Archive for the ‘fitness’ Category

  • An update

    Date: 2011.03.02 | Category: fitness | Response: View Comments

    Time is really getting away from me and I hadn’t realized it had been so long since I updated here!

    The half marathon training is going ok.  I had an awesome 10 mile run last time I wrote, and I should have knocked on wood because I struggled to maintain that pace for a 6 mile run this last weekend.  Typical.

    This Monday I had an assessment with a personal trainer.  I did this for a couple of reasons: 1) To find out my body fat % and 2) To see if signing up with a trainer would help me reach my goals and reinforce accountability.

    I found out a few things:

    • personal trainers are really expensive, and I feel guilty for spending this much on myself
    • that my body fat was lower than I expected, but I don’t think it’s accurate because they tested me on a body fat scale that looked like this.  Here’s an article on why Consumer Reports doesn’t think these kinds of scales are accurate.  The problem is, how does a regular person like me (who basically wants to spend next to nothing to get this info) get their body fat tested accurately?   
    • personal trainers are probably used to training people that know hardly anything about food/nutrition.  She asked me if I had ever had a sweet potato. 
    • I can do 22 regular pushups before needing to stop.  She actually said it was “excellent”.  I’ll take it! :)

    The next time I meet with her, I get an actual workout.  The appointment I had on Monday was mostly talking.  Once a week, I’m going to see her to check in on my progress and get a workout.  Hopefully this will keep me motivated, however I haven’t really been doing that awesome yet.

    As I texted my friend last night, “I’m really bad at dieting, but really good at eating Ben & Jerry’s.”

    Speaking of health numbers, yesterday I got my cholesterol checked and was glad to hear it’s normal.  About 6 years ago, when I was in law school, my cholesterol was 215, which is considered “borderline high.”  Read here to learn more about cholesterol numbers.  At the time, I was not overweight, but I exercised only sporadically, was usually stressed out to high heavens, didn’t eat that well, and a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol made my lifestyle a problem. 

    Now, I exercise 3-4 times a week and think that I eat better (but definitely far from perfect).  The last time I had my cholesterol checked a few years ago, it was right around 180. 

    But, I was especially interested to see how my cholesterol fared because since the beginning of December, I have been playing around with Paleo and Primal eating.  That means eating more meat (including red meat), lots of eggs, and other animal protein, and eating sources of saturated fat while avoiding wheat, soy, and any grains (which sounds like a recipe for high cholesterol).  Oh yeah, and I’ve cooked and eaten more bacon in the last couple of months that I probably have in, well, EVER.  Frankly, I was a little worried about how that would affect my cholesterol.

    But – good news.  My cholesterol as of yesterday is 185.  My good cholesterol is 95 (which is excellent) and my bad is 80 (which isn’t awesome, but according to this calculator, it’s in the optimal range).  I’ve been reading that saturated fat is not necessarily evil, and I’m starting to believe it.  I definitely plan to continue to check on my cholesterol and make sure I’m doing okay.  I wonder if there is a way to do this without going to my doctor?  Anyone know?

    So… Questions for you readers:

    * Does it surprise you that all saturated fats may not be as bad as we think?

    * Do you know your body fat %?  Do you think it even matters?

    Thanks for reading!  Even if you disagree with me, I hope you got some food for thought here! :)

  • How to open a coconut, throw it out, and burn it

    Date: 2011.02.01 | Category: fitness, recipe, running | Response: View Comments

    Today I stayed at home due to the weather conditions.  If you’re in the Midwest, you probably know what I’m talking about: sleet, ice, snow, blizzard warnings, state emergencies being declared, National Guard being called, power outages being feared.  It’s safe to say we’ve worked ourselves into a panic.  It has been sleeting all day in St. Louis and there is a sheet of ice covering everything.

    With a little time on my hands, I decided to open a coconut.


    There are a million different ways to open one.  I decided to go the simple route and take the back end of a knife (the non-blade end) and whack it in an imaginary line around the middle, turning the coconut.


    I got lucky and one of my hits made the shell come off.


    There was some coconut water in the center, but I think that stuff is vile so I didn’t bother to save it.  Then, using a sharp paring knife, I cut the meat into sections and took them out little by little.  Soon, I had a real mess on my hands.


    The brown bits on the coconut meat above still needed to be removed and cleaned so I went about that.  It was during this time when I realized there was something off about the coconut.  I finished the process anyway.


    Then I googled, “How do you know if a coconut is bad?” and the answer was “Taste it.”

    So I did.  And it was not good.

    At this point I wanted lunch.  With coconut in it.  I had my belly set on something like this (Thai Coconut Butternut Squash Soup).

    Thank heavens for coconut in the can.


    Also, God Bless Trader Joes for being the only place where I can find canned butternut squash.  I love the taste of roasted vegetables as much as anyone, but when I’m just going to throw it all in a soup, canned is so much more convenient.

    I started making the soup by adding diced onion, ginger and garlic to a dutch oven with oil in it.


    Then I added red curry paste – I had this on hand thanks to the Real Simple cookthrough I did last fall.  I bought a lot of spices in that period and it makes me happy when I can use the more uncommon ones again!


    This soup was done in no time at all.  For garnish, I toasted some shredded coconut (yes I also have some already in a bag.  I’m crazy).  I completely burned it to a crisp the first time. 

    Mark doesn’t know I’m cooking until the smoke alarms go off.


    The soup was good.  I added a lot more curry paste than the recipe called for, but it was still subtle.


    Next time, I think I would reduce the broth – perhaps nix it entirely – and increase the milk.  I like my soup a little bit creamier.


    And a salad on the side.

    This morning I did my first training run for my 2011 race season.  I have signed up for the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon in April, and the Lincoln Half Marathon in May.  I also have my sights set on a triathlon in June.  I just need to get more confident about my swimming.

    Anyway – that was a tangent – my run was great.  I did four 400 meter repeats at 7:05 pace, followed with some easier running for a total of 5.5 miles.  I’m following the FIRST plan once again because I’ve had so much success with it in the past, and because I have triathlons on the brain.

    Tomorrow I’m going to explain how to run faster. Smile

  • Swim & stew

    Date: 2011.01.06 | Category: fitness, recipe | Response: View Comments

    I made a colossal mess making this recipe.  I am not really sure why, but my kitchen was scary for about an hour.  So what did I make?

    Ground turkey and bean stew from Kayln’s Kitchen.  I substituted 2 jalapeño peppers for the Anaheim green chiles that the recipe calls for, but in retrospect I could have added more – it definitely wasn’t hot. 


    The stew does have a really strong flavor – citrusy, bright, but hearty.  The strong flavors come from the jalapenos,  lime juice, cilantro, and the earthy refried beans.


    I couldn’t resist but add some chili pepper at the end… Mark and I like a kick.


    On the side, I made Mexican slaw, also from Kayln’s kitchen.  This was my first time ever making slaw.  I couldn’t find whole cabbage at Trader Joe’s (their produce section kind of stinks) but I did find green cabbage in a bag.  Now I’m kicking myself for complaining about that because it made this side dish a few steps faster!


    For my hot sauce in the dressing, I used good old-fashioned Tabasco sauce.  The lime in the dressing makes this slaw really bright and tart, but like I said earlier – Mark likes strong flavors.  And I like easy dishes. Smile


    And now… a product review.  For Christmas, my mother in law got me a lap counter for swimming.  No matter how hard I try, I cannot seem to keep accurate count of my laps!  This lap counter is TINY.  I didn’t even know they made them this small!


    The strap fits around one finger.


    Every time I swam a lap, I hit the large button with my thumb.


    I was curious to see if it would slip or fall off, but it didn’t at all.  The only thing I have to remember now is to hit the button when I finish a lap!

    So yes, I did 21 laps and I’m not even going to say how long that took me.  I had to stop after each lap to catch my breath.  I think it’s just kind of like running where I need to find my pace and relax.  It will probably take a few more trips to the pool but I’m hoping I’ll get to the point where I can swim without stopping.

    If you have swimming tips, throw them my way!

  • A Two-fer and a Spin class

    Date: 2010.12.20 | Category: fitness, recipe | Response: View Comments

    It’s only Monday but I have a two-fer for you!  I had a couple of cooking adventures and haven’t shared them yet.  Life gets busy around the holidays doesn’t it?

    My weekend highlights include:

    • Watching Tron in 3D Hot smile
    • Going to a friend’s holiday party.  Mark gave a Susan Boyle Christmas CD for the white elephant exchange.  Hilarious Note
    • Went to a spin class with Mark for the first time ever. Rolling on the floor laughing
    • Got chewed out by a crazy ^&*((%$ at Target for putting my basket on the conveyor belt Vampire bat
    • Watched the Rams play the Chiefs Goat (That’s a goat but it’s close right?)
    • Watched Black Swan Filmstrip

    A good time was had by all.  Now, onto the food.

    The first recipe was what I call Sante Fe Chicken Casserole.


    3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts

    2 chopped bell peppers (I used one orange, one green, for color)

    1 can of drained, rinsed black beans

    1/2 cup chopped onion

    Canned, prepared salsa to taste (you could use a whole jar if you wanted to)

    Shredded cheese (I used monterey jack but cheddar or mozzarella would be good too)

    I poached the chicken in a pot of water and let it cool.


    Then I roasted the veggies in a hot oven.


    Roast them until tender or for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees.  Meanwhile, I chopped the poached chicken.


    I added some cheese and the chicken to the hot veggies and stirred.  You can use however much cheese you want – I probably added 1/2 to 3/4 cup, and then added even more on top.  I like cheese Ninja  (Ninjas like cheese.)


    Popped it back in the oven for 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is all melty.


    I added sour cream to the top, but didn’t really need to.  The salsa I used was on the milder side.  I hate when that happens.

    Last night I made Shrimp & spaghetti squash scampi with roasted green beans.  The green beans stole the show.  I roasted them in the oven for 30 minutes at 425 with olive oil, salt, and GARLIC GOLD.  It was really good.


    I added parmesan to the shrimp.  I cannot go one meal without eating cheese.


    Tonight I think I might just have some tomato soup (from a box) or something light since I don’t feel very hungry. 

    You might have noticed that earlier I nonchalantly mentioned that I went to my first spin class ever this weekend.  Mark went with me and he had never gone before either.  The instructor was nice and got us both set up properly. The spin bikes had clipless pedals so I was able to use my bike shoes. One of the fears I had is that I would hurt myself (because I heard it was really hard) or not be able to breathe in the enclosed room with a bunch of sweaty people, not to mention the perennial fear that I would look stupid.  The room was not hot, and I took it easy on myself.  Other than a little pain in my tailbone (and I had bike shorts on), I didn’t feel sore the next day.  I did feel really hungry by the time we were done. 

    The spin class instructor was dressed in a Santa suit and I thought the class had a lot of energy.  My fears about looking stupid were put to rest when she showed up in that.   I liked the music too – I was really afraid it was going to be all Christmas music when she showed up in that get-up.  I would definitely go back!  It’s fun to try new things. I just wish I had tried it earlier. 

    Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to try something new! 

  • You Don’t Have To

    Date: 2010.11.04 | Category: fitness, real simple cookthrough, running | Response: View Comments

    It is so close to Friday that I can feel it.  Can you?

    Workout: A lot of times I complain to my friends or husband that I don’t “feel” like working out before a workout.  Usually I’m looking for an a little bit of enabling and permission to skip it.  Today I complained to my friend Robin that I didn’t “feel” like running today and she said, “You don’t have to.”  She was right.  I didn’t have to.  But I could, and I had no good excuse not to.  Ironically, she gave me permission not to work out, and that was motivation enough to do it.  I did it not because I felt like it, but because I could and because it’s good for me.  And you know what? I’m glad I did.  I did 5.4 miles on the treadmill.

    Food:  Tonight’s menu was Seared Steak and Cauliflower Puree, with a side of “fries.”  I am a little afraid of cooking meat, especially steak.  I don’t feel like I know what I’m doing.  I’m glad the Real Simple recipes have featured a lot of steak because it’s helping me feel more comfortable cooking it.IMG_9676

    Tonight’s recipe I worked with a New York strip steak and I added regular and sweet potato fries.  If not for the fries, this meal would have taken me 15 minutes to make.  The hint is to steam frozen cauliflower in the microwave.  When I have the option of steaming in the stove v. steaming in the microwave – microwave always wins.



    The steak turned out really well.  Even Mark said it was good.


    Ada was not happy with her kibble tonight. 


    It’s rough being a dog!

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My name is Michelle and I like to write about running, food, and fitness in general. Check out my About Michelle section for more!




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