Running in the City of Brotherly Love (and Sisterly Affection)

On Saturday I ran my first half marathon, the Dietz and Watson Philadelphia Half Marathon. Not only was it my first race of that distance, it was also my first run of that distance, and I’m so glad I chose my new home as the setting.

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For a less blurry version, click the word “course” below

The course was fantastic. The hills were few and far between, and we got to see so many of the city’s unique neighborhoods. People lined the streets with signs and noisemakers to cheer on the runners, and it truly invigorated both my soul and my body. Some fans would even read my name on my bib and shout, “Go, Emily!” My favorite fans by far though were my dad and sister, who were waiting about half a mile from the finish line. Seeing them gave me just the adrenaline boost I needed to make that last stretch my fastest. The Gatorade jelly at mile 11 probably helped, too.

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As for my time, I had set a goal of finishing within two hours, which is just over nine minutes per mile. During my training though, I realized this was a modest goal. My average speed, even for 8, 9, 10-mile runs was trending higher and higher, and it seemed the colder it was, the faster I ran. So crushing my initial goal on race day was exciting, but not unexpected. My official finish time was 1:52:50, or 8:36 per mile. At most points during the race, I felt like I was flying. Between the competition and the cheering fans, I was motivated to push my body harder than ever before. My mantra was if it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you, which I read on a middle-aged female runner’s t-shirt a month or so ago. I have been changed (for good. . . Wicked, anybody?) and now I’m on a quest to find my next challenge!

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My friend Maddie and me with the so-called Revolutionary Runner after the race

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Animal Crackers

I did something today I don’t think I’ve done since before my Whole30. I snacked between breakfast and lunch. The worst part about it is I bought something from the vending machine at work with very little, if any, nutritional value. Animal crackers.pic

I figured they would do less harm than a bag of greasy chips or empty carb pretzels. I haven’t restocked my desk drawer with healthy snacks yet, and I got hungry a good two hours before I planned on taking my lunch break. I’ll chalk it up to an earlier than usual breakfast and one that contained less protein than it should have. I had sweet potato toast topped with a single egg, strawberries and almond butter. I should’ve added the salami like I’d originally intended. I have to remember that my Whole30 breakfasts always kept me full until lunch, whereas what I ate before the Whole30 usually did not, most likely because of minimal protein.

 

Whole30 Day 30

Well folks, I think it’s quite ironic that on my last day of the Whole30 I felt bloated for most of the day and had a myriad of zits on my face, but así es la vida, as my high school Spanish teacher used to say. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence. After all, neither of those symptoms is something I’ve struggled with before or during the Whole30.

But enough “oh woe is me;” I did it! I went 30 days without consuming any grains, dairy, legumes, alcohol or added sugar! I didn’t doubt that I could do it, but I’m proud of myself nonetheless. I really didn’t even miss the things I couldn’t have too much, which is good considering I still have a 10-day reintroduction period ahead of me.

As has been a recurring theme with my recent posts, I don’t feel all that different than I did before I started the Whole30. I’ll spend tomorrow taking inventory of any non-scale victories and weigh myself to see if there’s been a change there. But if you remember, what I was most hoping to take away from this is something I can’t test until I regain my food freedom. Once my reintroduction is complete and I can eat whatever my heart and tummy desire, I’m immensely curious to see which foods I gravitate toward.

More than anything else, this experience has taught me how to know the difference between hunger and cravings. If I feel like eating something but the thought of having, say, chicken and vegetables doesn’t sound satisfying, it’s probably a craving and will pass. If I determine I’m truly hungry I should opt for a mini meal that contains at least two of the three macronutrients (protein, fat and carbs).

Thanks to the Whole30, I’ve gained a new, healthier relationship with what I put in my body, and I hope it lasts well beyond the 30 days it took to acquire.

Celebrating Two Weeks With… Chips and Pie?

Today marked two weeks since I started my Whole30, and it was notable for several reasons. Around the two-week mark is when most people doing a Whole30 start to feel the negative side effects subside, and when I woke up this morning I felt more refreshed than I have in a long time. Despite having difficulty falling asleep last night (thanks to a late afternoon coffee), the second my alarm went off at 6:45, I was alert and ready to start my day.

An even more fascinating phenomenon that occurred, and another that is common around this time for Whole30ers, is I had my first dream about off-limit foods! If I weren’t doing the Whole30 it would have been inconsequential. I dreamed I was eating Fritos and dunking them in assorted dips. It’s bizarre because I can’t even tell you the last time I ate Fritos (why choose Fritos over Cheetos?) and because my friend Taylor told me a few days ago that when she did her first Whole30 she dreamed about DORITOS, which she rarely eats! Anyhoo, I viewed this dream as a rite of passage, and I hope tonight brings something sickeningly sweet to my dream tummy.

My tummy IRL is happy because I made pie tonight… shepherd’s pie, that is. The recipe comes straight from the Whole30 book, but I’m going to repost it here. I can’t say I’ve eaten a lot of shepherd’s pie in my life, but I was drawn to this recipe because it’s a one-pot meal and because I haven’t yet used ground beef as my protein source on the Whole30.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and large-diced
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 4 tablespoons clarified butter or ghee (the ghee I used has coconut oil in it)
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped (I plan to use two next time to double the vegetable count)
  • 1 pound ground meat (I used beef)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme (or use a sprig of fresh thyme, but I didn’t)
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano (or use 2 teaspoons fresh oregano, but ditto)

 

Ok, I decided I’m not going to post the recipe because it’s a lot to type, and my “L” and period keys are broken. That being said, if you want the recipe or want to fix my broken keys, just comment below or send me a message.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4: Don’t Worry, I Won’t Kill You

You guys. The support I’ve gotten in my first four days on the Whole30 has been astounding. I am blown away by the kind words my family, friends and coworkers have offered me. I’m also surprised by how not difficult (notice I didn’t say “easy”) the past few days have been. I mean, the creators of the Whole30 said days two and three I’d probably have no energy and feel woozy. Sure, Tuesday morning I could barely squeak out two miles on the treadmill before taking a break (for comparison, I average around five miles on the treadmill when winter weather keeps me from running outside), and Tuesday afternoon a dull headache set in until bedtime, but not getting a good night’s sleep has had far worse effects. I read that the negative side effects Whole30ers experience in their first few days are directly proportional to how bad their diets were before the Whole30. So I guess I should feel encouraged.

Try to keep yourselves from rolling your eyes when I say this, but I feel as though I’ve gained more on the Whole30 so far than I’ve lost, and I’m not talking about weight. Not being able to just pour myself a bowl of cereal or bring a granola bar or a yogurt to work with me has forced me to get creative with my breakfasts. As you can see, I’ve eaten a lot of eggs and sweet potatoes, but no two meals have been exactly alike. Almost all my condiments have been homemade, and I’m using more fresh herbs that I’ve ever used before. The last nonscale victory I’d like to mention is that I didn’t kill anyone today! Ok, that one needs some explanation. The Whole30 timeline states that on days four and five, most participants have a burning desire to “kill all the things.” Not me though! I’m just a ray of sunshine!

Conquering Cravings With My New Friends

I’m back! After a long absence for which I do sincerely apologize, I have returned with some exciting news. Within the next month, I plan to embark on a complete lifestyle change known as the Whole30.

In a nutshell, it’s an elimination diet that cuts out grains, dairy, legumes and added sugar for 30 days. If Melissa and Dallas (Hartwig, the founders of the program) are reading this though, they’ll scold me for calling it a diet. Because it’s so much more.

Heeding the advice of my friend Taylor, who is getting ready to do her second Whole30, yesterday I started reading two of the four books the creators have written about the program: It Starts With Food and The Whole30. I’m 60 pages into the first one and have never been more fascinated by science. Ever. The book backs up the Whole30 lifestyle with cold, hard facts; it explains how eliminating certain foods from your diet completely (no cheating!) can change your life, even if, like me, you’re pretty happy with your life already.whole-30-books

Some people choose to do the Whole30 to cure diseases or alleviate various ailments, all of which has been known to happen. There is literally a full page in The Whole30 that contains all the maladies the program has succeeded in healing. I am fortunate enough not to have any symptoms in need of attention, other than occasional migraines, but one of the selling points for me is the potential elimination of unhealthy cravings.

As the name of my blog suggests, I enjoy junk food just as much as the next person. And despite exercising every other day and counting calories most days, I can’t help but cave when someone brings donuts to the office or when my boyfriend suggests we order pizza on a Friday night. If the Whole30 does in fact allow me to conquer that penchant for what Melissa and Dallas call “food with no brakes,” I will be pleasantly amazed. At any rate, that’s one of the things I hope to take away from my 30 days.

On that note, my favorite part of It Starts With Food so far has been the explanation of why we crave certain foods even when we know they’re terrible for us. I’m going to go book report mode on you now with a quick summary that I hope you find as intriguing as I do.

Way back when cavemen roamed the earth (or maybe not cavemen but the life form that came before modern day humans), they knew to opt for sweet foods in nature rather than bitter foods, because a bitter taste indicated poison. Similarly, they knew to consume foods that tasted salty because of their ability to help conserve fluid and foods that were fatty because of their dense calorie content. So our ancestors were trained to eat things that were sweet, salty and fatty. Yum.

But fast-forward thousands of years and evil food scientists discover they can create foods that are SUPER sweet, salty and fatty, more so than anything that exists naturally. These are supernormal stimuli or Franken-foods, and it’s NOT OUR FAULT we want them so bad. As the Hartwigs write,

“These foods light up pleasure and reward centers in the brain for a different reason than nature intended – not because they provide vital nutrition, but because they are scientifically designed to stimulate our tastebuds. The effect is a total disconnection between pleasurable, rewarding tastes (sweet, fatty and salty) and the nutrition that always accompanies them in nature.”

Next time I’m tempted by food with no brakes, I’m going to stare that vanilla kreme donut square in the eye and say, “You can’t trick me! I know your secret!” And now you do, too. 🙂

(Pumpkin) Spice up Your Life

I am obsessed with pumpkin spiced everything. It has nothing to do with being “basic,” as the kids say these days, or trendy; I just love the flavor. But what I’m sure many people don’t realize is how much sugar is typically added to beverages and store-bought foods that are pumpkin-flavored. Furthermore, more often than not, these items don’t contain real pumpkin. That’s why the moment I could feel fall in the air, I went in search of some healthy pumpkin spice recipes. I present to you. . . pumpkin spiced overnight oats two ways!

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The main difference between these two recipes is that one contains Greek yogurt for added protein and creaminess. I’ll start with that one (pictured on the right).

Pumpkin Pie Protein Overnight Oats

I adapted the recipe from http://amyshealthybaking.com/blog/2015/09/02/pumpkin-pie-protein-overnight-oats/.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (120g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup (122g) pumpkin purée
  • ¼ cup (25g) old-fashioned oats
  • 1 tbsp (12g) Truvia
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon

The only change I made was using a packet of Sweet’N Low instead of the Truvia, simply because it’s what I had. All you do, as with any overnight oats recipes, is mix up all the ingredients in an airtight container with a lid and leave them in the fridge overnight.

Verdict

 

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Two paws up!

Because of the yogurt combined with the pumpkin, I found it very filling. It wasn’t very sweet, so next time I may try using vanilla Greek yogurt. Overall though, I liked it and will make again.

 

Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats

I adapted the recipe from http://rabbitfoodformybunnyteeth.com/pumpkin-pie-overnight-oats/.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ginger, and 1/8 tsp nutmeg)

I used regular skim milk because I don’t drink enough of it, fake maple syrup because it’s what I had and no chia seeds because they were too high on the shelf.

Verdict

Yum! I think this one may have been slightly sweeter, perhaps because there was no tart yogurt to take away from the pumpkininess. Because of the pumpkin pie spice, it also tasted more like pie than straight pumpkin. Would definitely make again!

So there you have it. Got other pumpkin spice recipes you think I’d enjoy? Please send them my way! I can keep eating this stuff till spring 😉