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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Did You Eat Your Vegetables Today?

I am a self proclaimed veggie hater, always have been.  Imagine me now in my nutrition class, the research staring back at me saying how important those pesky vegetables really are.  So important, that my plate right now should hold about 75% vegetables and 25% lean protein.  That’s a tall order for me.  My breakfast plate should also be about 50% vegetables and my lunch plate 75%.  I can almost see my mother laughing at me and saying, “Really, did you think I made this stuff up?”2bm_sgg_dinner-plate-1.png

When I was a young girl, I blatantly refused to eat any vegetable other than corn, which isn’t even a vegetable.  Thankfully, I had a dog named Pierre who loved vegetables and would eat them fast when my mother turned her back.  When I was a teenager, my mother gave up fighting with me about eating vegetables.  It was I’ll admit, quite the fight and one I was not planning to lose.  When I moved out and was fully in charge of my eating, vegetables were never on my shopping list.  I was very thin and lived happily on my diet of Entemann’s cake, deli sandwiches and lunch from the Morgan Stanley cafeteria.   As a young mother, I made valiant attempts to get my children to eat vegetables.  My children all ate home cooked baby food.  I lovingly purchased fresh vegetables and fruits to cook and puree for each of them.  When they were young toddlers and began to fight with me about eating certain foods, I realized how hard it likely was for my mother.

1164DDC0-6A38-4C00-A445-528DB7208085
The dogs of 72nd St. Rusty, Rumple & Pierre

The past few months as I moved back into running training again, I’ve cleaned up my eating substantially.  I signed up for nutrition classes to learn how to better fuel my body and offset any genetic flaws.  What I did not do though is increase my vegetable intake to the level of 75% of my plate!  Clearly, I still have some work to do here!

Three years ago, when my mother was placed full time in a care center, I vowed to not go down the same path.  I knew first hand what this disease had done to my family and did not want my children to face a similar fate as my husband and I age.  Alzheimer’s robs you of your precious memories and the ability to care for yourself.  It is quite painful to watch helplessly as your loved one fades away.  I did not want this burden for my three children and hoped to find a way to prevent, or delay it.

I’ve spent three years reading any research I can get my hands on and changing my lifestyle.  It has not been an easy journey, as it is hard work.  My why has kept me pushing forward, even on days where motivation is low.  I’ve had my setbacks along the way with injuries, but the push forward has continued.  This winter, I decided to stop spending so much money on nutritionists and put that money to use in educating myself.  I’m in the middle of my second nutrition course and hope to attend IIN Nutrition in the fall.  I am more convinced than ever, that the answer to my quest to prevent Alzheimer’s does indeed rely heavily on the foods I am eating.  I know that my best hope to ensure brain health is to change the way we eat and continue to move my body.  It’s an exciting journey and one that I truly hope I will get to share with my grandchildren and great grandchildren someday.

Today, my husband brought home a beautiful piece of ham for Sunday dinner.  He shops early in the morning on the way home from the gym and was quite excited about his purchase.  I had a 5K race this morning at 10:00 AM, so was less than excited about his purchase.  When in the world did he think we’d be cooking and preparing this ham?  He had this all planned out and brought in the Crockpot from the garage.  He said that he heard we could set it up in the Crockpot and it would be ready later in the day. Since my options were limited, I went along with his plan.  I literally washed the ham and placed it in the pot with some water.  That’s it!  I set it to 8 hours on low and got ready to leave for the race.

When we returned from the race the house smelled heavenly.  I forgot how nice it was to come home to a meal in the Crockpot.  I was able to shower, relax and unwind from my morning without worrying about preparing dinner.  When we were ready, I took the meat out of the pot and sliced it up to eat.  It was soft, juicy and delicious.  I plated it with some shredded cabbage mixed with kale and baby spinach.  I prefer my vegetables raw, so a side salad of this was just perfect for me.  If you have a Crockpot collecting dust in your garage, I recommend you pull it out, wash it up and get it going again.  It was wonderful not to have to turn on the oven today.

I’d love to hear what your favorite Crockpot recipes are.  Please leave me a message below.

The book I just finished in my course was –

 

It was very helpful to read about how certain foods that I thought were healthy are not in fact healthy for me.  Interesting read, especially if like me, you have inflammation. If you read it, please leave me a comment.

 

Resolutions are not Realistic

We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.  Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives…not looking for flaws, but for potential. – Ellen Goodman

Every January, I hear people talking about their resolutions for living a healthy lifestyle in the new year.  They will exercise more, eat better, stop drinking and the list goes on and on.  But, resolutions are not always realistic.  They are a promise you make to do things differently, but most times they are never fully carried out.

Every January, gyms are overcrowded with people who have made these resolutions.  They vow to come every day and start off strong, but inevitably they can’t maintain this pace because it’s not realistic.  You can’t go from not working out to working out every single day without some soreness, or loss of motivation.  I don’t set resolutions, I make plans.  They often say goals (insert resolutions) are dreams without plans.  I can’t agree more.  So, this year, instead of making a resolution to do a list of things, spend time planning for your success.  Buy a calendar and plan your weeks for healthier living – when will you workout, what will you eat.  This simple change could put you on the road to success.  Now that I’m close to being cleared to return to full activity, that is exactly my plan for this weekend.

Happy Holidays and New Year to all my readers.  I’d love to hear what your plans are for 2018.  Leave me a message below.

Click this link  –  New Year, New You!  to enjoy my New Year’s column to help you get started on your plans for 2018!

 

 

Celebrate You

Christmas is next weekend and for many it can be a time of great emotional pain.  There are empty chairs at tables around the table and loved ones left to deal with this loss.  One way I deal with it is to always keep my loved ones near.  I have something of these loved ones included on my tables when I set them.  It may be a simple thing like the salt shakers, or the china we eat on, or my memories of them sitting and laughing at my table.  It can be a very trying time, but we must celebrate life and continue our journey as that is what they would want for us.

When I think back on Christmas past, I often take out old photographs and am always surprised by how absent I am in large chunks of time.  I remember avoiding the camera at all costs but I never thought about the future and how I’d be noticeably missing from our past.  What will my children and grandchildren have to remember me by?  I wrote about this in a previous column and I think it’s worthy of a reread.  The unintended consequence of my action is that I removed myself from my children’s past memories.  Don’t let this happen to you.  Get in those photographs this year regardless of how you think you look.  I guarantee when you look back on them they will bring you joy and you truly won’t even notice!

Take a moment to read this column and leave me a note below.  Enjoy the holiday week with your loved ones and be sure to capture each moment.

Unintended Consequences

Highlight Reels

When you are recovering, or rebuilding your strength following an injury social media can be tough to view.  Each day my feed is full of photographs from my running friends who are sharing their successes. Most weekdays I wake to photographs of beautiful scenery from their runs.  Weekends are full of race medals, smiling faces and finish line celebrations.  Sure, I am happy for all my running friends who are continuing their journey.  Sure, I celebrate all their accomplishments, support and congratulate them – and I mean it.  But, that doesn’t mean it’s not hard for me and that I don’t feel like time is passing me by.  I miss my runs, I miss my races and I miss my running friends.

Recently, I went on Twitter and noticed a photo of a group having a meet up run.  I must admit I felt left out to not have even known about it.  It’s not that they didn’t tell me they were meeting, it’s that I wasn’t able to be there to run.  This run happens every year, I just wasn’t watching the run group calendar of events as I am currently on break.  I had that FOMO moment and really started feeling sorry for myself.   I got that nagging, whiny feeling of – “Why me?”  “Why is everyone else able to run without any injury and I get injured when I think about running.”   Then I reminded myself, that these photographs come from the “highlight reel” of their lives.  Every runner struggles with injury, aches and pain because running is hard work.  For every smiling photograph on social media, there are many other not so pretty moments on the journey.

This time of year can be especially hard on many people and social media can heighten these feelings.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, it may be a good time to take a break from it.  Get involved in something else to occupy the time you normally spend on social media.  I have been walking instead and to stay motivated I joined a Fitbit Challenge called the Workweek Hustle.  My work friend has been pushing me to walk more each day by upping her steps in this friendly competition.  The walking has helped me to clear my mind and spend less time on the computer.  That’s a win win for me on this recovery journey.  I hope you consider doing the same.

Last year around this time I wrote a blog about similar feelings that you may find interesting.

Me, Myself and I

Knowing you are not alone in the struggle can often lift you up.  Drop me a line and let me know how you’re doing.  Your notes of encouragement lift me up and often put a smile on my face.  Thanks to all who take time to comment each week, I greatly appreciate your thoughts.

There’s Always Tomorrow

There’s always tomorrow
For dreams to come true
Believe in your dreams, come what may.
There’s always tomorrow
With so much to do
And so little time in a day.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year….for gaining weight.  I’m not kidding, there are so many temptations all around me since Thanksgiving.  Everywhere I look there’s a holiday cocktail or snack and it’s oh so hard to not get caught up in it all.  Add in to this mix my inability to run, or do most workouts and I’m on sure fire path toward watching the scale creep up again.  It happens so very rapidly too, just a few weeks and I can find myself 10+ pounds heavier and my pants are already feeling tight!

Last Sunday, I began light walking and planned to walk a little each day this week.  While I got 6-7K steps at work each day, I never actually went for a walk.  Each morning, I’d tell myself that I would walk at lunch – never happened; or go down and do light yoga before work – never happened; or worse yet..I’ll just do it tomorrow which also never happened.  I am on that cycle of “tomorrow”, but unfortunately tomorrow never happens.

In a world that preaches – “There’s always tomorrow” when we fail to do what we set out to do, I’ve tried to live with a different philosophy.  Pablo Picasso once said, “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”   I realize that’s a bit strong for the diet context, but it’s the best way to live life overall.  Why put off until tomorrow what one can do today?  Also, very good advice.  We are never guaranteed tomorrow, so living life with the idea that we should do all we can today in this moment can serve us well when trying to meet our health goals.

Here’s a few things that have helped me in the past to get back on track, as sadly this isn’t my first time struggling.  I hope you find one that helps you and I hope writing them down gives me a push out of my comfortable bed this morning.

1. Treat workouts like appointments – You would never stay in bed if you had a work meeting, so treat your workouts like that.  I work out in the morning, or it just doesn’t happen.  I know this and yet I tell myself I’ll walk at lunch.  That is just not going to happen, my job doesn’t allow it.  I need to schedule my workouts on a calendar with a set time and stick to it.  I’ve been a bit too lax since the injury, enjoying the extra time in bed to sip coffee and relax.  My body needed that break, but it’s time to get back on a schedule.  Doing less has also made me lazier.   Today, I will pull out my calendar and plan my workout week.

2. Set an alarm or reminder – It’s super easy to fall down that black hole in the morning.  You know the one I mean.  You are sipping coffee and open the computer to check email quickly.  Next thing you know it’s an hour later and you’ve missed your workout.  I’m going to set a reminder on my phone to buzz when it’s time for my scheduled workout meeting in the basement.  This will break my trance created by all the Facebook and Twitter feeds that pull me in and don’t let go.

3. Create routine – In keeping with my scheduling of workouts, I need routine.  My childhood revolved around strict routines, my parents may have been a bit excessive about it, so I tend to crave them.  The calendar will help, but putting specific routines on set days truly keeps me going.  It gives me something to look forward to and helps when I don’t love a workout to know it’s only one of the days in my week.

4. Keep it light – When motivation wanes it’s often a sign that you need to lighten things up a bit.  I know I need to recapture some of the fun of working out.  This is actually a perfect time to do this, as I’m not training for anything specific right now.  My short term goal is to get moving and have some fun.  I’m planning to look for some new trails to walk on, or try some new workout routines on Beach Body On Demand that I’ve not tried yet.

5. Stay in the present moment – I have to live more like my dog Sonny – in the present moment.  It’s so easy for me to become overwhelmed by one bad choice (alright, seriously there’s been more than one).  I just have to keep going and move on because when I beat myself up for one mistake, it just gives me excuses for the next one.

6. Get connected – Keeping my mental state in a healthy zone is critical for my success.  I am an emotional eater and it’s super easy at this time of year to go down that rabbit hole.  I miss my family being as it once was during the holidays.  I miss my mom and dad being with me at my tables.  Every song or scent evokes memories and they can become overwhelming.  I’ve got to keep pushing myself to go out and get connected with others.  Walking alone is great, but it’s so much more fun to walk with a friend, or my husband.  I can’t run with my running group right now, but there are other injured runners who would likely meet me to walk.  Find someone to connect with during this holiday season and see if it helps you get back in a healthier mindset.

That’s the plan for the week.  I’m going to do my Sunday cooking today so I have healthier food for the week.  I also plan to get some food for my work refrigerator and I bought a small Nutribullet machine for my office.  I’m hoping if I’m craving something sweet a nice shake might provide some satisfaction instead of the chocolate or cookies.  If not, at least I know I’m getting some extra vegetables and fruit into my diet.

How are you doing this holiday season with your eating and workout plans?  If you find yourself struggling, try one of these ideas and drop me a line to let me know if it helped.  You are not alone on this journey!  There are many of us walking this walk and together we will get it done.

Great read to help change your mindset:

 The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book)

Inside the pages of this book are four life lessons that we all can draw upon in our daily lives.  Now especially, with our world in constant turmoil, with tensions running so high, I find myself relying on it heavily.  The four agreements are –

  1. Speak with Integrity – Your word is everything!  Say only what you mean and avoid negative self talk and gossip.  Use your words to speak the truth and of love.
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally -Remember always that nothing others say or do is because of you, it is really a projection of their own reality.  Be immune to the opinions and actions of others and you will avoid much suffering.
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions – Do your research before you make an assumption about someone or something.  When in doubt save your energy and don’t worry about it.  Ask and be direct rather than fretting and worrying about things. Be sure.
  4. Always Do Your Best – Under any and all circumstances do your best each and every day.  Yes, your best will vary depending on the situation, but do the best you can at all times and you will never be full of self regret.

I use them in my daily life and often at work.  They really are about making a mindset shift and approaching life from a position of self love and positivity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to Know a Truth…

We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.  Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives…not looking for flaws, but for potential. Ellen Goodman

Here’s my truth:   My long time mindset of harder is better has served to make me feel discouraged more times than it’s made me feel good about myself and the work I do.  Now in this long recovery cycle, I realize it may be totally off base.

Funny thing is that my nutritionist recently told me, “You know you can get healthy just from walking every day.  You don’t have to work so hard at this.”   My foot doctor told me, “You know you don’t have to run six days a week to get healthy.  You can benefit from cross training and/or taking long walks.”  My running club told me, “You can use walking to strengthen and improve your running.”  My heart rate coach told me time spent building my endurance would have huge payoffs in the long run.  But, the short run might involve a lot of walking.”  My husband told me, “You don’t have to prove anything to anyone.”  But my ego told me, “You can push through this.  You don’t have to go back to being a beginner and walking.  You can run through these bumps in the road.

Wanna know a truth… I’ve come to finally realize that – Just because I take breaks to walk doesn’t mean I’m not a runner.

Jeff Galloway says, “Never underestimate the power of a good walk—and not just as a mid-run break. Going for a “pure” walk, (no running at all) allows your body to make small adaptations that strengthen your feet, knees and hips. Long, brisk walks can help boost your endurance. And walking as a means of cross-training gives your joints and running muscles a well-deserved break, which can help reduce or eliminate the aches and pains caused by running.”  Jeff is an Olympic runner who has taught many people how to successfully learn to run.  His running clubs are found all over the world and I had the pleasure of working with one in New York City this year.  Bill, a marathoner, ran with my group one weekend in Central Park.  He was running with me and talking about how he had burned out as a runner.  He talked about how hard he was training and how it took a toll on his body.  He told me that, “You can never run too slow when training, but you definitely can run too fast.”  He recommended that I run as slow as possible on my training runs and it would benefit me greatly over time.  He explained that during his first marathon he overtrained and had nothing left at the end.  The next year, running with the Galloway club to train, he finished strong and passed many runners on the course who had flown by him in the earlier stages of the race.

This time I think I actually understand what many have been trying to tell me.  My improvement may actually depend on slowing it down.  Galloway believes that walking can help strengthen your muscles and increase your endurance.  Further, he believes that it re-conditions soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, connective tissue), preparing them for the more rigorous demands of running.  This sounds like just what the doctor ordered and what I need to start again.   Friday, I decided it was time to start walking a little to get moving again.  I’ve had three (3) weeks of total rest and am now ready to walk lightly to get back out there.  I walked two miles on Friday and Saturday and it felt great to be outside in the crisp fall air.  I took my dog with me to ensure that I kept it at a walk, as he’s definitely not a running dog.  I will continue to take shorter walks and hope to increase my endurance and mental mindset for running.

This week, I got a Facebook message from a childhood friend.  She decided to start the Couch to 5K plan with the long term plan of joining us on some runs this year.  Her joy and excitement in the discovery of running made me realize what I was truly missing.  There is joy to be found in running not just work.  It is not just about increasing pace, or distance.  It’s about reclaiming health and feeling great about what you’ve accomplished.  Wanna know a truth…I haven’t felt that in a very long time!  Running is not my job, it’s my joy and I’m setting off to find that again.  Thanks Deb for reminding me what it’s truly about.  Can’t wait to run with you and Helen soon, even if we end up running to the nearest Irish pub and staying for hours.

What’s your current truth?  Leave me a message below and let’s get started on moving forward together.

Worth checking out:


Opening quote taken from my running friend Tony Garcia’s book – Wanna Know a Truth:A Simple Man’s Search for the Truths in His Life.  I’ve enjoyed Tony’s journey and writing.  His book is definitely worth checking out.

Functional Movement Specialist – Ever wonder why you keep getting injured? Tired of hearing, “Maybe your body is just not meant to run.” Contact Jessica Leggio for a consultation and get on track to running pain free. Mention my name – Laura Hess Kump, or this blog Reclaiming My Health for a free consultation –  Run Pain Free

Galloway Training – Official website can be found at – Jeff Galloway

Lists of Galloway groups in different states can be found on the main website.  Here is the link to the New York City chapter, a very active and supportive group – New York City Galloway Group  This page has dates for the training cycle we just completed, but information on joining for the next cycle can be found here.  We begin again in May, however members meet unofficially throughout the winter months.