A Little Bit Of Everything This Week

A busy, hectic week! Monday was MLK Jr. Holiday, so that meant a four day week. However, that four day week felt like forever.

Let me share my week in review!

Monday Day Running and a Hike through My Backyard

Love Nature! Running and Hiking!
Loved hiking after my 5 mile run Monday! Nature reminds us to close our eyes and breathe deeply!

Nature:

  • The joy of playing outside,
  • exploring nature at any age,
  • fresh, natural exercise
  • opportunities,
  • adventure,
  • Nature reminds us to keep an open mind!

Then, the work week started! Tons of coffee and hot lemon water kept me going each morning! 

Starting my day with hot lemon water warms my body and the lemon gets me energized!  Southern Maryland winters are really just cold and rainy, but I enjoy hot beverages each morning on the way to work!

My favorite coffee and almond milk creamer!
My favorite coffee and almond milk creamer!

Middle School Science Homework and Running

The middle of the week consisted of an evening devoted to science homework with my redhead! She is currently in 8th grade!  The homework topic was – “How does the potential and kinetic energy (mechanical energy) change to thermal energy in a Roller Coaster Ride?”  The science homework led my thoughts to running and wondering how runners use potential energy during sprinting and long distance running!  I’m not an expert scientist, but googling, the potential energy of runners did lead to some interesting articles and graphics!  Interesting, scientific thoughts on running found HERE

Running Stride and Kinetic/Potential Energy
Running Stride and Kinetic/Potential Energy

Running and Teaching-Interwoven

As a runner, I always find myself comparing life to running.  Running creates life lessons.  Running teaches us faith, determination, perseverance and pure grit! I feel that running helps me to be a better teacher in the classroom.  In class, I’m teaching my students to stay focused and engaged.  On the road, running, I’m apply those same goals of focus and engagement!

Core Strength Workout at the Gym
Core Strength Workout at the Gym

Despite a busy week of homework and lesson planning, I did make time for the gym!  Focusing on more core fitness workouts! My personal trainer session two weeks ago was very informative! I’m continuing to work on building strength in my hips, glutes and lower legs!

Thursday:

2 mile treadmill run

  • 2 sets of 20 kettle bell squats
  • 2 sets of 15 Bosu ball – hand to elbow planks
  • 2 sets of squats with 12 pound workout ball
  • 2 sets of 15 leg presses on machine with 20 pound weights

Currently Reading and What’s By My Bedside:

Bedside Essentials!
Bedside Essentials!

I am currently reading, Quick Strength for Runners by Jeff Horowitz.  It is a great, informative book with lots of photos geared towards understanding the muscles of the body and how they relate to running.  The book also has tons of photos related to numerous strength training workouts! The book is broken into sections on Standing and Weighted Exercises, as well as, Floor Exercises. Thanks to Sue, who blogs over at This Mama Runs For Cupcakes, for the book suggestion on her website!

The current issue of, Running Times, magazine has a great article on building your connective tissue to run stronger and avoid injury!  Love the page, in this magazine, on using resistance band routines for training connective tissue! 

Running Injury Free in 2015
Running Injury Free in 2015

Topical Ointments for Muscles and Tendons:

  • Willow Balm -Natures Topical Aspirin
    Features white willow bark and helichrysum as active ingredients
  • Power Flex Pain Relief Cream {muscle and joint pain, arthritis, tendonitis, sprains, strains and backache}

I love ordering the above items, off of AMAZON!

What are you currently reading related to running?  Do you use topical pain relief creams for muscle and tendon soreness?  Does the science behind running interest you ?

Organized Kitchen For Meal Planning and Weekly Recap

Wow!!  The first two weeks back to school and teaching 3rd grade flew by so quickly.  I barely had time to catch my breath!  These last two weeks back to school were a bit exhausting though, following the two week winter break.  I was reminded of how important it is to me, that I stay focused on healthy, whole foods and minimize my need to reach for processed junk! Healthy, whole foods give my more sustained energy for the long school days!

Saturday morning, I was up bright and early, to make my monthly trip to Annapolis for groceries from Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.  I live an hour and a half away from Annapolis and Washington, DC.  Once a month shopping keeps me on track and on budget.  I also enjoy the “me time” to wander around the markets and sample all the new and healthy food products!

Whole Foods Whole Living
Saturday at Whole Foods Market! I love all the healthy and unique food samples!

Weekly meal planning, sometimes requires a bit of maintenance.  So,  before I could really map out my week of meals, I cleaned and organized my fridge and freezer.

I love using labeled ziplock bags and glass jars with lids to store dried grains and cooked beans. I spent time on Saturday cooking and then dividing up chick peas and white beans into glass jars for the fridge and labeled ziplock bags for the freezer.  

Cleaning out and organizing helps me to see what I have in stock and make everything “easy to reach”! When whole, natural foods are within easy reach, your more likely to make good food choices! strong>

Fridge and Freezer Makeover
Organizing the fridge to maximize healthy choices!

I have an obsession with glass jars! I food prep and store ingredients in glass jars in my fridge for the week! Having an assortment of cooked beans, brown rice or quinoa and veggies makes it easy to toss together healthy meals! 

Glass Jars for my cooked brown rice, edamame, chick peas and cannellini beans
Glass Jars for my cooked brown rice, edamame, chick peas and cannellini beans

Weekly Meal Planning Link Up with Mommy Run Fast this week! Also, check out the wonderful blogs of Happy Fit Mamaand Jill Conyers!

  • Sunday- Chicken Enchilada Soup {Love This Easy Soup Starter Mix}
  • Monday-Ground Turkey Shepherd’s Pie with Smashed Cauliflower and Sauteed Mixed Baby Greens
  • Tuesday-Red Lentil and Black Bean Stew from Runner’s World Cook Book
  • Wednesday- Baked Potatoes with Broccoli
  • Thursday/Friday- Roast Beef Minestrone Soup {Another Easy Soup Starter Mix}

Last Week Workout Recap: Focusing on my goal of core fitness, strengthening my hips/glutes! 

Monday- Rest Day

Tuesday- Rest Day

Wednesday- Snow Day and Running {4.5 Miles}

Thursday- Hour long Core Fitness Session with Personal Trainer {Read About it HERE

Friday- Easy 3 mile Run

Saturday- Yoga and stretching, really focusing on improving my balance! The goal is improved foot stability and hip/glute strength leading to more efficient running!

What are you targeting in your fitness routine to become a stronger runner?  How do you organize and prep for weekly meal planning? 

Nutritious Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

Healthy, Delicious Blueberry Muffins
Healthy, Delicious Blueberry Muffins

Recently, a friend of mine, that I teach with at school, mentioned wanting a healthy breakfast muffin!  We are both teachers, so breakfast has to be fast, healthy and filling!  Busy schedules require a healthy breakfast to keep the body fueled and energized!

This recipe is full of goodness for nourishing the body and getting the day off to a great start! There are three types of gluten free flour in this recipe!

Oat Flour- {Gluten free Whole Grain Oats}

Coconut Flour- {High in fiber and low in easy-to-digest carbs} 

Almond Meal Flour-{A huge boost of protein}

My favorite brand of flour is Bob’s Red Mill. I use all organic ingredients and locally sourced eggs!

Recipe: Preheat Oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tin with large paper baking cups! 

Recipe Yeilds 12 muffins {These muffins are denser and don’t bake up fluffy like you would expect with traditional All-Purpose Flour}

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Oat Flour
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Flour
  • 1 cup of Almond Meal flour
  • 1 tsp of sea salt
  • 2 tsp of baking powder

Wet/Liquid Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/3 cups of Almond Milk { Prefer Califia Farms}
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Pure Vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil

1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries! 

Directions: Mix all dry ingredients together. Mix all wet ingredients together. Combine the two mixtures into one large bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.  Gently fold in blueberries to the batter! I use an electric hand mixer. Scoop mixture into muffin tin and bake for 30 minutes! 

Enjoy- Kara {MaineGirl2Runs}

Winter Running: My Favorite Layers and Gear

Last Wednesday, southern Maryland temperatures were hovering around 28 degrees. Schools were closed due to icy conditions and an inch or two of snow in the ground.

So, . . . what’s a teacher doing on a snow day? Running of course! I happily pulled on my new winter running gear! 4.5 beautiful miles and I was toasty warm!

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Winter Running is my favorite season! I love the cold temperatures and snowy backdrops! Wearing the right layers and material can make winter running really enjoyable!

Favorite Winter Running Gear
Favorite Winter Running Gear

Having the layers to keep me warm and comfortable keeps me Motivated to Run during the Cold Winter Months! 

  • Blue Under Armour Cold Gear Long Sleeve
  • Lucy Active Wear “Run Your Heart Out” Long Sleeve
  • Lucy Active WearWinter Warrior Tight
  • Balega Wool Crew Socks or Swift Wick Wool Crew Socks
  • {The SwiftWick Pursuit Two socks are compression and made with merino wool}
  • Lucy Active Wear Gloves
  • Under Armour Purple Beanie

I purchase moisture wicking layers that have a mix of material conducive to keeping in the warmth during cold winter runs.  A base layer with merino wool is ideal! Look for a mix of synthetic material, including polyester and Lycra. Cotton material will not wick away moisture and keep you warm.

**Stand By Winter Running Layers for When It’s Really Cold**

  • Lululemon long sleeve “Run For Gold” 
  • Brooks Purple Thermal Zip Up Hoodie
  • Lululemon Black Wide Hooded Jacket
Brooks Purple Thermal Hoodie and Lululemon Zip Up Jacket
Brooks Purple Thermal Hoodie and Lululemon Zip Up Jacket

How Do You Layer and Keep Warm During Winter Running Season? What keeps you motivated to run outside during cold winter months? 

My First Time Experience with a Personal Trainer

Okay! So for years, I’ve never considered myself a girl that goes to the gym. Every now and then, I’ll sign up for a Body Flow or Spin class, but I never go to the gym to do any type of circuit training. I never even knew which equipment to use and how to use it! I felt so cliche signing up for a gym membership in the first week of January. The lure of unlimited spin classes, body flow and pilates pulled me in to sign up!

So, the new gym membership gave me two free personal trainer sessions! I had no expectations, other then learning a few new workouts to add to my core and strength training routine. My biggest goal going into the 2015 running and racing season is to improve the strength and balance in my core. These steps will lead to more efficient running and strengthen my core to prevent injuries!

The personal trainer at my local gym was very easy and encouraging! She spent an hour going through seven workout routines with me! I worked up a sweat!

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Bosu Ball
Bosu Ball

The Hour Long Session Included- 3 Sets of 15-20 Reps of Each:

  • Squat to Overhead Press with 12LB Ball
  • Kettle Bell Swing with Squat
  • Pop Squats- Arms Straight Back as You Expolde Up
  • Bosu Ball Planks- Elbow to Hands
  • Red Band-Crossed Over, Two Steps to Each Side
  • Machine: Cable Squat with 17.5 pounds
  • Machine: Leg Press 30 Lbs

 

12 Lb ball and Kettle Bell
12 Lb ball and Kettle Bell

 

The hour long session was very beneficial.  I walked away with a solid set of “new-to-me” exercises to use as part of my core strengthening routine, at home or at the gym! The personal trainer also recommended Tabata workouts, which are 4 minutes-20 seconds hard with a 10 second break.  Along with Frog Jump Squats and the Pop Up Squats, Tabata workouts may improve sprinting during running. I’m excited to continue this workout routine 2x a week! 

Have you ever used a personal trainer? Did you learn anything new? Was it beneficial? 

 

Meal Planning and Healthy Choices: Throw Back Thursday

Wow!  A year ago this month and this is how I was meal planning!  Sharing this post  again, because this is exactly how I am still “Meal Planning” and Grocery Shopping, one year later!  The emphasis is on organization and healthy choices to create a healthy lifestyle.

Originally Posted On January 5th, 2014!

Almost eight years ago, I began to take a closer look at the contents of my kitchen.  I became more aware of packaging and labels on everything I was purchasing for my fridge and pantry.  Reading labels allowed me to really think about each ingredient and hidden junk that is in so much food.  I became more critically aware of lists of ingredients that went on for two paragraphs.  Reading labels also led me to researching and understanding the companies behind the labels and brands.  These realizations started me down the path that I’m still continuing today.  I shop carefully, once a month, at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.  I also piece in other items from my locally owned health food market.  

     Being able to grocery shop once a month requires a little planning, organization and time for prepping ingredients.  The work I put in once a month is worth it!  I’m a mother to one twelve year old daughter( my redhead), a runner, 3rd grade teacher, and wife.  Setting aside one weekend a month to shop saves me from shopping too often and relying on fast food.  I love having fresh, healthy and natural choices ready at a moment’s notice.

    It’s important to shop with well made reusable and insulated bags.  I drive an hour and a half to Annapolis to do most of my shopping.  The bags are packed with bagged ice or freezer packs from Whole Foods.  It’s much easier to shop for perishables in the winter months.  During the summer months I buy nothing frozen.  I carefully pack everything and put the A/C on high!!

Each month I restock my fridge with staples:

– lemons

– pink lady apples

– StonyField Farm or Organic Valley Whole Milk

– Califia Farms Almond milk

– Local eggs or Organic Valley Eggs

-blocks of organic cheddar

– Organic White Bread

– Bagels

Produce is key to healthy meals and snacks:

** I love the packaged produce from Trader Joe’s.  I buy natural and organic produce and when possible I buy locally.  The packaged produce is usually pre washed and chopped.  It does help with my busy “mom/wife duties” and teaching schedule.**

I also love Earthbound packaged produce.

Currently Stocked Fresh Produce: 

– baby spinach

-Kale ( Trader Joe’s Organic)

-Fennel bulbs

– Whole fresh carrots

-Fresh cut cremini mushrooms

– Fresh head of cauliflower

– tons of shallots

– large amounts of garlic bulbs

***On the counter -4 bunches of bananas***

– organic celery hearts

– seedless cucumbers

Frozen Produce: Multiple Packages

– Broccoli florets

– corn

-edamame

– sliced artichokes (Trader Joe’s)!!

-frozen fruit- blueberries ( picked over the summer in Maine), pineapple chunks, cherries

Also, in the freezer:

– Bell and Evans Organic Bonless Skinless Chicken Thighs (numerous packages)

– Boston Butt Pork Shoulder

– Nitrate and preservative free Bacon

– ground Turkey

-Bell and Evans Whole Chickens

Pantry Staples:

– Jars of Organic Tomato Basil and Puttanesca Sauce

– dried chick peas

-dried black beans

– various dried organic pasta

-Trader Joe’s albacore tuna in olive oil

– green and black pitted olives

– packages of almonds and peanuts

– jars of Trader Joe’s Artichoke pesto and Salsa

– Bottles of Cold Pressed Olive oil and Grape Seed oil

– Organic Brown rice

     This post highlights the items in my “well stocked” kitchen.  With these items on hand I’m always able to create healthy breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners.  

I spend time on Sundays preparing and packaging food for the week. I usually roast most of my fresh veggies with sea salt and olive oil on a baking sheet.  This allows me to have them ready for any dish! I buy my beans in bulk, then soak and cook them to place in containers or freezer bags.

 I am fortunate to have a Vitamix Pro 750.  I makes tons of homemade hummus, nut butters and blended juices/smoothies.

Important Tips:

– shop for all dry and non perishable items first

– Add in produce and refrigerated items

– finally, meat and frozen items

-Be sure to pack all “like” food together- it helps things to stay cold/frozen on the way home.

-Packing this way also makes it easier getting groceries inside the house and unpacked.

Last month I created a monthly menu.  It helped me to plan meals and it was great for letting my daughter and husband know “what’s for dinner?”!!

So. . . How does everyone else shop for groceries? Do you enjoy grocery shopping?  Any tips or advice to share?  What does meal planning and preparation look like at your house? This weekend I will share an update on what I am currently doing to make healthy choices!

Favorite Fitness Apps and Workouts

Busy schedules, location and general lack of resources sometimes have me searching for iPhone or android apps, as well as, online workouts.  I love to find quick, easy to follow workouts that I can do anywhere and anytime! Living so far from major metropolitan areas or well established towns really limits the level and choices of gyms and workout studios, including pilates and barre.

Southern Maryland
Southern Maryland: An Hour and Half away from Washington, DC and Annapolis, Maryland.

My favorite apps and workouts focus on core strengthing, balance and High Interval Intensity Workouts.  The following online workouts and apps require minimal equipment and I feel that these workouts are perfect for tight schedules and squeezing Fitness workouts in during travel too!

2 Pound Weights, Fitness Ball, Yoga Mat, and Thera Band
  2 Pound Weights, Fitness Ball, Yoga Mat, and Thera Band
My Quick 20 Minute Core Blitz
My Quick 20 Minute Core Blitz

Apps for Android or iPhone and Online Websites

    • Great 7 Minute Workout found here that Gives You 12 Exercises to be Performed in 7 Minutes (I love to do two or three cycles to give myself and 14 to 21 minute workout!  HIGH INTENSITY CIRCUIT TRAINING
    • A great workout for working my Abdominal Muscles and Improving Core Strength can be found here
    •  Great Pilates Fitness App found here
    • Weekly trips to a yoga studio are tough, but I really enjoy this Yoga App found here

So, these are a few of my current favorites! Do you have any online Fitness websites or Apps to share?  

My Teacher, the Runner

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Running and a Teachable Moment

A year ago, today, I wrote this post on my former blog hosted by Google.  Today I am reposting because it is exactly where I am today.  This post reflects how running has postively influenced my life as a teacher.

I always seem to find myself using running as a metaphor for motivating learners in my classroom. One student always seems to be comparing his/ her abilities to others in the classroom. Due to privacy issues I won’t divulge whether this student is a boy or girl.
Today, I found myself talking to this student about why I run. During class assignments this one student in particular is sometimes consumed with the pace of everyone else. My student becomes frustrated and then wants to give up on the assignment. Running is like learning; everyone works at their own pace. As I crouched down low beside the student’s desk, I whispered about “running your own race”.
 
I talked about how one has to focus on their own pace and goals. It’s not about where everyone else is at that moment, instead, it’s about you and your goals. I encourage my students to create goals for themselves, just as I recently created goals for myself. The only person you have to prove anything to is yourself. Only you have the ability to set your own pace in the classroom or on the road. While my student continued to struggle with not being done as fast as everyone else, I continued to talk. ” If I worried about everyone else being faster than me, then I’d never run.” I told my student that I focus on running and racing for myself. It’s about being comfortable with my pace and knowing that I can achieve my goals because they are mine to achieve. I told my student that it’s important to recognize your own strengths and talents. Running is about finding your strength and pushing your limits because they belong to you.
Set the pace for yourself and believe that you can accomplish anything. Don’t worry about the pace everyone else is running, just run for yourself. My student finished the assignment.
How does running affect other areas of your life?

Workout Recap, Back to School and Meal Planning

Two weeks off for winter break! These last two weeks at home were exactly what I needed to recharge and refocus for the second half of the school year!  Days and weeks were spent lounging around the house, traveling to visit family, and running.  I simply enjoyed having no routine and tons of unscheduled time to just live and breath in the moments.  I must admit, I quickly forgot the days on the calendar!

Now, I’m quickly being ushered back to reality on a gust of cold wind! Monday will be here in just a few short hours and it’s back to school!  Weekly meal planning on Sundays really helps the school week run smoothly.  A little prep and cooking on Sunday, allows for healthy, unprocessed, homecooked meals all week! My week days are busy with teaching, my eighth grade daughter’s afterschool commitments, and fitting in workouts!

I love linking up with these three amazing women who inspire a healthy lifestyle!  Check out the blogs of Happy Fit Mama, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers! They do Weekly Workout Recaps and Meal Planning every Sunday! It’s great to share delicious and healthy recipe ideas!

Weekly Meal Plan Outline!  

Breakfast

  • Breakfast is simple each morning: eggs, fruit, a cheese stick with crackers or granola with yogurt!

Lunch: My Fridge is Stocked with the following Each Week:

  • Precooked brown rice, gluten free couscous or quinoa
  • Seasonal vegetables-some raw or roasted
  • Two types of hummus, either homemade or store bought
  • Precooked lentils, chick peas or black beans { a variety of dried beans can be soaked, cooked and then frozen in small portions inside freezer quart size bags}
  • {These items allow me to toss together “quick lunch bowls”! }

Dinner:

Sunday: Roast Beef Minestrone

Monday: Leftover Roast Beef Minestrone

Tuesday: Chopped Brussel Sprouts and Shitake Mushrooms sauteed with garlic and shallots, then simmered with

Black Eyed Peasimage

Wednesday: Chicken Tacos

Thursday: Chick Pea Pesto Tomato Soup- Runner’s World Cookbook

Friday: Scrambled Eggs with Hashbrowns

Workouts and Running: A Good, Strong Week!

So now that I’m using this journalto track my workouts, I was pleasantly surprised to see that this past week was my strongest and most consistent week in a while! I’d been battling some achilles tendonitis since early November!  I am doing really well right now with running three times a week and incorporating weights, core and strength training!

Monday: Walked the mall- 3 miles

Tuesday: Rest, chiropractor and ultrasound therapy

Wednesday: Run- 3 miles

Thursday {Happy New Year}: Run-4 miles

Friday/Saturday: Rest! A little Ab workout

Sunday: RunTastic Abs Workout, TheraBand workout for glutes/hips and a Run {Ran 5 miles}

What Delicious Recipes are on Your Weekly Menu? Do you keep a journal? 

 

 

Exciting Plans For 2015:Another Chapter To Write

Happy New Year Everyone! Excited for new opportunities and goals to be accomplished!  A huge “Thank You” to the awesome blogger/runners, Eat Pray Run DC,  Mar On the Runand You Signed Up for Whatfor hosting this Friday Five Link Up!

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A New Year for New Goals and Opportunities!

Each year is like a new chapter.  I love looking at life from the perspective of new chances and opportunities to write about. A chance to reflect on the past, but also look ahead and forge new plans.  As I have said many times before, our lives are “open books”, just waiting for new chapters to be written.  Dust off those pens, pick up those planners, calendars and journals.  A new chapter is waiting to fill the pages of our most exciting plans and goals for the new year!

Five Big Goals for This New Chapter

  • Running goals for this year include: A course PR for the ZoomaRun Annapolis Half Marathon in May.  This course has some tough uphill climbs through historic Annapolis, Maryland. Dedicating more time to weight and strength training for injury prevention and overall improved fitness. Yoga classes for Hips and Core Balance will also be part of my weekly fitness routine.
  • Over the last two years, I’ve had the joy of watching my own daughter blossom in to a strong runner.  Lately, my Redhead has been logging more miles than me! My daughter and I have run several 5k races together and we enjoy running miles through our neighborhood together.  I want to continue running with my daughter because I feel it is a healthy way for us to stay connected and strengthen communication during her teen years.
  • Organize and coach my elementary Green Team for a late spring 5k.  The 5k will raise money for a local charity that aims to improve the environment.  I’m excited for this venture because it allows me to share my love of running with the students I teach and Give Back to the local community.  This opportunity is perfect timing in conjunction with my upcoming RRCA Coaching Certification class in April.

Two Professional Goals:

  • Writing is something I enjoy and I would love the opportunity to build a career in Freelance Writing.  This year I’m going to seek out more opportunities for writing to a larger audience.  I’ll be taking local or online classes in Freelance Writing to build my skills as a writer.
  • Natural and Organic nutrition has always been one of my greatest passions.  I value whole, unprocessed cooking and eating.  I’m currently in my 17th year of teaching elementary school, however, I’d like to pursue classes towards becoming a Nutrition Coach.

As this new chapter unfolds, I’ll be journaling and keeping track of life with this beautiful and inspiring journal!

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      It’s a new year! What will You write in your next chapter?  How do you keep track of your goals?