Change is Good for the Soul

I’ve been running since I was a young girl, that’s all I really did.  I did track team for some time in junior high school, but didn’t wish to continue in high school.  I was never a fast runner, slow and steady was always more my speed.  I liked the longer distances, where I could just settle in and enjoy the solitude out on the road.  I was devastated and completely stressed, when I thought I’d never be able to run again.  I definitely went through a very hard time emotionally and soothed myself with way too much food and wine.

Crawling out from the mess I made has been particularly hard this time.  I’m not getting any younger and the older I get, the harder it is to rectify months of poor eating choices.  Gone are the days where I could just burn it all off in a month.  It seems these days, no matter how hard I work or clean I eat, the pounds stay put.  But, if nothing else, I am a very determined woman.  I will get myself back to a comfortable running weight no matter how long it takes.

Long time readers, know that I am not a huge fan of change when it comes to exercise and nutrition.  I like things to stay the way they are and love to get into a routine.  My military/police dad really did drill routine and structure into my brothers and I, especially around our meals.  To change my workout routine and my nutrition at the same time is a huge undertaking for me, but at this point what have I got to lose – except a few inches and pounds.

Instead of running and risking yet another injury, I decided to give Crossfit a try.  I started going at the end of June and have been going at least 4 times a week.  This month, I’ve tried to up it to 5 times and if I can’t make it to the gym, I do the WOD at home.  Remember, we have a full gym set up in our basement, so with my husband spotting me I can do the work – no excuses.  It’s hard, but oh so motivating to do these workouts each day.  They are always different and you never know what you will get, other than drenched in sweat and spent.  They really break up the monotony of doing the same workout over and over again – think running.  The most interesting thing that happened is the more I go, the less I miss those grueling long runs.  I’m truly not at a long run weight right now anyway, so I’ve just been sticking to 3 and 4 mile runs when I can fit them in.

As for my nutrition, I just couldn’t get that darn scale to move no matter what I did.  I know from reading The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain that there are many foods that are thought to be healthy, that may not be healthy for my body.  These past two weeks, I’ve really dialed it in and cleaned up what I was eating and guess what that scale budged.  More importantly, I feel better and actually stopped craving that glass of wine at night.  Foods that I never really wanted to eat are becoming more appealing to me.  Yes, I have been doing a lot of cooking, but I’ve kept the recipes simpler.  Best of all, I think I will be able to maintain these types of meals when I return to my full work schedule.

Today, it is pouring rain outside.  After I came home from the gym, I decided to make three meals to have some pickings for the week.  I roasted some sweet potatoes with onions and garlic to be used as a nice base for poached eggs during the week.  902861B7-BA30-466B-A048-78AAF8033856.jpegI also have the crock pot going (which I haven’t used in forever) to cook some nice boneless chicken thighs with homemade BBQ sauce.  Finally, I’m roasting a tray of vegetables.  These vegetables include butternut squash, sweet potatoes and spinach with cauliflower cream sauce (dairy free).   It smells incredible in my house right now and I’m looking forward to dinner later.

Sometimes, change is good for the soul.  Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I feel rejuvenated and ready to keep pushing through this rough patch.  Each day I feel that much stronger mentally and physically.   If you are stuck in a rut, like I was, try something new.  You don’t have to try it all at once like I did, but believe me you will find that spark again.  Here is the recipe for the roasted vegetables I made today in case you want to give them a try.6A2B45FF-DE48-41AA-8CDD-F42CDB15E843.jpeg

Squash Gratin

Ingredients

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 6 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of nutmeg

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 head of caulifower, cut into florets
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. To make the cream sauce, place a couple inches of water in a large pot. Once the water is boiling, place steamer insert and then cauliflower florets into the pot and cover. Steam for 12-14 minutes, until completely tender.
  3. Drain and return cauliflower to the pot. Add the almond milk, stock, nutmeg, salt, and pepper to the pot.
  4. Use an immersion blender or food processor to combine the ingredients until smooth. Set aside.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a separate pot of water to a boil. Add the butternut squash and cook for 4 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  6. Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 4-5 minutes until soft .
  7. Stir in the spinach to wilt. Season with salt and pepper.

To Assemble:

  1. To assemble, grease a large baking dish with coconut oil spray.
  2. Spoon a thin layer of the cream sauce over the bottom of the pan.
  3. Arrange a layer of half of the butternut squash.
  4. Top with half of the spinach mixture, and then all of the sliced sweet potato.
  5. Drizzle with the cream sauce.
  6. Add the remaining half of the spinach, followed by the rest of the butternut squash.
  7. Drizzle the rest of the cream sauce over the top.
  8. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  9. Bake for 50-60 minutes until browned. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

*Recipe courtesy of PaleoGrubs.com

Check out The Plant Paradox to rethink some of what you thought you knew about healthy eating.  I find it very interesting and does make sense with the struggles I’ve gone through.

The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain

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Mindset Moves

Long term readers of my blog know that I’ve worked hard to have a positive mindset about myself and my abilities to reclaim my health.  I’ve read and learned a lot and really strive to live mindfully, despite serious injuries and setbacks along the way.  I’ve rebuilt my base more than I care to think about, yet here I am rebuilding it once again.  It’s just the cycle of my life, which flows in ebbs and tides and I’ve learned to ride the waves.

Along this journey, I’ve shared many of my mindset struggles – negative self talk, wallowing in pity following injury, why me mentality, and the list goes on and on.  It’s once again time to pull myself up by my bootstraps and get focused on what I am trying to accomplish.  It has been a life goal to complete the NYC Marathon and I am once again working towards this goal.  I am way behind where I was this time last year in my training, but my mindset is in a good space.  I am most definitely NOT pushing myself to do more than my body is ready for and will NOT suffer another injury doing so.  I will admit to thinking about how I should be running longer by now, but won’t allow myself to go there.  I know that my body is NOT ready for the work and if I push beyond my ability right now I will get injured again.  I also know that my goal is to finish the marathon, no matter how long it takes!

I’ve dialed in my nutrition and really taken the time to learn about the role nutrition plays in reclaiming my health.  I’ve taken an online course to learn about different types of eating (tracking macros, KETO, plant based) to see which best meets my body’s current needs and my goals.   I highly recommend going through this online course at least one time to experiment and track your body’s responses.  I learned a lot about myself in the process and not only related to diet.  Here is the link to this community for anyone interested in learning more – One 3 One  Now that I’ve cycled through this course twice, I am moving on to my next steps.  I signed up for a cooking course to learn how to cook more plant based dishes.  As you know, I love to cook but have been a self proclaimed vegetable hater for far too long.  I hope to learn more  about cooking plant based meals to expand my menu planning.  Here is the link to this online platform – Rouxbe Online Platform   You will find many options there for cooking courses that may appeal more to you.  I signed up for the Rouxbe Membership which will allow me to work through these courses at my own pace.

Working at my own pace is where I’d like to end today.  As an educator, I know that children come to us at all different stages of development.  I know that there are modifications available to meet the needs of each of them.  I also know that sometimes people have implicit bias that shape how they plan and react to certain individuals.  Sometimes, as educators, we offer modifications before we allow students to try the unmodified task.  Sometimes we predetermine and decide that the student needs the modification.  What that does, in my humble opinion, is send the message that we don’t believe in their ability to complete the task as is.  What that does is take away the opportunity for the student to engage in the given task with feedback and modification AS NEEDED along the way.  Truly, it’s the same thing when we engage in exercise.  As a middle aged woman, I know that I am not seen as someone who can do most athletic challenges and I likely can’t at this point in time.  But, there is nothing more disheartening than someone else predetermining that you can’t, before you even try.  I’d like to publicly thank my CrossFit Freshkills coaches, for believing in me and not making me ever feel like I can’t.  Today I’d like to thank Coach Libby Elias, a fellow educator, for her belief that I could indeed complete the four rounds required without a modification.  Her belief was inspirational as I worked through the tough workout.  So, in the spirit of mindset moves, I’d like to ask that we all adopt the mindset of “maybe they can” and not rush to provide a modification before allowing them to try.  Perhaps our students, including middle aged women like me, might just surprise you.  What we say and do matter so much and can have lasting implications on other people’s mindsets, so let’s try to be more mindful of that.

Here’s the link to a few posts I’ve written on this topic:

Mindset Matters

There’s Always Tomorrow

Want to Know a Truth…

On the Road Again

Always happy to connect with readers, so feel free to drop me a line in the comments below.

 

Try Something New

If you want a different result, try something new.  What have you got to lose?  These are the thoughts that were swimming around in my head as I began this marathon training cycle yet again.  This is my third attempt at making it to the starting line of the NYC Marathon.  Last year, I made it all the way up to two weeks before the race when I fell at work and broke 3 toes.  It didn’t really matter though, as I also was diagnosed with a second femoral stress fracture ending my hopes of running.  The toes were literally the final straw that made me defer my race to November 2018.ef56444d-d07e-4014-b44b-08dabcb5fdfc.png

As I begin training again, I am cautiously optimistic that this time will be the time I make it to the starting line.  I have learned from my mistakes and am trying to get my training plan right.  I’m working hard to improve my functional strength through more cross training.  I’ve returned to yoga class and can already feel a difference in my legs when I run.

My first order of business must be to get this extra weight I’m carrying off.  I have been taking nutritional courses and learning about how to best fuel my body for running.  I learned so much about the foods that support and don’t support my goals.  As I experimented with different types of eating, I opened myself up to trying new foods that I usually avoid and have come to find I actually enjoy them.  I decided to apply this open mindedness to my exercise selection as well.  Rather than doing the same things over and over again, I decided to try different types of exercise and see what works best for my body and life.  It’s interesting to see how my tastes in exercise have started to shift as well. Running has always been my first choice of exercise since I was young.  I’ve significantly modified my running this spring and have been using intervals to build my stamina back up slowly.  I truly feel the time goes by faster when I run intervals and it is a great workout.  When I finish a long interval run, I’m not totally exhausted and still have energy to go about my day.  I’m super excited to feel like I WILL complete this marathon using this strategy.

Since I cut down on the amount of time I spend running, I knew I needed to cross train with intentionality.  I began looking around for something that would both strengthen and build my stamina.  I kept thinking about trying Crossfit but had some serious fear of walking in issues.  Friends of mine go to a local Crossfit and kept encouraging me to try a class.  They’d send me selfies in the morning from the class and finally I decided to take the plunge.50A50725-0939-43AC-88CC-19D1B25CE577.jpeg

I’m not going to lie and say it’s an easy workout, because it most definitely is not.  But, I am going to say that I believe it may help me finish this marathon.  The class is well organized and all moves can be done on some level. There are modifications available to make this practice available to all fitness levels.  I feel these workouts could help me develop the strength, stamina and mental toughness I will need to run 26.2 miles.  I leave this class dripping with sweat, yet invigorated and looking forward to the next.  I’m going to continue to go to the classes three times a week and cut my running down to twice a week for now.  Seriously, what have I got to lose except perhaps an injury and some pounds.

When you find yourself in a rut and can’t seem to snap out of it, try something new.  Step outside your comfort zone and you may be surprised by how it rekindles your workout motivation.  I felt better this week than I have in a long while.  I think it’s the combination of trying new things and being around people.  I am looking forward to this week’s workouts and will continue my climb back from the long winter of broken bones.

What have you done this week to step outside your comfort zone?  How has it helped rekindle your motivation?  Be sure to leave your comments below.  I look forward to reading them.