Thursday, July 31, 2014

Who participates in Foodie Pen Pal ...

Surprise Thursday POST!

 I am posting today to tell you about the coolest food program on one of the best blogs!

http://www.theleangreenbean.com/foodie-penpals/

This month I participated in something called Foodie Pen Pal. It was my 4th time participating, but this is the first time I get to share about it on my blog!!

So - What is Foodie Pen Pal?
It is a program that Lindsay from the blog The Lean Green Bean started back in 2011.

The general concept is that once you sign up on Lindsay's site - you get connected with a "pen pal" from anywhere across the United States and you communicate a bit over email to get to know each other and then you send each other a package that can include homemade baked goodies, local delicious food items, and/or just some of your favorite products! It is such a fun way to meet someone new and try new products from across the US! You do not have to be a blogger to participate (I did when I was not a blogger), but it also a cool way for fellow foodie bloggers to connect.

Here are some of the detailed rules taken from Lindsay's site:
  • On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
  • The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treatsThe spending limit is $15The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
  • You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
  • Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you can choose to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
So ...if you are interested in participating click on the image at the top of this blog to take you to Lindsay's site to sign up! Or click on this link - http://www.theleangreenbean.com/foodie-penpals/

BUT, let's dive into my foodie pen pal experience this month!

I got paired with Celia Finfrock ... it is such a small world, because when you signed up you are  randomly paired with your partner, and when I got Celia's name, I briefly checked out her blog  and realized that I KNEW her! She went to my high school in St. Louis and we took French together. Crazy small world that I was randomly paired with someone I already knew!

This was Celia's first time doing Foodie Pen Pal, so I was excited to send her a great box and see what she sent me!
She had been traveling in Disney World, so I got a lot of goodies from there!
  • Mickey Mouse Pasta (how fun is that!)
  • Mexican Praline Peanuts from the Mexico pavilion at Epcot!
  • French shortbread cookies that she fell in love with when she lived in France. They were so tasty! I am actually typing this in an airport and wishing I had one right now!
  • A fancy, french recipe that would be perfect for when we have company.
I always try to send one homemade baked good - so I sent Celia banana breakfast cookies and then included: my favorite cinnamon almonds, the tastiest dried mango from Trader Joe's, and a lot of local cherry stuff to represent Michigan =)

In the past I got spices, olive oil, baked goods, dried jerky and more! One time a lady from Florida sent me this Everglade spice mix that was TO DIE FOR, and I added it to everything. We just ran out of it too, so if anyone if reading and has that locally ... let me know! 

It is such a fun a fun experience - who does not LOVE getting packages in the mail.

Thank you to Celia!

What do you think about Foodie Pen Pal?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

While Julie's Away..... Watts will play!

Good Morning, Good Morning!

The It’s about a Girl Blog has officially been taken over!! Well, at least for this week! J Can you believe that Julie trusted me with her fantastic blog!? I’m feeling pretty darn lucky, but I must also admit I’m feeling a little nervous for my first “official post.” There has been lots of writing and re-writing and I’m finding it a little more difficult to write when I’m not speaking about bikes or triathlon. But, I suppose there’s nothing like a deadline be a friendly push to finally get something posted. So, here goes nothing…..

I’m Watts.

I’m Julie’s person. Her best friend. Julie’s been stuck with me since the great year of 2006.What a fantastic year.... our freshman year in college. I need not go any further in my explanation because everyone understands the epic-ness of their freshman year of college. It didn't take very long at all before Julie and I were the best of friends. Looking back, it’s probably fair to say we were pretty inseparable. Many miles as teammates, equates to many life chats and most importantly, many laughs. We shared all the good stuff. We were the very definition of friendship – and still are.

I grew up in Mesa, Arizona and believe with every ounce of my heart, that fate brought me to DePauw University. Fate also brought me to the same dorm and the same hallway as Julie – just a few doors down.  However, unlike Julie, I did not go to DePauw to be a volleyball player. I have extremely tender forearms. From the very beginning, I was a runner. My running career started in the 7th grade and trust me… I can talk to you until I’m blue in the face or until you’re bored to tears about how wonderful it was to be a collegiate athlete. Amazing. I am who I am because of my experience as a DePauw student-athlete.

Post college I was looking for something a little different than putting one foot in front of the other. Fate struck again and I signed up for my first triathlon in 2010 and did pretty darn good. I’m a little competitive (okay… a lot competitive) so when I won my age group in the first two races I signed up for, I was hooked. I got bit hard and fast by the triathlon bug. And I LOVE IT.  Fast forward three years, I have close to 15 triathlons of experience and two of those triathlons are at the Ironman distance -  Ironman Wales and Ironman World Championship.


In summary, I’m a lot like the author of this blog. Like Julie, I’m obsessed with fitness and being outside. I take friends, family and health very seriously, and I strongly believe we are in charge of our own happiness. But, I’m grateful when fate steps in and surprises me. J Currently, I still spend much of my time with friends, family, and triathlon – but in the last 8 months fate has brought me to California to work at Specialized Bicycle Company. I miss my people in the Midwest something terrible, but for right now I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.


To close this little mini introduction I’m going to copy Julie’s style. She likes to include quotes in many of her posts so as a true copycat, I too, would like to share a quote that has become somewhat of a personal philosophy as I've transitioned to California, “when was the last time you did something for the first time.”

Take a moment to think about what this quote means to you and know that the challenge has been thrown out......  Can you do something for the first time by the end of today?!

**If you’re successful in this challenge make sure share your story in the comment section!! **


Oh, and thanks for reading! Stop by on Friday for round two of Watts blabber! 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Who is on vacation (almost)...

Howdy!
I hope everyone is waking up on the right side of the bed this Monday! How was your weekend?

Our weekend was filled with a lot of fun social events around Ann Arbor and a little relaxation. On Friday, B officially started a vacation week - residents are assigned or choose certain weeks through the year to be "vacation" weeks. Therefore, he is off the whole upcoming week and gets to sleep in and enjoy some down time!
Vacation weeks are definitely worth celebrating, so on Friday we went to a place in Ann Arbor called Dominick's that is famous for their sangria ... yumm!

B was a trooper on Sunday and woke up early to run a local 5 mile race with me. It was a very small race, but a fun course that cut through some woods and stayed on smaller paved trails. In the middle of the race I found my "happy pace," which means I felt like I was pushing myself but also really consistent and not dying. Overall I really enjoyed the race and was happy with how I ran.


The rest of the weekend was filled with packing and preparing for a short little vacation we are embarking on this week to Northern Michigan! I am excited to spend time with family and see some new areas of Michigan. We have plans for a lot of bike riding and a little running too - active vacations are the best (and vacations with a lot of ice cream and some wine too ... all about balance =) 

I have some surprise guest posts for the rest of the week while I unplug and soak in family time. 

I will leave you with a picture that summarizes vacation week ...
Sunday nap time with Yosey!



Friday, July 25, 2014

Who shares a "Crossfit" style workout ...

Happy Friday Friends!
Can you believe it is the end of July already ... I can't! This summer is flying by, but a short summer vacation is coming up, so I am very excited!!

I wanted to pop in this Friday and share a workout with you for FITNESS FRIDAY! This is a full body workout with no equipment! You can do it anywhere ... so no excuses =)

I am saying this workout is inspired by Crossfit ... but I have actually never tired Crossfit. I am uneducated about Crossfit because of my lack of experience - but I just do not think it is the right fit for me.
BUT - the following workout is inspired by Crossfit because it uses the AMRAP method. AMRAP stands for As Many Reps As Possible. Therefore, below you will find 3 separate circuit workouts, and you will try to go through each circuit as many times as possible (with good form) for the allotted time. This allows you to really push yourself for a certain time period and also allows you to really target certain areas with repetitive moves.

Also - you can keep track of how many rounds you get of each circuit and write it down. Then - go back and do this workout again and see if you can improve. Compete against yourself!

Let's get to it! Click on the exercise to take you to a link that will demonstrate the move.

AMRAP Bodyweight Workout

First, warm up with either a short run or dynamic warm up drills - make sure your body is nice and warm and you are starting to sweat!

Round 1
6 minute round

1) 20 alternating lateral jumps (total)
2) 20 basic squats
3) 20 knee hug crunches
4) 10 pike push ups

** Take a 3 minute break, but keep moving

Round 2
6 minute round

1) 20 mountain climbers (10 on each side)
2) 20 side tricep pushups (10 on each side)
3) 10 sea turtles (bent arm)
4) 15 plyo jacks

** Take another 3 minute break, but keep moving

Round 3 (put it all together)
12 minute round

1) 20 alternating lateral jumps
2) 10 basic squats
3) 20 knee hug crunches
4) 10 pike push ups
5) 20 mountain climbers
6) 20 side tricep pushups
7) 15 plyo jacks
8) 10 sea turtles

If you want a really intense workout you can go through the circuits again, or do a cool down and stretch!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What are you up to this weekend?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Who loves running ...


You probably all know by now that I love running, especially long distances ... but I wanted to dedicate a post to why I love running!

Why do I love running?

  • I love running because it an amazing way to make friends and build a community! The cross country team was my family in college and I can honestly say I planned my whole future life and made some big life decisions on the trails in DePauw's nature center running with my cross country girls. Just think of all of the interesting things the trees have heard in that park =)
I am absolutely obsessed with the book - Mile Markers: 26.2 Most Important Reasons that Women Run by Kristin Armstrong and there are so many quotes that relate to my love of running and friendship:

"I noticed during our conversations yesterday that we are are free to talk about our lives, the good and the bad, without judgement. As far as I can tell, no women feels compelled to take ourselves up or take the ourselves down a notch with the useless self-deprecating remarks that are often typical in other social areas. A running group can be such a unique and supportive group of friends."
    • Also, I met my hubby while running! He was on the track team at DePauw! 
    • Since leaving collegiate cross country, running has brought me so many new friendships! There is something about running next to someone and working hard together that can just bring you together. Also, when you are training for a marathon - you can really get to know someone over a 20 mile long run!
  • I love running because it is my escape. It is a time that is just for me and I can use it as a stress relief, I can think through things (or blog post ideas!), or I can not think at all. 
  • I love running because I can watch the whole world slowly wake up on my early morning runs. Watching the sunrise as I am getting in my daily miles is amazing. I cannot comment on early morning running without linking it back to friendships ... so many great early morning runs with my old roomie, Kate, and now with friends in my condo complex!  
Another perfect quote about AM running from Kristin Armstrong,
"As usual with our early morning sisterhood, we talk about everything under the sun. Our conversation dips and dives like hummingbirds; one second we land on shallow topics, the next something sweetly intimate, flitting from one to the next with ease and grace. We never talk like this at parties, restaurants, school gatherings, community functions, football practice, or play dates. The blanket of darkness adds a shroud of privacy, the pounding footfalls a buffer."
    Santa 5K in Indianapolis with Roomie!
  • I love running because it is the sport that put my weight into perspective and got me on the right track. I can now look back to my high school years and say that I was underweight and unhealthy. After becoming best friends with one of the best runners in the state of Missouri, I decided to give it a shot too and I realized that to perform at my best - I needed to fuel my body correctly. In addition, in college I met all of my amazing cross country teammates who had a healthy relationship with food and it put everything into perspective and I can honestly say running helped me work through everything! 
  • I love running because it forces me to unconnect and look around. Being a newbie blogger and just being a yuppie in this generation, I feel like I am constantly looking at my phone or the computer ... running is a time to disconnect and just take advantage of nature 
  • I love running because it is my FAVORITE way to explore a new city or location. 
  • I love running because it is a pretty darn cheap form of exercise and pretty simple. You just put some shoes on and go put one foot in front of the other. 
  • I love running (especially long distances), because you get what you put into it! A marathon is a daunting distance, but if you are willing to log the miles and work hard through a training plan - you can achieve your goal and crossing that finish line feels so good!
Color Run 5K 
  • I love running because it is competitive, but it can be competitive at different levels. The Kara Gouchers, Ryan Halls, and Kenyans of the world are in their own competitive sphere of amazingness and some of their times and accomplishments just blow my mind - but running also allows us "normal folk" in the running community to compete. We can compete against ourselves, or even against the girl next to you as you both push to the finish line. If you have worked hard and finish a half marathon in 4 hours or in 1 hour and 30 minutes, you were competing and should be proud ... and next time you can work hard and compete to beat that time!
  • I love running because it is part of my identity and I love being a runner and part of the runner world.

Writing this post has made me want to go out for a run! It has reminded me how lucky I am to be able to log all of the miles I have and formed all of the bonds I have through this sport.
As corny as this sounds, running is more than just a sport, it is a lifestyle ... and I am proud and grateful to live that lifestyle! 

What is something that you love and some reasons why??

Monday, July 21, 2014

Who shares a workout app...

Hello Everyone and welcome to your week! I hope you had a great weekend.

B and I had a wonderful weekend.
We declared Saturday our "Explore Detroit Day" --we have lived in Ann Arbor over a year, but have not really ventured into the city at all. After my long run in the morning (14 miles went pretty well!), we hopped in the car and headed first to Eastern Market.

I sadly did not take any pictures at Eastern Market - it was such a cool place and experience. I would describe it as a really large farmer's market, surrounded by quirky stores and specialty food stores. We wondered around the market and decided to get a little snack and settled on pierogies! We got 3 pierogies and they were all sooo good - a mushroom, a spinach and artichoke, and a breakfast with sausage and egg. The mushroom was incredibly earthy and the spinach and artichoke tasted like the dip inside a delicious dough! So yummmy!

After we were done exploring Eastern Market we walked to Comerica Park for a 1pm Detroit Tigers Baseball game! It was our first Tigers game and we had a lot of fun ... I love watching baseball live! I thought Comerica Park was a great ballpark - so many choices for food and drink and very clean. I loved that they had a special bar that sold just Michigan beer - support local breweries!

The Tigers lost and it was actually a little cold (in July!), but we still soaked in the time together and had fun playing this fantasy baseball team game that we always play at live games.

After the game we made the best decision of our lives ... we went to Slow's BBQ! It is a famous restaurant in Detroit and I would recommend it to anyone traveling to the area - it was sooooo good! B and I both thought that Slow's would be more of a fast food, deli type place, but it was actually a gorgeous, hype restaurant with a great bar too. It is known for having really long waiting times because it is so popular, but we got lucky and found a place at the bar. I am a big preacher of the "everything in moderation lifestyle" ... well we really did not follow moderation with our delicious meal ... BUT this was a special day ... so I would say we have crazy, huge meals like this in moderation =)

I got BBQ pork and B got ribs (and brisket), and for sides we had smashed sweet potatoes, green beans, sinful mac and cheese, and baked beans (yes - there was just 2 of us!). It was all so good! I loved that they had 5 different homemade BBQ sauces that you could try and mix together.

After Slow's we headed home and lazily sat on the couch the rest of the evening and talked about our tasty meal =)

Sunday was filled with checking things off the "to do list." It was actually a really productive day ... so I consider that success!

But now it is the start of a new week and I wanted to pop in this Monday and tell you about the best FREE fitness app out there!
Nike Training Club 

Meredith from the blog The Mitten Wife  introduced me to this app and I LOVE it! I have to admit, I do not use it that much in the middle of training for a race, but when I do use it - I am always sweaty and sore!

Most of the workouts you can even do at home with little equipment - usually just need a set of dumb bells.



One thing I love is that you can pick what kind of a workout you want that day. As you see above, you can pick from the following,
- Get Lean - cardio drills
- Get Toned - light weights/ intervals and still cardio (My favorite!)
- Get Strong - heavier weights and more reps to build strength
- Get Focused - 12 minute workouts that target certain areas - LOVE these!

Once you pick the kind of workout you want that day, you can pick the challenge level you want. I actually find there is little difference between intermediate and advanced - so I normally pick advanced.

After making those selections, you still have about 10 -15 workouts to choose from that fit into those selections and you normally have a choice between a 15 minute workout, 30 minute, or 45 minute. You can click on each workout to get a preview of what you will be doing too!

* Tip - when I go to our little gym in our condo complex, I get on the elliptical for a warm-up and as I am slowly warming up, I am going through the app to select my workout. Multitasking - warming up and picking the workout! 
Once you finally select your workout and click on it - it will start timing the workout and basically gives you exercises to do in minute or 30 second intervals. Sometimes it is so nice to have someone (or something) tell you what to do for your workout.

I also love that if you do not know exactly how to do the move it is asking you to do - you can click on the play button, and it will take a break from timing the workout, and give a 15 second tutorial on how to perform the move!

Sometimes we all need a little bit of encouragement to get moving, and this app is perfect for those days! Start with a 15 minute workout to get you moving and then hopefully once you get started you will want to keep doing more! Getting started is always the hardest ....

The "Get Focused" 15 minute workouts are also great to tag onto the end of a shorter run to get some focused core or arm work into the day!

Also, if you feel like you are in a funk in your workout routine or schedule, try one of these workouts to mix it up a bit!

Do you guys have an apps that you love and want to share (it does not have to be workout related)?


Friday, July 18, 2014

Who has a career announcement ...

I interrupt your regularly scheduled "Fitness Friday" post for an announcement (and as you can see from the title... it is a career announcement... I am not pregnant...).

I have officially signed up for my first class and made a plan to start working towards getting a Masters in Dietetics and one day pretty far down the road ... becoming a Registered Dietitian!

Writing this post and actually pressing publish is terrifying because it holds me accountable and means I am really embarking on this ridiculously long and stretched out journey - but it is also exciting! It is exciting because through ALL of the prerequisite classes, the future course work, and the future internship ... I can see a career that I am passionate about and can be adjustable for all the phases of my future life!

I do feel lucky to have gotten my current job, but it is not my future career ... So with the encouragement of B and others - and after extensive research, here is the current, flexible plan...

First - I have to take a TON of prerequisite classes ... like I basically need to go back and get another bachelor's degree because I took NO science and math in College. I went to a small liberal arts school and as a political science major, I only had to take one science class ... and I took Moons and Planets? Good choice Julie - that one really helped my career path?!?!
Therefore, I am going to use the next 4 years in Ann Arbor to slowly take prereq classes at the local community college and at Eastern University. I am currently planning on just taking one class a semester because I want need to keep my full time job as long as I can. I am starting off with Human Anatomy! I have a bunch of chemistry to take, more biology, stats, and some nutrition classes ... basically the next 4 years will be a juggling act - but I will leave Ann Arbor ready to apply to a Masters programs for Dietetics. (Applying for a second bachelors is an option too - but I heard that in 10 years they are going to require a Masters for RDs anyways, so I might as well make myself as competitive as possible in the job market - and it is only an additional semester). 

The next step after prereqs is a bit fuzzy because B's future path after residency is a bit unknown. We will probably move somewhere new (and exotic?) for 1 year for him to pursue a fellowship ... so that one year will not be enough time to tackle my Masters ... so I will probably just use that year to get everything in order and finalize a future plan.

Hopefully once B gets his FIRST real life doctor job (after the fellowship), I can start tackling my 2 year Masters in that location (yes ... I know that is basically 6 years away ... but I do love marathons right? so it is a marathon and about the journey). I am planning on either looking at local Universities in the area (if there are any options) OR Eastern University (here in Ann Arbor) actually offers an online coordinated Masters in Dietetics - I would just need to secure my internship locations myself. After the Masters - I would take my Registered Dietician Exam ... fingers crossed I will pass and be an RD.

Easy as Pie right? (Making a homemade pie and crust is actually hard ... so I guess it makes sense!)

I am excited to document parts of this long journey on the blog. There is actually a great RD blogging community that has been a great resource as I contemplated this decision and hopefully I can be a part of in the future!

Just by reading this - you are supporting my journey - so thank you!!


  Do you have big plans for your career or big announcements?


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Who made zucchini bread ...

Good Morning!

I do not consider myself a master cook or baker, but I am excited to share some recipes on the blog!
One of my favorite things to make are quick breads (or breads that do not have yeast and you can usually make them in one bowl) - so today I want to share 2 recipes for a family zucchini bread recipe and then a healthy version of zucchini bread.

One of our best weeks of produce - broccoli, beets, and zucchini 
B and I decided to buy into a CSA this year.  CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it means that B and I paid one lump sum to a small, local farm around January and now we get a box filled with produce (mainly veggies) every Tuesday for about 12 weeks. CSAs are usually not too expensive and they are a great way to support small farms and eat local. The main reason we wanted to try one was to get exposed to new veggies and new ways of cooking. We have been doing it for about 4 weeks thus far and it has been great! I will admit ... I am a little sick of kale, but I have loved trying new things like kohlrabi, collard greens, and more. We never know what we are going to get - so Tuesday are filled with surprises!

We have gotten zucchinis a few weeks in a row, so this week I decided to use them to make zucchini bread ... one of B and I's favorites!

Before I start with the recipes ... I have to make fun of myself and reveal an embarrassing story! I have yet to admit this to my mother in law or sister in law, so if they read this, I will brace myself for teasing.
Picture this ... I had been dating B for a few years and as the sappy, newly in love girl that I was at the time - I decided I wanted to surprise B and make his favorite zucchini bread!  I had never made zucchini bread before, or really had that much cooking experience -- but I confidently strolled to the grocery store and bought some zucchinis and the other needed ingredients. The baking process went pretty smooth ... I do remember thinking the batter seemed a bit runny, but I continued to move forward in my pursuit to woo B. When B came over to my apartment that evening, I eagerly told him I had made him a surprise, and being a great boyfriend - he acted very excited to dive into the bread.
See!! These look like zucchini!
I remember the next part so specifically ... he took a bite and looked at me a bit confused and said it tasted a little like cucumber?? But don't you worry - I remained confidant in my baking ability and told him he was completely wrong and marched into the kitchen and grabbed one of my left over "zucchinis" to show him and prove him wrong! My confidence level plummeted as he grabbed the veggie and told me this was an English cucumber and I just made cucumber bread .... Not very tasty! In my defense, an English cucumber is smooth and resembles a zucchini!

Don't worry though, since then I have gotten a lot more baking experience - and I won't be sharing any recipes for cucumber bread on the blog.

Today I want to share Grandma Hood's Famous Zucchini Bread Recipe and a "healthier" option with less sugar and NO oil! I only took pictures while making the healthier version, so first up is the text for Grandma Hood's tasty bread straight out of the family cookbook!
This recipe makes 2 loaves of bread, so sometimes I cut it in half (1.5 eggs is a little difficult, but it works!). As I said before - this recipe is incredibly delicious, I just wanted to make a few tweaks and make it a bit more healthy!

Healthy Zucchini Bread


I always start by grating my zucchini. I do not have any fancy tools, my stand up metal grater works great! I find that one medium sized zucchini usually produces a little over a cup of grated zucchini.

Great tip: If you have a lot of zucchini laying around, grate all of them and freeze them in 1 cup increments. Then - you can just reach in the freezer and have homemade zucchini bread in the winter!

The zucchini can be a little liquidy, but the liquid is what helps bring the batter together!






Ingredients
  •  1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup low fat milk (almond milk may work?)
  • 1/2 cup vanilla (or plain) greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

 1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease two 8X4 bread pans

** Quirk of mine -- I like to use just one bowl, so I do not follow the directions to mix dry ingredients in one bowl and pour those into the wet ingredients.... therefore, my instructions follow what I did (not what a recipe usually tells you to do).

2) Beat eggs, milk, yogurt, sugar, and vanilla together. Add all of the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

3) Stir in the zucchini and pecans until well combined. I like to sprinkle pecans on top too!

4) Pour the batter into prepared pans (and test it!).

5) Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick or knife inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean - 40 to 60 minutes (mine was about 50 minutes).

6) Cool in pan for around 10 minutes, and then remove the bread and taste the healthy deliciousness!

If you love breads and baked goods really sweet, this bread might not be your favorite - but it was very moist and dense. It definitely satisfied my carby craving! It was especially delicious toasted for a few minutes.

I hope you enjoyed these 2 recipes and let me know if you try them!

What are your favorite summer veggies and your favorite way to prepare them?






Monday, July 14, 2014

Who is officially running the Detroit Marathon!


Hello Everyone! 
I hope you had a great weekend filled with fun, family, and some relaxation. Our weekend (especially Saturday) was jam packed! On Saturday morning I got a long run in with my favorite running group and then we had a tour of the Big House (Michigan's football Stadium), went paddleboarding (more on that later!), and went out to eat at our favorite pizza place in Ann Arbor. 
Sunday was productive and mostly filled with prep for the upcoming week. It was the first Sunday in a while that I started to dread the upcoming week and really did not want the weekend to end... but it was still a good day.

Enough weekend recap ... Let's delve into marathon training and my personal marathon experience for a bit.

I have run 8 marathons -- so you could say I am a bit addicted. 
I have done the following races:
  • Indianapolis Monumental Marathon (Fall) - Love this course! Flat, takes place in November so usually nice and cold, and on a Saturday! I have run it twice!
  • Indianapolis Marathon at Fort Benjamin Harrison  (Fall)- I would not recommend this course to very many people. It is a small race, and the second half is pretty boring
  • St. Louis Go Marathon (Spring) - It was 80 degrees the day I ran this race, so my time was horrible, and the course was actually a lot harder and hilly than I thought
  • Cincinnati Flying Pig (Spring) - I got my PR on this course! This course is hilly and pretty hard, but I loved it. There was great support and the course really showed you Cincy and its suburbs
  • Chicago Marathon (Fall) - I did not love this course and race as much as everyone else. I thought it was too crowded and cramped. It is very flat though!
  • Boston Marathon (Spring) - This course deserves a whole novel! I have a love/hate relationship with it because it is so hard (I have done it twice)! I will say that if you get the opportunity to run it ... you have to do it!
B ran the Flying Pig too - like our bibs?
Since I graduated college in the Spring of 2010 - I have run one marathon every Spring and Fall season. That sounds kind of intense, but I have taken some marathons more "seriously" in regards to my training than others. I usually always sit down and make a training plan, but for some marathons I have been a lot more relaxed about hitting all of my weekly runs -- but for others I have tried really hard and worked in some workouts too. My PR was at the Cincinnati Flying Pig in May 2013, which surprised me because I was not very rigid about my runs and it was a crazy time in my life - I was in the middle of planning our wedding (June 2013), moving, and finding a job. I think this shows that a "good race day" can make a big difference and I felt really good that day. I also felt like I focused on having a positive attitude during this race, and running is 96% mental!


With my friend Emily after the Chicago Marathon
I am excited for the Detroit Marathon this Fall, because I want to put some time and effort into my training and really give it my all! My plan is to run the Detroit Full Marathon this Fall and then take a little bit of time off from full marathons ... maybe race a few half marathons and 10Ks (give my body a little break from the 20 + mile long runs).
This weekend I had a little bit of a shock when I sat down to work out a training plan for the Detroit Marathon and realized it is only 14 weeks away! Wowowo! 
The good thing is that I have been running consistently, so I am not worried about being in shape - I just need to start upping the distance and running with a purpose instead of going on random runs. 

For all of my past marathons, I have based my training plans around Hal Higdon's free training plans. I usually make modifications, but I like his format and his long run distances. 

Here is my rough training plan for the Detroit Marathon on October 19th.


For this plan, I went off of Hal Higdon's Advanced Marathon Training Program.
I want to start by saying that I have run 8 marathons and I feel like my body is used to the pounding and torture I put it through .... and I can handle high mileage, but I would not recommend running this high of mileage to any beginner! If you are interested in help with your own training plan (for any distance), please contact me!!

To explain the plan in a nutshell -
Sundays and Tuesdays - Run easy and lower distances - I have to admit ... sometimes it is hard to go out and just run 3 miles... sometimes I will do 4 or 5 on these days. I always strive to keep it easy though so my legs get a chance to recover
Mondays  -  Run at an easy pace, but I will run higher mileage (this gets a little hard because I always run in the mornings and have to wake up extra early for the extra miles- but I have amazing runner buddies that wake up crazy early and get my butt out of bed too!).
Wednesdays - Workouts - either a hill workout or a tempo run or occasionally I am hoping to motivate myself to do a track workout. I could see some of those 800s becoming tempo runs and I am ok with that! More info on tempo runs and other running specifics at a later date.
Thursdays - Rest days
Fridays - Longer runs and some Fridays I will try and pick it up a bit and run at my marathon race pace. I will do this on my higher mileage/more intense weeks.
Saturdays - LONG runs! I try and meet up with an amazing group in Ann Arbor called PR Fitness for my long runs!
Indianapolis Marathon - one of my favorites!
In this plan I am doing two 20 mile runs. There is always a big controversy over running more than 20 miles and I have to admit, I think I am in the not over 20 mile "long run" camp.
I feel like getting in a 22 or 23 mile long run does more harm than good. I do not think the extra miles will help at all and it will just tear down your body even more. I have done both in preparation for a marathon and I think I will stick to running 20 miles as my longest run. In the race, you run the last 6 miles with your guts and your mind anyways!


Well - this post is getting long, as you can see ... I love running and talking about running. I plan to do many more posts on running and racing in the future! Also, I will check in occasionally and let you guys know how the training is going (and you guys can hold me accountable for doing the weekly workouts!).


But how was your weekend? Also, any races or big events coming up for you?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Who hates the treadmill ...

Celebrate! Celebrate! You made it to Friday!
I am a big believer in celebrating accomplishments big and small (it makes life fun - and it is an excuse for champagne), and I try to not always celebrate with food -- so instead I will celebrate with.....

Dreadmill Cardio Workout

I truly hate the treadmill, I find it boring and time slows down when I am on the treadmill, because one mile feels soooo long! But - this past Monday morning I woke up for my usually AM run and there was a horrible thunderstorm. Therefore, I had to move on to plan B - which was running on the treadmill in the little indoor gym at our condo complex. Since I simply cannot run 4-5 miles straight on the treadmill I made up a workout that left me sweaty and tired ... so I thought I would share it with you.

1) Run 1 mile on the Treadmill (with the following pacing)
  • 2 minutes at warm up pace (varies for everyone, conversational, easy)
  • 2 minutes at race pace (breathing hard but not sprinting - could sustain for a whole race)
  • 1 minute sprint 
  • Repeat time cycle until you have run a full mile
2) Step off the treadmill and do the following cardio/strength drills (click on the exercise for a demo)
3) Repeat the mile on the treadmill and the drills (each round will be around 15 minutes depending on your running pace)
  • Keep alternating the paced mile and the drills until you reach your desired distance     
** Once you have finished, make sure you leave time to stretch, because this workout is tough on the legs! **
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This workout broke up the monotony of the treadmill running and managed to give me a quick arm workout too! I ran 4 miles total and ended with running, so I did 3 rounds of the drills.

Also, if it is a beautiful day outside and you still want to do a similar workout - you can modify this workout and just run outside. It would be like a running boot camp ... run a mile (or pick a time if you do not have garmin, such as 8 minutes) and then stop and do the drills, and then start running again. 

Since it is Friday, it means it is weekend time! Any fun weekend plans? 
We are in town this weekend and I have multiple random activities planned - such as a tour of the Big House (Michigan's Football Stadium), and possibly going paddle boarding or a long bike ride with B! I have never gone paddle boarding, so I will obviously report back! 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Whose husband is officially a 2nd year resident!

B and I celebrating our 1st Anniversary
This blog is focused on living a healthy and happy life!
A huge part of finding my happy life is my hubby! (I want to do multiple posts on our relationship and wedding at a later date).

But I cannot mention B without discussing orthopedic residency! Also, I think residency and being a resident wife is such an interesting topic - so I know it will pop up a lot on the blog.

I should have posted this last Tuesday (July 1st), because that is when it became official - but B is officially a 2nd year resident! He survived intern year! Only 4 more years of residency left! Break out the champagne!

For those not familiar with the medical world, in a nutshell - B went to 4 years of medical school in Indiana, and in his last year of medical school he went through a "match process" and matched into orthopedic surgery at University of Michigan. After graduating medical school he is officially a doctor, he just cannot do much yet - so on July 1st last year Brandon started a 5 year residency, and at the end he will be an official orthopedic surgeon! (There will probably be a one year fellowship to specialize - but that is getting into the nitty gritty).

Residency is tough and intense, especially surgical residencies! We knew it would be a bumpy road, but even with all of the long days, (I am typing this at 8:30pm on Monday and B is not home yet )... B is doing what he loves and knows he is in the right spot and I am trying to support him along the way! I hear through the grapevine that 2nd year is the toughest ... so wish us luck and give both of us patience and give him some sleep!

Since we survived year one, I wanted to reflect back by answering 4 questions I found on a blog called The Mitten Wife. Meredith is the author of The Mitten Wife and she is a fellow resident wife (just finished year 2!). She has been amazingly helpful to me since I moved to Ann Arbor and started this journey! Hopefully these questions will give you a peek into the medical training world, and I can look back and remember these years and how we made it through together.


What were some of your expectations before residency? 

I knew residency was going to be tough, so I expected long nights and working a lot of weekends. I also expected a bit of exhaustion for B. It has lived up to its expectations in all of those regards and more! Especially at the beginning, because B had a lot of tough rotations right off the bat, so during those months, I could call a week successful if I managed to get B fed and do a load of laundry.
I also did not think it would consume our lives this much. I knew it would take up a lot of time, but our lives revolve around his residency. It has become part of our identity.
B and I adopting our new team! Go Blue!

What has been the biggest challenge?

I would say there have been 2 big challenges for me and they go hand in hand.  First, B and I moved here last July and I knew absolutely no one. Making friends and finding a community is a lot harder as an adult! B had an instant group of friends with his fellow residents (and he has no real time for fun anyways ...), but I felt like I had to work to make connections. I went on a few friend "dates" which just felt funny and forced. 
I will say that the running community has been a blessing. I found a running group that welcomed me with open arms and many amazing running partners that have become good friends! I am also excited to get more involved in our church and deepen some relationships there too. I am still finding my groove and I still want to find more couple friends - so if there are any takers who want to be our friends ... please reach out =)

A second challenge is figuring out a balance of my time. When we first moved here, I felt like I was just sitting at home waiting for B to come home and I hated (with a capital H) that feeling. I wanted to find my own hobbies, so I dove into the community head first and filled up my plate with becoming a group exercise teacher, Junior League, friend dates, and more. Then, I felt almost too busy because there were times when B was home and I was off doing my own thing. I felt guilty that I was not spending time with B when he had the cherished time off. I still struggle with this, and I get tempted to cancel commitments when I get the chance to see B. I can't complain because wanting to spend more time with my loving husband does not really seem like a problem ... but it is hard to find a balance with finding my own community and path, while also wanting to be there for my husband at the drop of a hat.

What is the best advice you would give someone whose spouse or significant other is just beginning?

A message B left me when he was on nights 
One huge, important word - expectations! Have realistic expectations and make sure your spouse or significant other who is in residency is communicating and setting realistic expectations. 

I bet every significant other of a resident has a similar story - B just started residency and mentioned that he thought he would be home around 6pm. I wanted to be an amazing wife (we are still newlyweds ...), and I made an awesome dinner that included all of his favorite things! I had it all set and ready to go by 6pm.... and no B? And then 7pm rolls around and B is still not home and I have not heard from him ... and then finally 8pm rolls around and he said he will be home in 30 minutes. 
By that point, I am furious at him and all the food is put away (or I ate it all myself ...). He comes home completely exhausted to a mean wife and no dinner.

This scenario can be avoided if realistic expectations are set! It is not B's fault that he got home late, and I have no reason to actually be mad at him ... but since he told me 6pm, I expected him then and was extremely disappointed when things fell through. Avoiding disappointment is the key to residency, so set realistic (or even low) expectations. 
She is always there for me!
B and I try to have a little system. He tries to text me around 5pm or 6pm with a very rough estimation of when he might be home. I take that time with a grain of salt, but it helps with planning, and then he does not text me again until he is walking out of the hospital - that way there is no one that can grab him for "one last thing." Also, I have found that dinners that can be made in 20 minutes are perfect, because then things do not get cold =) 

Also, get a dog or a pet! Yosey has been such a great companion for me and I know B looks forward to her enthusiastic greetings when he gets home from a long work day too!

How do you continue to support your spouse/SO?

I think just keeping an upbeat attitude and being a good listener are the best ways to support your significant other! Residency can beat anyone down, so I try to always have an upbeat attitude when B walks in the door and a listening ear. Even though I usually do not understand everything he says about his day, I want him to feel like he can vent to me or brag about himself to me! 
Also, I always make sure he is fed! He lost some weight when he first started residency, and I try to avoid that by packing his lunches and cooking nutritious dinners. 

The biggest point I want you to leave with is that I am incredibly proud of my husband for finding what he loves to do and for helping people (and as corny as it sounds - saving lives!).  Sometimes this residency thing sucks and sometimes I struggle with my own path and identity - but it is a journey and we are together! 

 Anyone out there have any experience or comments about residency or the medical community? 







Monday, July 7, 2014

Who tried 2 new fitness classes ...

Before we get to our regularly scheduled blogging, I wanted to update you on the future schedule of the blog. I think quality is more important than quantity for this blog, so I am going to be blogging on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I am hoping to have some guest bloggers pop in on Tuesdays and Thursdays too! The easiest way to get the newest posts is to sign up on the right to get emails =)
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It was definitely hard to get up and get ready for work this morning! Mondays after a holiday weekend are just cruel!

But, after my work trip to Boston, I have a lot of follow up to do, so hopefully today goes by quickly and is productive.

Speaking of my work trip to Boston, I wanted to share some highlights with you. When I travel for work my days are filled with meetings, but sometimes my meetings are in cool locations. For example, I got to go down to Mystic, Connecticut (about 2 hours south of Boston) to meet an alum for lunch.

The area was gorgeous  - right on the Long Island Sound with sailboats everywhere. I love the smell of salt water and that sticky feeling you get near the ocean. Mystic is known for having the largest maritime museum too (I did not have time to go through it).

Beside touring Connecticut, I also made time for TWO new workouts while I was in  Boston. On Tuesday evening I went to a cute, local boutique gym called Btone  to take a class called Tone & Blast. The first 20 minutes of the class were on a machine called a Megaformer, which is described on their website as, "representing a significant evolution of the traditional Pilates reformer. It is designed to cater to both upper and lower body muscles, using a system of springs and pulleys to accomodate the resisteance and counter-resistance elements of the workout." 
Everything was new to me, but I feel like I caught on quickly and got a great workout on the machine. You had to use your core to balance you a lot which I loved! The last 30 minutes of the class were at the barre - but it was very different than a typical barre class... I was SWEATY! It was a lot of cardio and quick moves. I liked it because it was a great contrast to the slow, deliberate moves on the megaformer. 

The second workout I squeezed in on Wednesday morning, I woke up early to check out the November Project . It was probably one of the coolest workout experiences ever - and I think it will be hard for me to describe. Their website states it well - "November Project™ is a grassroots FREE fitness movement that was born in Boston as a way to stay in shape during cold New England months. Now present in multiple cities in across four time zones in North America, the movement is using a simple sense of accountability to motivate and encourage people of all ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels to get out of their beds and get moving."


The group meets 3 mornings a week in Boston, and each morning the group meets at a different location and does a different workout. On Wednesday mornings they meet at Harvard Stadium and do stairs. I consider myself to be in shape, but this workout kicked my butt! You run up the big stairs and come down the little stairs, and let me tell you the big stairs were HUGE!  As a newbie, we started at section 37 and went to section 19 ... does sound too bad, but my legs were shaking sooooo bad by the end! Veterans went all the way to Section 14 AND back ... cannot imagine.

The whole group that was there for the morning workout! See me??
So the workout was tough, but what made it such an amazing experience were the people. The November Project was started by 2 guys -Bojan and Brogan - and they have SO much energy -  it is contagious. They really stress that the movement is about creating a sense of community. As a newbie, I had to introduce myself to people and also give 3 people big bear hugs. Sounds silly, but it was so much fun.
Lastly,  I knew there would be a lot of people there - but there were at least a 100... but it did not feel cramped because everyone went at their own pace and spread out. 

If you imagine doing a really tough workout with over 100 people encouraging each other ... that is what November Project is all about, and it is such a cool idea! Look to see if there is a branch in your city by going to their website!

It was a pretty busy trip, but also pretty amazing! 

Have you tried any new workouts recently? And how was your 4th of July?








Friday, July 4, 2014

Who wishes you Happy 4th of July!


I want to wish everyone a Happy 4th of July! 
I hope everyone gets to celebrate America and our freedoms with family and friends today! I will be celebrating with my whole family (5 nieces and nephews!) and eating some good BBQ food =)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Who learns a lot from her puppy ...

Happy Thursday everyone ... but because this is 4 day week ... HAPPY FRIDAY!! WhooooHooo - Love holidays and 3 day weekends! 

I just got back from Boston and plan to do a little recap of my trip next week (I can't wait to tell you about 2 new fitness classes I tried)! Today, I am catching up on work and then packing up and making food for a family 4th of July weekend in Louisville with my whole family. It is awesome that B has the weekend off and can come too!!

So - this is a health/fitness themed blog, but I also want to give peeks into my everyday life and let you get to know my family too! One important part of our little family is our puppy, Yosey! 

Yosey is wise beyond her years (even her dog life years), and I want to share her wisdom with you guys ... therefore, I decided I am going to do occasional posts called "Lessons from Yosey." They will be somewhat related to health and fitness and hopefully they will make you smile and also make an impact =)

Lessons from Yosey

#1) To live a happy and balanced life, it is essentially to let loose and splurge every once in a while by enjoying a drink (especially microbrews!) or your favorite dessert! 

Do not worry - we do not let our puppy drink ...

BUT - Make sure you live in moderation and don't go overboard!


#2) Always make staying active a priority - even in the dead of winter!


BUT - there are some days that you just want to chill and relax, and that is ok too! You always need rest days!


#3) It is important to study and work hard to achieve your dreams (such as growing up to be a doctor like your Daddy!).


Yosey knows best!

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Disclaimer

I am not a registered dietitian (yet). My blog is simply a snapshot of my everyday life. The views I express are mine alone, based on my own experiences, and should not be taken as medical advice. Though I am a certified fitness instructor, the workouts I post may not be right for you. Please speak with a medical professional before making any changes to your current routine.