Monday, March 31, 2014

why do we do it?

My sisters just got to spend  a quick (less than 24 hours) day with the Michigan branch of the family. They spent the time kissing Brody, playing with Ella, drinking wine, and visiting with Aly and Alex. I would be a little more envious if I hadn't just seen Brody a few weeks ago, and if Aly wasn't flying back to Nebraska tomorrow. I do miss having spring break with my teacher sisters, though - darn job.

But anyway, I was visiting with Aly late this afternoon, and she said that Gail asked her why she was training for a half-marathon (she and Emmy are doing the Chicago Rock-n-Roll Half in July) when her body hurts. We talked about it a bit, and everyone has their own reasons. You'll need to follow their blogs, Here Comes Happiness and The Swallow Flies to learn about their journeys, but it really made me stop and think. Seriously. Or srsly:

couldn't help it. i haven't posted this guy in awhile and he cracks me up!

All kidding aside, my body is orthopaedically a wreck - although it has been fixed and put back together a number of times. For a 58-year-old I'm, well, okay. I was always an athletic kid; one of the first picked for teams in elementary school, and I was pretty fast. Then puberty hit, and back then, girls couldn't play organized sports. My school had a basketball team that started in my junior or senior year in high school, but by then I had a job (and was fat). But in the past several years, I have done things that I just didn't know I could. Half-marathon? Cathy Harder from Aberdeen? 

How can I explain to someone the excitement of being at a race, much less being in one? I get tears in my eyes when I am just a spectator! The old grandpa in his Dockers at last year's race, the grandma in her jeans. Well, then there are the Kenyans, but also everyone in between. (Where I am for the time being, before I get to be that little old grandma who is inspiring everyone.) 

Having a goal keeps me accountable. I would be too easy for me to just think - and read this in a whiny voice - "I don't feel like working out today." It would be really easy to just take a nap. But I know if I don't put in the time, I will pay for it. Big time.

Take this weekend, for example. I had a 10-miler scheduled, so went out and hit the trail. It ended up being 10.16 thankyouverymuch, and the last two miles were pretty much awful. I came home and told Dwight that I think I broke an ovary because every step I took it felt like something was stabbing me in my lower left abdomen. Dr. Dwight thought it was a groin pull and his treatment involved taking advil. Me, not him. (Although sometimes I think he wants to: I told him there wasn't much running at the end except when I came upon people who were walking slower than I was. I told him I had to jog around them so they wouldn't think I was eavesdropping on their conversations or stalking them. He just paused, looked at me, and said, "What goes on in your head?" I told him he just didn't want to know.)

So getting into my car was pretty hilarious. First of all, after I do more than three miles or so, my right knee doesn't like to bend. I opened up the car, grabbed my right thigh to lift my leg into the car, then realized omg my broken ovary won't let me pull my left leg into the car. I kinda sat on my hip and rolled in, all the while laughing hysterically at myself (if it didn't hurt so much). But a little ice, a lot of advil, some rest, and I'm ready to go again. 

All this doesn't answer Gail's question to Aly. I guess the short answer is because - right now - I can.

Some breakfasts:

2 scrambled eggs, half an avocado, berries, and salsa

2 hardboiled eggs, a carrot cake vitatop, and an orange
 An actual lunch:

chicken sandwich, carrot sticks, and cucumber kimchi

My hours at work have changed this past month; instead of going in at noon, I go in at 11:00. I was okay eating lunch at 11 when I had to be in at noon, but I just can't eat lunch at 10. I'm trying to figure it out. At first I brought a sandwich and some yogurt, but I am busy with my hands all the time so can't really take a break to sit down. After some trial and error, what I figured out was to eat a pretty substantial breakfast and take something portable and non-sticky for lunch. Not an apple. But carrot sticks and sugar snap peas work well, along with a (don't judge me now) Special K chocolate mocha protein shake. I tell you, it is 190 calories of deliciousness.

A snack:

green monster: 8 oz almond-coconut milk, handfuls of spinach, scoop of  vanilla protein powder, about a teaspoon of chi seeds, a banana, and a glob of plain fat-free yogurt

Some dinners:

taco night: sour cream (actually nonfat yogurt), vegetarian refried beans, lettuce, cheese, salsa, diced avocado, tomatoes, taco meat with jalapenos, and some taco sauce. for some reason i just love this stuff. i think it reminds me of taco john's, which was a popular spot in high school

blackened shrimp, roasted sweet potato wedges, and brussels sprouts sauteed with shallots

Time to go spend some quality TV-watching time with my husband.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

random randomness

Here are a few things that aren't enough to make an entire post about in themselves, so they're getting all mushed together.

I follow Pope Francis on Instagram - and he actually posts! Well, probably his minions do it, but I love this guy!

A bad habit I'm trying to break: I leave my shoes scattered all over the house, and then can't find the pair I want. I picked these up the other day - from Uggs to flipflops to slippers to running shoes and a few pairs in between. Golf sandals, flats, tall boots:  you get the picture. The only thing I'm allowing myself to leave out is a pair of flipflops by the front door so I can run out and check the mail. And maybe my slippers by the couch. 

what a slob

Yummy food:

dwight stopped by the asian grocery yesterday

LOVE these!
another find at the asian grocery. omg

Lunch and my favorite lunch bag:

yogurt with granola, water, kombucha, carrots and snap peas (notice the blue ice in the lid?)

packed and ready to go

My game plan today, since the weather is supposed to be nice this afternoon, is to get a long run in (planning on 10 miles). This may be the last spring race that I do; who knew winter would be such a difficult season to train in?!?!

We're going to Oak Hills tonight for Burgers-n-Brews - I'm planning on sitting if I do all that running.

And I'll leave you with this text photo Dwight and  I got yesterday, with the message that "someone loves his nana and papa!" Melts my heart!!!

Happy Saturday!
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Friday, March 28, 2014

three thanks - what else, a day late

Two of my most favorite blogs, The Swallow Flies (written by Emily) and Here Comes Happiness (written by Aly) have invited their readers to join them on Thursdays in writing about three things we are thankful for. And since I'm related to both of them, count me in. Only on Friday this week. And I'm being very specific - three things I was (am) incredibly thankful for yesterday.

#1. This guy:

tough-guy bouncer at erin's prom

Dwight would have to be #1 on my gratitude list on any day, any time. Without him, everything else that I love and hold dear in this life would be meaningless - or nonexistent. Take today, for example: I needed to go to Costco after work, so got home a little later than usual, about 4:00. He met me at the door with a gin and tonic. Now, day drinking is not a good lifestyle choice, but every now and then having a cocktail with my husband in the middle of rainy afternoon is just what is needed. No TV or other distractions (unless you count a cat on my lap), just sitting and visiting and laughing and catching up. And then, after dinner, he went to the Dairy Queen and came home with a small peanut butter cup blizzard for me. See - thankful!!!

#2. My hairdresser, Troy.
I warned you - I was being specific. Yesterday was cut and color day. I was getting ready to head to One Drake Place, and Dwight said "Didn't you just get your hair colored? I thought you did that twice a year." Seriously, so clueless, and obviously unobservant. I told him I have to go every six weeks, and he (Mr. Natural) said, "You don't have to go." I was telling Aly this on my way to get my hair done, and she said that yes, I do have to go - for my self-esteem. Always the counselor, and always the truth!

[The only pictures I have of Troy are back in his drag queen days, but you have seen enough of me to know what a good job he does!]

I got a lot of mileage out of Dwight's comment, and when I was telling it to Troy, he just said, "Oh Honey. We'll just keep doing the color."  I asked him what my real hair color would be now, and he said pretty much all white in the front and kind of ashy blonde in the back. Maybe I'll go natural someday, but that's not how I see myself right now. Plus, I kind of like getting new color every six weeks. I walked into work after getting done yesterday, and one of the stylists said, "Ooooh Cathy - sexy and sassy!" (Also thankful for my co-workers!)

#3. Rain.
The forecast for yesterday was a light drizzle in the morning, and then temps in the mid-50's the rest of the day. However, it was pouring and 37 degrees when I was on my way home from Costco in the late afternoon - which made my wearing sandals a bad choice. (But I looked cute). Unlike most of the country, we have been so dry here. Our driveway guy comes to plow whenever we have more than two inches, and he was only here twice this winter. Needless to say, we needed the moisture. With all the rain, plus the 60's and 70's forecast for this weekend will make our gardens look like this pretty soon:

Here's to warm and sunny days!

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Monday, March 24, 2014

indian, korean, and some "running"

As I mentioned in my last post, we were invited for an Indian dinner with some friends. I knew it would be wonderful, but I had no idea just how wonderful. First of all, Karla and Sam set the tone with their beautiful table:

Even their back yard is beautiful and peaceful:

I can just imagine looking out at this while drinking tea in my bathrobe

I don't even know where to start with the food. I'll just let the pictures do the talking.

and what to drink? beer beer and more beer

cauliflower, something with chickpeas and tomatoes

dal, something with baby eggplants

more dal(?), saag paneer (with tofu instead of the paneer)

two kinds of rice and ?????

grilled lamb

i tried to take just a little of everything, but my plate was still full

and some of us even had authentic clothes from india

There were four couples, and everyone contributed something. I brought what our family calls Indian cauliflower, but what Madhur Jaffrey calls Cauliflower With Fennel and Mustard Seeds, or baghari phool gobi.

Many, many years ago, I spent the day at a friend's house learning how to cook Indian food. It was so long ago that our little kids were playing Star Trek under the table and the girls were pissed because the boys made them stay in the cargo bay. Anyway, Manju had this book that I tried to find but couldn't anywhere. Fast forward a few years, and when I was going through my mom's cookbooks after she died, what did I find but:

there is a revised version out, but i love this original

doesn't look like much, but it is a taste sensation

You might want to make this, so here is the recipe for Cauliflower With Fennel and Mustard Seeds:

1 large or 1.5 medium cauliflower heads
7 T vegetable oil (I use about 4)
2 tsp whole fennel seeds
1 T whole black mustard seeds (you will probably need to go to a specialty store for these)
1 T very finely minced garlic
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
about 1 tsp salt
4 T water

Cut the cauliflower into delicate flowerets that are no longer than 2 inches, no wider at the head than an inch and about 1/3 inch thick.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. (I go about medium-high). When hot, put in the fennel and mustard seeds. It will take a few minutes, but when the mustard seeds begin to pop, put in the garlic. Stir and fry until the garlic pieces are lightly browned. Add the turmeric and cayenne. Stir once and quickly put in the cauliflower, salt, and about 1/4 cup of water. Stir and cook on medium (med-hi) heat for 6-7 minutes or until cauliflower is just done. It should retain its crispness and there should be no liquid left. If the water evaporates before the cauliflower is done, add a little more.

This recipe serves 6, is delicious reheated the next day, and keeps in the fridge for several days - if you can keep it around that long.

Everyone left the party with leftovers, and all I had to do was make some basmati rice for Sunday dinner. Oh, and whip up another batch of the cauliflower since it was all gone:

even better the next day

Tonight's dinner was something that Emily has been talking about for awhile: Korean short ribs. (Click on her name to take you to the blog post where she discusses it and can get you to the recipe.) All I can say is OMG. Once I found out (from the butcher at the third store that I went to) that short ribs were beef, the directions were pretty simple. I put it all in the crockpot this morning, and it smelled heavenly when I got home from work. They were fall-off-the-bone-melt-in-your-mouth. I am looking forward to leftovers.

literally fell off the bone. if your dog wants these, let me know!

short ribs minus the bones

with some roasted mini-peppers and leftover basmati rice. so much for paleo

And now the running (walking really pretty fast):  After my trips around Zorinsky last Friday afternoon,  I spent Saturday recovering and then headed out on Sunday. What a difference a few days make: I went from capris to long pants, from a tank with a pullover to a tee with a pullover and a jacket and gloves. I wiped my nose on every inch of my sleeves and collar, and had a stripe down my leg from a mis-timed snot rocket. Running is so sexy. But getting a long run and a short run in over the weekend sure feels good.


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Saturday, March 22, 2014

say hello to my leetle friend

This is the best achy muscle tool ever. It's called a Muscle Glide, and I bought it at the expo before the Des Moines marathon, and was worth the $$$ I spent. (It's $59 on the website, but I got a deal for the Special Expo Pricing - just can't remember what it was.) I know it looks like five rollerblade wheels on a stick, and that's probably just what it is. You use it to roll the parts of you that hurt, which for me are my quads and my calves after long runs. I keep it in our master bath so when I wake up in the middle of the night going, "owowow",  I can just get up and fix what hurts. You can even put it between you and the wall to roll your upper back. This for me also hurts after long runs, most likely because the longer I go, the more I hunch up my shoulders. I know lots of people buy foam rollers - which may be my next step, but for me, this is 18 inches of happiness (twss).

I went on an 8.4 mile run (walk) at Lake Zorinsky yesterday. It was 58 degrees, sunny, and WINDY. At the last minute, I threw a jacket in the car, and am I ever glad I did. By the last couple miles, I had pulled my Bondi Band sweatband down over my ears because it was so cold. I was walking along the limestone path on the east dam (not the high one that is exposed to all the elements) and I kept hearing this noise, even through my headphones. I took out an earbud and it was the sound of the waves hitting the rocks. This lake is barely big enough for waves, but we had whitecaps yesterday!

It was a tough workout, so my head started playing fantasies: in the woods, I pretended I was Katniss in the Hunger Games, but then I remembered this:

Not only was the weather less than optimal, but I am still having naggy remnants of this cold that I have had for four weeks. I have a cough that just won't leave; most likely the black lung.

Dwight called when I had one mile left and said some friends wanted to meet us at Jam's for dinner and did I want to go. I factored in the time for my last mile, sitting in the car and recovering, driving home, showering including hair, fixing said hair, makeup, and putting on cute clothes versus whining on the couch in sweatpants, and said "Of course!" While I had the shrimp tostada appetizer that I have pretty much every time we go, I had a wonderful new martini: the Pussy Galore. (Like the Bond Girl, people, get your minds out of the gutter!) It was so good! I know it involved XXX Liqueur and Ruby Red vodka, and was served with a blood orange slice hanging over the rim. I may have to try to perfect this concoction at home.

I have stopped taking pictures of my breakfasts since they're either one of three things: 
1) either toast or a Bagel Thin, topped with peanut butter, with fruit (berries or a banana) on the side
2) protein waffle topped with fruit
3) oatmeal maybe with fruit
If you look back on any of my blog posts, you're most likely to run into them.

Lunches have always been a problem, but here are some that I had this week:

chicken and avocado sandwich on whole wheat with chimichuri spread, and apple slices. and lemon water
half an asian-chicken salad from paradise bakery (with half the dressing)
this one at home: 2-egg omelet with mushroom and 2 slices of bacon inside, leftover veggies from the other night (asparagus and shredded brussels sprouts)
And a dinner:

cod (from the freezer that I had to use up), sauteed shredded brussels sprouts and asparagus with some sriracha

We're going to some friends' tonight for an Indian dinner. Karla and Sam had one several years ago, and we sat on the floor around a low table that they have. I warned them that they may have to hoist me up tonight. I'm bring a cauliflower dish that our family loves. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.


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Thursday, March 20, 2014

a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. or is it?

A few weeks ago I clicked on a "recommended link" on Facebook. (I'm the reason they put those things on your news feed, so I apologize.) It was for the website MindBodyGreen (excellent website, btw, so be sure to "like" it if it shows up in your news feed), and the article that caught my attention was "Why You Don't Need to Count Calories Ever Again". As someone who has been counting calories since she was thirteen, saying I was intrigued is a mild understatement. You can click on the link to read the article in its entirety (which I would recommend if you're interested), or you can read on here to see what I took away from it.

[I should preface all this by saying that yes, I would love to lose some weight - not like Biggest Loser amounts (don't even get me started on that program), but 5-10 pounds. Running would be easier without carting around extra lbs, my clothes would fit better, and (kids: earmuffs!) I want my husband to continue to think I am hot.]

There are only five bullet points in the article (I love bullet points!), and the one that spoke most to me is #2:  Crap is crap, no matter how many calories are involved. "Healthy, nutrient-rich foods will keep hunger at bay, help maintain stable blood sugar levels, minimize cravings, and enable your brain to signal your belly that it's full. Nutrient-poor foods will have the opposite effect, wreaking hormonal havoc, spiking insulin, setting off cravings, dully satiety signals, and encouraging overeating. In other words: nutrient dense foods help keep weight in check naturally, no calculator required."

The article goes on to talk about processed, portion-controlled, "diet" microwavable meals being loaded with chemicals, GMOs, allergenic and inflammatory ingredients - AND not delivering enough of the macronutrients or even volume to make you feel full. I am so guilty of grabbing a Lean Cuisine, when it is just as easy to grab an apple and a PB sandwich (on whole wheat bread, natch) when I'm in a hurry.

(One line that made me snort was about Jared losing all that weight on Subway: "No disrespect, but you have to ask: Just what was Jared living on before he went on his infamous crash sandwich diet?")

So for me, the take-away is eating healthy, real, food, such as "good" fats (coconut oil, avocados, nuts), non-starchy veggies, and healthy protein (fish and lean meat). Eat this until you're full (NOT stuffed, but satiated). The article links to another article: the Top 9 Superfoods. These are: leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, avocados, blueberries, beans, walnuts, wild salmon, chia seeds, and chocolate. I believe I have all of these in my kitchen at this very minute.

I think these are good foods, right: I mean almonds, dark chocolate, sea salt? Genola, these are your fault!

Just out of curiosity, I googled "calorie needs calculator" and clicked on the top search. According to this calculator, at my age, height, and current weight, if I exercise 3 times a week for at least an hour each time (which I do - probably more but I don't want to inflate the calories too much), I need 1839 calories each day to maintain. If I did nothing more than be in a coma (seriously, I calculated my basal metabolic rate), I need 1338 calories a day. Pretty amazing that all of the weight-loss programs recommend around 1200 calories a day. No wonder they don't work for the long term: people get so hungry that they overeat the minute they are "off" the diet. Guilty as charged.

So for now, I am eating the good stuff, minimizing the crap, and not counting calories. The scientist in me wants the data, though, so I will be putting the food in My Fitness Pal just to get the info so I can see where I am in a month. Don't worry, I'll report back.

Breakfast today, along with a big ole cup-o-joe:

like you've never seen this before: MaryLu's protein waffle and some fruit

And here's some motivation to leave you with:

just go do it

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