Deliciousness and Record Mileage

I love being vegan! I have tried so many different foods and challenged myself to make vegan versions of some of my favorite foods! =) Here are some of the delicious recipes I’ve constructed in the past few weeks:

**Gluten-free, vegan, cinnamon pancakes with bananas (use seltzer water for super fluffy pancakes!)

**Baked “cheesy” kale chips with nutritional yeast (this was a hit with the hubby)

**Thai coconut curry with lots of portabello mushrooms and chickpeas, served over egg noodles

**Oatmeal with almond milk & cinnamon (my favorite spice!) topped with bananas and Craisins

**Gluten-free, vegan, chocolate chip cookies (I have THE BEST recipe)

**Homemade “Cava” bowls (inspired by a restaurant named “Cava” in Bethesda, MD): saffron basmati rice, pickled purple cabbage, tomato-cucumber relish, falafel, baba ganoush, roasted red pepper hummus, and spicy harissa. This was my favorite meal of the week, but was so full of garlic that I had the worst heart burn, ever.

vegan food

These are just a few of the many things I’ve been cooking up in the kitchen =) Next up this weekend: quinoa pasta and roasted chickpeas. Delicious! Leave a comment if you’d like the recipes for any of the dishes above.

Other tasty snacks and prepared foods I’m loving:

Way Better Snacks chips (I like the sweet potato and sunflower seed flavors)

Amy’s Vegan Gluten-free Pizza (I add extra #Daiya mozzarella cheese)

Annie’s Lite Goddess Dressing (I put this on everything!)

UPDATE ON MILEAGE: one day left in February and I’m already at 90.83 miles!!! That’s already 6 more miles than last month!!! Day 58/365, staying strong.

Valentine’s Day Miracle

It has been a while since my last post, but I have many updates… starting with this one.

Valentine’s Day 2014 was celebrated in a unique fashion:

That morning, I went for a short recovery run on the treadmill (since sidewalks we still covered in icy snow melt), my typical beginning-of-the-day activity, showered and ate breakfast (kale, of course!). But my Valentine’s Day Adventure began with a double date (with my sister-in-law & her boyfriend) at the Red Cross Blood Donation Center. Throughout my life I have always been anemic, rarely able to get my blood levels in balance. I had to be given iron drops as a child, and take iron supplements through my teenage years. When I was 16 years old, a 3-unit blood transfusion saved my life. I never understood how important blood donations were (and still are!), until I needed them for myself. One year later, I wanted to give back and save lives, so I began making quarterly visits to the Red Cross Blood Donation Center.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to donate every single time. I was moderately anemic (as many teenage girls are), and couldn’t consistently pass the mandatory hemoglobin test. I figured out how to get my blood levels up, though. For a whole week, I would prepare my blood for donation by stuffing myself full of iron supplements, multivitamins, and steak! (I wasn’t always vegan) This worked most of the time, allowing me to donate enough, over time, to be a “Gallon Donor.” But it still hadn’t fixed my anemia, and definitely wrecked havoc on my GI system.

It has been 4.5 years since my last donation.

Last Friday, I sat nervously in the “Whole Blood” questioning room at the Donation Center… waiting for the outcome. Would I be healthy enough to donate? The clinician took my temperature. Normal. Then he tested my blood pressure. 104/78 (yes!). Then came the hemoglobin test. He pricked my finger, wiped the first drop of blood away with an alcohol wipe, and then collected the next “clean” drop. I was sweating, waiting for the little computer-thing to measure my hemoglobin. The machine beeped and my measurement came up: 12.5. The minimum requirement is 12.5… and I met it. I was elated! I didn’t have to cram myself full of artificial iron to “fake” my blood through the test! Oh, and for the first time I didn’t faint at the end of my donation (BONUS!).

Blood_donation_2.14

How was this time different? How could my blood be in better balance, now, without vitamins and iron supplements? Without MEAT in my diet?

Well, let’s discuss the major differences:

1. I have been taking an oxidative stress-reducing supplement (all natural, GMO-free, herbal) everyday since the end of August 2013. Oxidative stress is free-radical damage to the cells of the body, leading to mutations and illness. We get oxidative stress from the chemicals in the water we drink, the pollution in the air we breathe, our cell phones up to our heads, preservatives in the food we eat, EVERYTHING. That said, I suppose reducing my oxidative stress allows my body to function at a higher level, and be the miracle body it is. Incredible.

2. I have been “pescatarian-vegetarian” since June 2012, and vegan since January 2014. My diet has increased the variety of foods I consume, giving me a broad spectrum of nutrient intake. Who says you need animal meat for iron and protein?

My blood is BALANCED for the first time, since… EVER.

I’m ready for spring!

Maryland is a Winter Wonderland! With over a foot of snow on the ground, it seems that winter is not yet ready to give up. This morning I walked to the community gym in my Hunter rain boots (wellies!), and STILL the snow made it into my shoes… getting my socks wet. Humph. At least I carried my running shoes.

Obviously I was the only person that was crazy enough to wake up early on their Snow Day to hit the gym. #rad2014 But that’s okay because I needed the space in the weight room for my Sun Salutations. I felt surprisingly stretched and strong after 10 Sun A & B’s. That said, I am trying to get back into having a home yoga practice, especially since that’s the only yoga practice my bank account can handle 🙂

On another note… I’m really digging this new treadmill workout I found online: (sarahfit.com)

5 minute warm-up 5.0-5.5 mph (or speed walk)

1 minute at a jog 5.0-7.0 mph

1 minute at a faster pace 7.0-9.0 mph

1 minute at the fastest pace 9.0-11.0 mph

REPEAT the set of 3 speed intervals 3x

5 minute cool-down 5.0-5.5 mph (or speed walk)

This workout kicks my butt and gets the metabolism revved up, even hours after leaving the gym. Try it out!

On a less positive note, today I hit a wall after my morning workout. Maybe it was the 3 miles, followed by 1 mile of sprints this AM. Maybe it was the movement of my energy through the 10 minutes of yoga this AM. Maybe it was the modified HIIT tread and shred workout yesterday morning. Maybe it was the 126.01 miles I have run already THIS YEAR! Maybe, Maybe, Maybe. Definitely, I was exhausted. I struggled through taking a shower and cooking breakfast, but three gluten-free, vegan pancakes, and 12 ounces of coconut water later…. I felt much better and even had the energy to walk a mile to the dog park with Bourbon, and back.

This was a reminder that sometimes I just need to take a few minutes to recharge. Or maybe a few days. Tomorrow I will treat myself to a leisurely 2 mile run on the treadmill followed by a light strength-building circuit. No sprints. No picking up heavy things, and putting them down. Just taking it easy, having fun, and enjoying the feeling of keeping myself healthy.

Update on reflux: taking 14-day sequence of generic Prilosec. I don’t typically rely on Western medicine, but I am very happy that I can now eat and enjoy my meals.

Update on veganism: it’s going well. Sticking to it, even when the hubby eats “real” cheese in front of me. Also, I added an extra challenge of pulling back on my gluten intake. Decrease inflammation to decrease risk of disease.

Updates, Reflux, and Orthotics

Even though I mentioned my success in running everyday in January 2014, I forgot to mention HOW MANY miles I ran for the month: 84.44 miles! That’s 2x the miles I ran in December. Yeahhhhh!!!!

This week I completed most of my runs outdoors (finally!), and even ran with the pup for some of them! Almost 25 miles completed for February, already! Friday I did my first “long” run since beginning this challenge: 5 miles! The weather was perfect (sunny and upper 20’s), and I felt healthy and full of energy. I was so energetic that I followed my run with 75 minute of Vinyasa Flow at Yoga Bliss Studio. NOW I understand why all those fitness magazines rave about “Yoga for Runners;” my body needed a good stretch. I notice some key poses that stretched my running muscles:

  • Side Angle- definitely didn’t think my obliques  were that tight, but they were.
  • Downward Dog-  stretching those calves and hamstrings. Yes.
  • Lizard Pose- opened up the hip flexors, in a BIG way.
  • Eagle Pose- again with the hip flexors and stretched out my sore periformis.

Let’s talk about my AWESOME Saturday Night: Relaxing at home with my pup, Bourbon. I have been suffering from intense acid reflux for the past 2 weeks, and just haven’t been feeling very well. Super sour stomach, burning esophagus, burps, and a 2% total body weight loss from limited food intake. The only times my reflux doesn’t bother me are while running and while sleeping. My two favorite activities =)

Photo on 2014-02-08 at 20.55

But getting serious, chronic acid reflux can cause serious damage, so there are certain foods that should be avoided if you suffer from heart burn or GERD:

  • Caffeine (soda, coffee, tea, chocolate); Carbonation (beverages); Alcohol (all types)
  • Citrus Fruits (lemons, limes, pineapple, oranges, etc.)
  • Tomatoes, and tomato products (sauces, salsas)
  • Spicy Foods
  • Mint or peppermint
  • Onions and garlic
  • High-Fat Foods (meats, deep-fried foods, foods with creamy sauces, cheese, fast foods, etc.)

If you’d like more information, WebMD is a great source.

On a more positive note: I’ve kept up with my running. Have somewhat fallen behind in my weight lifting, but signed up for an intro week at Bliss Yoga (that’ll help with the cross-training). And, tomorrow will be my 40th day of running in a row… 5 straight weeks! In those 5 weeks I have run in a lot of shoes:

  • Brooks Pure Cadence 3-  my go-to
  • Brooks Pure Flow 2- my other go-to
  • Brooks Pure Grit 2- trails, snow and ice
  • Altra Torin- great for shorter runs, followed by weight-lifting
  • New Balance 870 V3- love for longer runs
  • Saucony Kinvara 4- love for shorter runs and plyometrics
  • Adidas Glide Boost- loved this one for the one Fun Run (5k), would be a good trainer for long runs

shoes

**Most of these shoes are lightweight trainers or racing flats, and even though I love them… they might not be the right shoe for you, so get fitted by your local Fleet Feet Sports!!!!

** I wear Superfeet Carbon Insoles in most of my running shoes. Super lightweight, low-volume, flexible, and resilient. These help prevent plantar fasciitis flare-ups, and make my knees feel much healthier (it’s all about alignment, baby!). To all you new, intermediate, and advanced runners out there: I recommend going to your local specialty running store and asking about orthotics. Why?

  • Insoles help your 2D shoe (flat) adapt to your 3D foot
  • They help stabilize your rear foot for increased efficiency in movement
  • Insoles give support to your plantar facia to keep it lifted and not hyper-extended

Don’t let your stubbornness get in the way of healthy feet and joints!

Traveling, Food & #rad2014

I know it has been a while, so this post might seem all over the place.

I have stuck with my Run-a-Day Challenge for 35 days!!!! I made it though one whole month!!!

Next mini-goal: run at least 2-miles every day for 3 months. I can do it!

Running everyday has not been easy. Even though I put a short 2-mile minimum on my daily runs, fitting in time to run everyday has become the biggest obstacle. In addition, the weather has not cooperated in the least. Consistent 20-degree weather combined with snow and ice has made hitting the streets difficult. I cannot risk slipping on sidewalk ice; I have a challenge to meet! That said, I have spent many the miles on the treadmill. SO NOT MY FAVORITE.


elite

Just got back from a short trip to Dallas, TX, with my husband and sister-in-law. Amazing health and wealth conference, meeting a few players from Real Salt Lake, and hearing from the fabulous Roy Spence.  Speaking of health, I was able to continue my running through the trip, and even sneak one in between my flight home and the Super Bowl on Sunday! Unfortunately, the day of our flight, a couple hours before leaving for the airport, my husband and I went for a short run… and he happened to trip, fall, and break his hand. Poor guy! He was such a trooper. He made it through the entire weekend with only a splint, and next-to-no complaints. (Don’t worry, he got a cast put on today.)

Dallas has amazing Mexican food! We went to a fabulous Mexican restaurant called “Wild Salsa,” where we ate fresh guacamole, various homemade salsas (including a habanero one!), drank margaritas made of fresh-squeezed citrus, and I had the best salad ever (cabbage, black beans, roasted corn, avocado, onion, tomato, cucumber)!! I did realize the difficulty with being vegan… and eating anywhere but at home. Even though it IS possible, it is still extremely difficult. Many menu items “forget” to list cheese under their dish components, i.e. my salad came with queso fresco and I didn’t know until it was placed in front of me. I was very hungry, so I made a non-vegan exception.

To all you vegans out there, remember to pack your own snacks! Especially for the flight. Some of the options I enjoy are: Way Better Snacks, Kale Chips, Kind Bars, clementines, and oatmeal mixes (I wish I had those!).