My Quasi “Cleanse”

I do not believe in fad diets or these bizarre cleanses where you drink water with lemons, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup.  Maybe its because both of my parents have food science/nutrition backgrounds, or simply because the body needs things like nutrients and calories to preform well.  As part of my “ok, lets get serious” mind-set (applicable to finally getting my home o-r-g-a-n-i-z-e-d and re-committing to cycling, running, swimming, and yoga) I wanted to jump start my eat healthy, feel healthy, be healthy mindset.

Why Quasi Cleanse?  I won’t lie.  My diet in January and February…varied from great to atrocious [and everything in between].  **Mom/Dad – shield your eyes for this part** There were days where ice cream became dinner…rice and corn became the base of my diet…and veggies…well, we were growing apart.  One benefit of eliminating gluten from my diet, it limits a lot of junk food, but there is a ton of naturally gluten-free crap out there too.  Lent helped kicked me in the bum a little – it put an end to junk food and impulsive decisions.  I wanted Lent to be more than a craving struggle, so I gave up making impulsive decisions – I highly recommend it…..Where was I? Oh yes, veggies and I were growing distant.  I didn’t return their calls, they stopped texting.  It was getting bad.  I didn’t care who started the argument, it was time to make up and get our mojo back.

The Prep:  To start, I put the cereal in the top shelves of my kitchen, threw out any remaining ice cream, and gave the kitchen a super clean.  I always find doing a deep clean helps to literally wipe the slate clean –  when you finish, I feel great and think to myself, “Ok, I can do this. Lets get started!” I broke out my Christmas present (thank you Mom and Dad) – the Vitamix blender and Costco card.  Next stop:  whole food smoothies.

The Plan:  For 10 Days – No Grains, No Meat, No Processed Food.  Limited Dairy. All Fruit and Veg.  The plan was to increase my fruit and vegetable intake by … oh … 90% or so.  The plan is pretty simple, eat tons of fresh/frozen fruit and veggies, sprinkle in some nuts and a little dairy.  The end.  Since its hard to eat a ton of fruit and veggies, I started making whole-food smoothies.  No juicing – just blending the whole food.

The Execution:  This is where Costco and Vitamixer come in.  The Vitamix (and I’m sure other strong blenders) come in handy, I can toss in carrots, spinach, oranges, whole frozen strawberries, hit blend – and I have drinkable fruit and veggies!  Its smooth and easy, fits in my Nalgene and off to work I go.  For the fruit, I have a ton of frozen fruit in my freezer – why? Its cheaper, lasts longer, and has more nutrition since frozen fruit can be picked at the height of ripeness, they generally have more nutrients in them and tastiness.  For fresh things, I have oranges, spinach, baby carrots, apples, and tomatoes on hand.  Another part of my arsenal:  pistachios, greek yogurt (beware of those with lots of added sugar), and kefir.  With running and cycling, I want to keep up with some good fat and protein.

Smoothie Happiness:  I’m including some photos of the smoothies I am making.  Some are from recipes, others I’m tossing in what might be good.  Mostly its been successful – one non-recipe experiment was a teeny bitter, but nothing some orange juice and agave syrup couldn’t fix!  Overall, I feel so much better and its been about 5 days.  Drinking whole foods, and not just juice, keep me full and happy.  My tummy feels good, my energy is up (not sure if its the diet, the kicking my bum to go running, spring weather…I guess all of the above?) and I don’t miss my old habits! (well, when my coworkers get fries, they still smell damn good).  I’m not counting the days until I’m done, and although I’m not going to eat like this for the next 365, I will definitely be keeping these smoothies as a main part of my diet in the months to come.

Photos: 

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 More to come as I make new smoothies 🙂

Here is to being happy, healthy, and energized!

Happy Trails – Caribou out.

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Step One: Lace Up Sneakers

I compromised with The Snooze Button today – I traded my cycling shoes for running shoes.  You may have noticed, but my running stats are pretty dismal for a runner, and one who is training for a marathon.  I find it very hard to psyche myself back into running, but once I’m out and moving – I love it and I don’t remember why I was so afraid to go.  Which brings me to the title.  I kept putting off the running, focusing on pilates, yoga, cycling, cleaning, reading…basically anything but running!  Having a runner partner definitely helps get your running mojo back, but that is more because you have someone holding you accountable.  To get into running, or back into running, you have to hold yourself accountable.  Not as easy as it sounds…

I won’t lie, its been hard keeping myself accountable, even with nice weather!  I’ll find a million excuses because I fear getting back on the road and not being as fast as I was, or hurting, or just having a bad run.  Well guess what self. You are going to have good runs and bad runs.  The longer you delay hitting the pavement, the slower you are going to be.  The more your feet may potentially hurt.  As much as I can channel my marine corps colleagues and friends, there is a limit to how much I can tell myself to “suck it up.”  [As an aside – tired, cold, and hungry on a glacier at 15,000 I can suck it up like a champ, convincing myself to get off the couch to run…not so much, granted you don’t have many options up so high!]

So, how do I do it?  Step One:  Put the running shoes on.  Just that one simple act of getting the shoes on and laced, it sends a message to my brain, “well, you’ve come this far, might as well run.”  Making the intention the night before and the compromise with my car this morning also helped.  And guess what!  My run was fantastic!  It was a lot slower than I ran a year ago, but I ran, no music, no chatter, just me, the monuments, sunset, and my shoes.  It was awesome.

I am going running again tomorrow after work.  I am excited to go running.

Just get those shoes on folks.  Your body will do the rest.

Happy trails!  Caribou out.

Caribou vs The Snooze Button

Caribou 1, The Snooze Button 2

….well…at least that is what I am telling myself!  I am sure the actual number of times The Snooze Button (TSB) has won out over my (lack of) will power is far higher, it most definitely was last week.  It felt like I ended up driving more than biking, although it ended up being about 50/50 when I look at the calendar.  My standard excuse for not biking the last 2 weeks was night shifts.  Yes, they are a little harder on the body and I was tired, but really it is an excuse.  Biking home at 0530 when its dark, there is headlight blindness, and you are tired and cold – its hard to get motivated to saddle up.  Biking to work can be easy, its 1600 (4pm) the sun is out, there are thoughts of gentle breezes as you bike along the Potomac…and then you hit The Snooze Button.  I have no magic answers for combatting TSB, although I find it much much easier to get motivated to bike at 0300 for some reason.

I will say this, preparing your bag in advance and making the intention to bike before you hit the hay is immensely helpful.  I win out over TSB when I say to myself the day/night before, I am biking tomorrow.  When I wake up to my alarm, and I am tired, I know I have to get up because I do not want to let myself down.  Some days are really hard and the temptation to sleep an extra 15 minutes and the draw of staying cozy under the covers is intense, but you have to remember why you are biking.  For me, after 5 minutes in the saddle, I start feeling refreshed, the wind on my face, the stillness of the night, the moon beaming on the river… I love the feeling I get when I bike in the morning.  I love arriving to work at 0445 – without coffee in me – chipper, happy, alert.  When the excuses and pull of TSB start distracting me from my goals – I just kick myself in the tail and remember how I feel after those first 5 minutes.

Start your night and day off right.  Make your intention, promise yourself, and let the call of the road and saddle be stronger than the false lure of TSB win every time.  Because really, its just 15 minutes – and happiness lasts all day!

Stay safe, happy trails.

Caribou Out.

MCM March Training

Status

MCM March 2012 Training:

  •  Sunday 4 Mar:  4 mile run, 2 mile walk
  • Monday 5 Mar: 1.5 mile run
  • Saturday 10 Mar:  3 mile run
  • Sunday 11 Mar:  4 mile run
  • Saturday 17 Mar: 4 mile run, 2 mile jog, 2 mile walk.
  • Monday 19 Mar: 5 mile run…in Paris!
  • Thursday 22 Mar:  3.2 mile (5k)…hill workout in Portugal.

A Plea: What Happened to Trail Etiquette?

I recently switched from day shifts to night shifts, which means my commuting routine feels a heck of a lot different.  No longer do I hit the trails at 0400 when its me and the lone runner who I cross paths with.  I won’t lie, I miss seeing this runner, he was a little late starting his run the other day and I started to worry about him!  We see intersect at nearly the same point on the trail every day.  Anyway, I digress.

Nigh commuting can be really nice, especially when the weather is beautiful outside – the sun is out, there is a nice breeze, the river shines…the downside?  The trail is crowded.  During the week its not too terrible, but weekends or holidays I almost prefer to drive or take the metro because so many of the trail users are clueless and stress me out.  As a runner, I use the trails and don’t want to get hit by over-zealous bikers.  Having both perspectives, I am a huge believer in trail etiquette and it drives me bonkers when people don’t.

Whether you are a biker, runner, walker, or whatever – trail etiquette applies to you.  If you wouldn’t act this way in a car, don’t do it on the trail.

  1. Stay in your Lane – the rules of the road apply to the trail.  Don’t run or bike in the middle of the trail.
  2. Signaling – Speak and Listen.  If I tell you I’m passing you on the left please do NOT move to the left lane, seriously. You would be surprised how hard this is.  If you are going to pass me, tell me – I’d rather you yell than ring a bell.
  3. Passing – If its not safe to pass, don’t pass – yes its annoying when you have speed going, but I don’t want to crash.  Similarly, if you are running/biking with multiple people go single-file when you see crowds or someone says they are passing.
  4. Be Aware – Smartphone users, please just have some situational awareness.  Don’t wander across the trails with your eyes glued to your phone.
  5. Don’t Stop in the Trail – something wrong with your bike? waiting for your trail mate? fixing your shoe? Great, just move off the main trail.
  6. Respect – if we all respect each other and show some common courtesy, no one will be stressed.  If you want the trail to your self, then run or bike at 5am.

Please people.  LISTEN and be RESPECTFUL.  I cannot stress enough the listening part.  “Passing on Your Left” should not indicate your need to move to your left.  I don’t know why this is so hard.  Also, what is with the dirty looks when I tell you I’m passing?  Yes, I yell, I’m on a bike, its windy, I want you to have time to stay to the right.  Don’t be annoyed at me.  If you want silence and solitude, do not take a walk around Gravely Point during peak hours.  Sigh…

Ok. I’m off my soap box…for now.

Caribou Out.

Motivation

So…running…somedays it is just really hard to get out of bed and go for a run.  It is even harder when you have not really run in over 4-5 months.  When I was in Baghdad I ran 3-5 times a week and swam once a week.  Granted there was literally nothing else to do but work and workout and having 24-7 access to two gyms, that were at most a 5 minute walk from where you slept, it was hard not to workout.  But after Baghdad, I spent 2.5 months traveling, hiking, and backpacking, followed by moving, unpacking, and getting back to “real life.”  Somehow in the mix of it all running took a major back seat in my life.  On the “plus,” biking increased significantly and I started doing yoga.

I won’t lie though, the thought of starting to run again was daunting.  I kept wondering and fearing if I would get injured, had I lost all of my stamina, would running even be fun again? I started to psyche myself out of running.  “Oh, I’ll go tomorrow….”  “Next week looks good.” “If I get new running shoes, I’ll be motivated!” “Monday, I’ll start running on Monday.”  Sound familiar?  Yeah, that was what I kept telling myself.  I even signed up for an 8K race – yet nothing.  No rubber met the road.

So what worked? How did I get back on the running wagon?  Well, deciding to run a marathon and to run it for a really good cause was the main motivation.  An 8K I can run without much training and not get injured, but there is no way I could just “run” a marathon one day.  This requires effort.   Secondly, running to support soldiers and their families, running for those who are learning to walk again on prosthetic legs, is a whole new level of inspiration.  Third, finding running partners.  I was really fortunate to have found a fellow Team Fisher House runner.  I realized when I was running with her at 0700 this morning that being able to chat with someone while running makes the 6 miles feel like 2.  A training partner – even if you only train together twice a month – is key!

You will motivate each other when you are not training together and need to stay on track with mileage so you can keep-up for the next run!  My advice to you?  Go out and run with someone.  I did not know or meet my running partner until this morning and it was fantastic.  Use “Meet-ups,” running groups, facebook, race teams, a stranger stretching in the parking lot with a ridiculous yellow jacket.  Runners for the most part want to help and encourage other runners.  Ask if you can join them, even if for a mile or two – you’ll be happy you did.

Happy running!

Caribou Out.