I prefer xanthum, but don’t have anything against guar.

Yogurt or pudding?

Greek yogurt! I usually eat one every day.

Zucchini or cucumber?

I can’t stand the taste of zucchini. But I sure do love cucumbers!

Your turn! Pick a letter (or five) and answer in the comments. Or if you do this survey yourself, post a link in the comments!

Getting Back on Track with Food

Whenever I would train a client back at college, they would almost always ask me for tips about what to eat. At least, those who were serious about reaching their goals did. My answer?

“You can’t out-train bad nutrition.”

You can work out all you want, but if you don’t have proper nutrition to go with it, you’re not going to reach healthy results.

I know this, yet sometimes I fall off the wagon.

For the past two weeks, I haven’t been eating all that great. It’s not that I couldn’t, I just took the easy route and ate whatever was lying around. If it was already sitting there, I’d grab it and go. No point in cooking then, right?

Wrong.

I’ve learned a lot in the past few weeks. Even though I haven’t been making the best decisions food-wise, I’ve been aware of each choice I made. Each bowl of ice cream I had, each handful of Hershey Kisses I munched on and each time I went out with friends for drinks and appetizers at a bar or restaurant, I recognized exactly what I was doing. I told myself, “I’m moving and don’t know when I’m going to see these people again so I need to enjoy it!”

While my excuse makes sense, that doesn’t mean I have to sabotage my diet. And when I say diet, it simply means the foods I choose to put in my body. I’m not a believer in the generic definition that is associated with “diet.” Instead, I believe that a healthy diet is simply a way of living. I eat fruits and vegetables because they make me look and feel great, while greasy foods make me feel lethargic and disgusting afterward (not to mention they make my skin break out like crazy).

I’ve also learned that I really need to plan out my meals. When I grab food on a whim is when I’m in trouble simply because I don’t like to cook. Don’t get me wrong, I can cook, I just hate doing it. It bores me to tears, so I avoid it whenever possible (I’m so lucky that Dustin is a great cook). I also need to avoid snacking at night. I’m really good about the food I put in my body throughout the whole day, especially when I plan things out. But when it’s nighttime and I don’t have anything going on, I start munching. And it’s never on anything healthy.

So I’m turning to you guys for support and advice. What are some of your food traps? And how do you avoid them? Any tips on how to beat mine? 

Continuing with my recent theme of change, I jump started my day with a yummy breakfast to help get me back on track. For breakfast, I gnawed on half of a banana and then slurped down a bowl of Special K corn flakes with one percent milk and the other half of that banana.

Yum.

I worked straight through lunch today because I was painting at work (oops), but made sure to grab a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread once I got home. I was craving something else after the sandwich, but instead of reaching for my mom’s basket of Hershey Kisses like I usually do, I peeled an orange and gobbled that up instead.

I wish I lived in Florida just for the fresh oranges.

My mom whipped up a delicious dinner a few hours later — chicken salad! Mine was filled with lettuce, cucumbers, egg, grilled barbecue chicken, a small amount of cheddar cheese (my weakness) and a drizzle of Italian dressing.

Delicious.

So good and an excellent, light summer meal! The only thing it was missing was some fresh tomato.

The only hard part right now about planning out my meals is that I don’t have access to things that I normally eat, like Greek yogurt, almond milk, oats and my daily creation of smoothies. Don’t get me wrong, my family still eats pretty healthy, but they don’t have some of the staples that I usually shop for. I would go buy them myself, but I’m trying to save money before I move. I’m very grateful that my parents are feeding me for free!

Regardless, I’m determined to get back on track!

What tips do you have for me? And has anyone else fallen off the wagon lately? 

Learning from November’s Magazines

As an obsessed magazine subscriber and purchaser, I constantly forage through as many as I can get my hands on to study layout, design, and of course, look for good content. While  I read about 15 different titles a month, there are a few favorites that I always make sure to read cover-to-cover. Of course, they’re all health and fitness related! So, what did we learn this month? Here are three top things I picked up, one from each issue.

1. We have the right to bare arms.

If you couldn’t tell yet, I’m a huge fan of Bob Harper, a personal trainer on The Biggest Loser. I love his personality, the way he connects with clients, and the workouts are sheer torture. I have all of his latest workout DVDs and each one is a doozy. FITNESS created an awesome upper body workout from various moves on Bob’s DVDs, and many of them I never would’ve thought of doing on my own. I’ve done it myself a few times and ran my clients through it, and so far they all love it! No hiding my arms in bulky sweaters this winter!

Added bonus: FITNESS’ Karla Walsh interviewed Bob to get the scoop on his vegan lifestyle and shared healthy eating tips with us!

2. The average smoker inhales 425 cigarettes a month, according to Self.

Wow. And ew. That’s all I can really say. Luckily, Self had a lot more to say. Catherine Ryan wrote a great article that digs into a person’s “smoking personality,” gave them tips to quit, and provided some myth busters. Did you know that the average smoker spends $1,408 a year on smoking? In today’s economy, the cost of cigarettes alone should be reason enough to quit.

Self also gave 10 reasons to quit, most of which I didn’t know before. If you don’t want to quit for you, do it for your favorite pets! Secondhand smoke can lead to them developing cancer. Want to have kids someday? Smokers have a greater risk for infertility. This article is full of interesting information — I immediately texted my smoker friends and told them to go buy it.

3. The average supermarket carries 46,852 items, and Women’s Health scoured the aisles to find 125 of the best packaged food for women. Now I don’t have to search through everything! I don’t know about you, but I hate the fact that grocery shopping takes me about two hours to complete whenever I’m buying a lot of stuff. There are so many labels to read and prices to compare. And I’m still a college student — I have homework to finish, meetings to attend, and work to do! Women’s Health did a great job of narrowing things down for me so I know which packages to not even give a second glance.

The categories are broken into “sweets & treats,” “breads & cereals,” “condiments,” “pasta & rice,” “snacks, crackers & chips,” “frozen meals,” “drinks,” “fruits & veggies,” “soups,” “dairy,” and “meat & seafood.” Phew, I think they’ve got it all covered! I’m not going to list everything they have, but let me just say, I’m glad they have Emerald’s Trail Mix – Tropical Blend and Campbell’s Select Harvest Light Italian-Style Vegetable Soup — they’re both staples in my house. Now that I have this list, I bet I’ll be able to transition my boyfriend over to some healthier meals!

Each magazine has a ton of other great articles (FITNESS’ “Power Surge,” Self‘s “Lose weight like a guy” and Women’s Health‘s “Is your health on the line?”), so make sure you go out and snag a copy!

Have you read these issues yet? What did you like about them?

Temptations Begin on The Biggest Loser

Chocolate Sundae cupcake from Crumbs Bake Shop

 The stakes are rising on The Biggest Loser and temptations have been presented to the contestants. If you haven’t seen previous seasons, temptations are an optional challenge that involve food and allow the players to opt into game play. However, every contestant is allowed to decide whether they want to play. If they do decide to play and they win, a source of power is granted to them, such as immunity or a one-pound advantage at the weigh-in.

For the first temptation of the season, the players were offered cupcakes. But they weren’t boring chocolate or vanilla cupcakes that don’t really entice anyone. No, there were about 400 cupcakes of various sizes, colors and decorations. I’m not a huge fan of cupcakes and  even I thought these looked delicious, much like the ones from Crumbs Bake Shop (Warning: If you are ever near a Crumbs, walk quickly in the other direction because once you have one it is difficult to resist the rest because they are all different and delectable!)

Adam, Rick, Jesse and Elizabeth played in the temptation. Adam and Rick competed closely with one another, but Adam won out in the end. Unfortunately, his victory was earned to the tune of 1,350 calories (only three cupcakes!). He still has his one-pound advantage disc, so it will be interesting to see how long he hangs on to it!

With temptations comes more game play on The Biggest Loser. After Adam won, Brendan Donovan, 32, made it his mission to put a target on Adam’s back and side as many people as he could against him. He pressured Ada Wong, 27, into a pact to vote Adam off the show once he falls below the line. Donovan also brought three others into the pact, convincing them that Adam will have too much power if they don’t get rid of him. 

Brendan wants to eliminate Adam right away.

Now, I understand game play is a part of the show and it’s automatically integrated when there is $250,000 on the line, but come on! Leave the guy alone, he busts his butt in the gym and is terrified he’s going to die like his mom. If he deserves to be there and he’s losing weight, then don’t get rid of him because you’re scared. Man up and have a higher percentage of weight loss than him. Simple as that.

It’ll be interesting to see what other temptations The Biggest Loser producers throw at the contestants. What’s the hardest temptation for you to turn down?