Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

“Celebrating Sue Wilsey – NutriFit’s January 2016 Client of the Month!”

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Sue Wilsey knew that it was time to make the move to get healthier. Lots riding on her “feeling” better in her skin, and of course, improving her overall health; her daughter’s upcoming wedding, plus a “milestone” birthday for Sue, herself.

Read on to be inspired by Sue’s commitment to getting back to fit, and how we at NutriFit are privileged to play a role!

SUE Client of the Month

  1. What is your favorite exercise and why?

So happy that Emily put those pink boxing gloves on me. Great way to sweat and blow off some steam.


  1. What is your least favorite exercise and why?

I have a nagging knee issue that hinders my success at balancing exercises. I’m not going to give up on those however.


  1. What fitness achievement are you most proud of?

Beginning this journey. For the first time in my almost 60 years on this planet, I actually look forward to my workouts and miss them on my days off.


  1. What goals or challenges do you have set for yourself now?

To add at least one day of doing strength exercises at home, now that I’m getting the hang of them. I also want to add a day or two of yoga and more walking!


  1. What do you like most about NutriFit Personal Training?

Cathy and Emily really care and it motivates me and makes me accountable.


  1. Do you have any advice for prospective NutriFit Personal Training clients?

Don’t waste any more money on joining gyms you never go to or buying DVDs you never watch. I’m approaching this as a very valuable fitness education, one that will remain a part of my life forever. What is a better investment than in a healthier you?






“3 Reasons to Elevate Your Health”

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015








I’ve recently fallen in love with the word “elevate”.

Definition: “To lift up, to increase the level of, to make higher”.

It’s not that I just learned the word so it holds new-word novelty making me want to say it over and over and over; that word would be onomatopoeia, which I learned at a recent Toastmaster’s meeting and truly can’t stop saying.

It’s simply that I’ve realized how perfectly “elevate” fits with the work that I do – and it has me a little giddy.

I help people elevate their health.

Which isn’t as easy as it may sound. You see, people must be READY to want their health actually elevated. And that’s not always the case.

Some people need to be convinced that it’s a good idea to take care of themselves.

Those aren’t the clients I work with.

I’m known for saying, “I don’t want to convince you to look after your health – but I do want to help you once you’ve decided that you value your health AND that your health (and you) is worth valuing”.

That’s where the magic happens. When people come to the realization that their health IS PRECIOUS and they’re ready to do whatever it takes get and stay healthy – look. out.

So if you’re on the fence – not really sure if taking better care of yourself is worth it or not – here are 3 strongly compelling reasons why you may just want to say yes.

  1. You’ll stay out of health debt. We all know we must stay out of debt in order to stay financially fit. You know, money in the bank, zero balance on the credit cards, contribute to the retirement fund, spend less than we earn. All sound advice. And easily applicable to health. When you sock away health riches, you simply have a bigger reserve to draw from when (and believe me, we ALL have a when) you need it, thus keeping yourself out of health debt. Your energy, vitality, stamina, strength, reserve, and your ability to recover and withstand medical treatments all hinge on how nutritionally and physically healthy you are.
  • Tweak your diet to be sure you’re fueling versus filling.
  • Exercise weekly for at least the recommended 150 minutes.
  1. You’ll stop bouncing in and out of exercise and weight loss programs. When you do something drastic, such as an extreme (or even not-so-extreme) diet and fitness program, you will not be able to maintain that level of deprivation and restriction long-term. So you stop and then you start. Again. Over and over and over. If you’re not following a nutrition and fitness program that SUPPORTS vs. RULES your lifestyle, you’ll continue to yo-yo. And that means you won’t make progress, and you won’t keep yourself out of health debt.
  • Focus on what you can shave or swap from your current diet versus focusing on what you need to completely eliminate or avoid.
  • Find an exercise that you LOVE (yes, walking counts) and do THAT. Not a runner? Don’t run. Hate swimming? Don’t swim. Seriously.
  1. Your body will respond in kind. You know how when you forget to water your summer flower pots they seem to wilt before your eyes? The vibrancy of the petals is dulled, the leaves begin to crinkle, the stems lose their perk. What happens when you finally give them a big, healthy drink of water? They perk back up right before your eyes, gifting you with the joy of color, vibrancy and vitality. Same thing happens with your body. Give it what it needs on a regular basis and you will be rewarded with vibrancy and vitality – which makes you want to keep giving yourself what you actually need, which helps you stop bouncing in and out of extreme exercise and weight loss programs, which in turn feeds your health bank account and prevents health debt. See? Magic.
  • Remember to eat every 3-4 hours.
  • Move your body in physical activity every, single day.

“Keeping Your Fitness Edge As You Age”

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

At my personal training studio, we cater to the 40+ age group crowd. Yep, that’s our demographic and WE LOVE THEM!

If you’ve hit this milestone yourself, you may have noticed that the benefits you want from a workout have shifted pretty dramatically from simply losing weight and getting toned (not that it’s all THAT simple!) to any or all of the following:

  •  You want to FEEL better.
  •  You want to IMPROVE your balance.
  • You want RELIEF from low back pain, knee pain, shoulder pain.
  • You had a HEALTH SCARE and want to do all you can to position yourself to be physically and mentally STRONG, for whatever lies ahead.

These are all great motivators to get moving, yet now that you’re in that demographic group that we love, perhaps you’re wondering why it’s a little bit more difficult to actually do that.

A recent article on “Why Athletic Performance Declines As You Age” does a great job highlighting age-related changes and the body’s response to fitness. For example, as we age, our bodies don’t use oxygen as effectively, we experience age-related skeletal muscle limitations, and recovery following a workout can take longer.

But don’t you dare use this information as an excuse to sit on the sofa!

Here’s how you can actually keep your edge without going over it:

  • Train smarter, not harder.
  • Improve your sleep habits.
  • Plan your workouts for variety and recovery.
  • Actually take time to recover.
  • Add yoga and weightlifting as a way to cross train and maintain muscle mass and flexibility.
  • Engage in “active recovery”; i.e. swim or do an easy run on your days off.
  • Keep moving “outside” of your workout, hint, “Take the stairs!”

Hotel Stairs HIEP

“My VARI Happy Body”

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

I hate to sit.

If I could walk or run to every destination, every day, and only stand once I arrived, I’d be thrilled. Unfortunately time, distance, inclement weather, and the potential for countless awkward situations doesn’t allow that.

It turns out that sitting is a terrific thing to hate, because in case you haven’t heard, sitting has recently been labeled “The New Smoking”.

I don’t know about you, but anything that keeps me chair-bound; extended periods of writing, responding to emails, etc., makes me feel awful. My energy slumps, my lower back tightens and stiffens, and it feels like all the benefits of my morning workout are draining away.

So I’m launching my own “campaign against sitting”, and kicked it off by purchasing the office tool I’ve been dying to own; a “VARIDESK”.


I’ve tried a number of different ways in the past to raise my computer in order to be able to stand and work – none of them were safe, none of them worked.

Luckily, the VARIDESK is both safe and effective. A height adjustable standing riser that comes already assembled, the VARIDESK sits on top of your existing desk and allows you to move from sitting to standing quickly and easily. I’ve used the VARIDESK for three days now, and haven’t sat in front of my computer once. When I did sit down, it was to actually hand-write something, but even that could be done on the keyboard support. I’m doing a lot of computer writing this week, so it’s the perfect time to really give it a good test drive.


The positive? I don’t feel as fatigued at the end of the day, and my back and hips are less tight – I just feel more alive throughout the day, like all systems are GO! The negative? In order for my monitor to be at the correct height while I’m standing, I had to elevate it – see my book pile in the photo – which then requires adjusting the books if I sit down. But since I only sat down to work at my desk, not on my computer, that hasn’t been an issue, yet I could see how switching from standing to sitting frequently could cause it to be.

And finally, standing for long periods of time requires paying attention to posture – I’m learning how to stand without swaying toward the keyboard – but that’s simply awareness.

So there you have it. The declaration of my “campaign against sitting” is official – and I’m vari, vari happy to participate in the movement! STAND UP and join me, won’t you?

2014 Holiday Season’s Eating & Exercise Challenge #1

Monday, December 1st, 2014





I tend to think of Thanksgiving as eating and exercise preparedness for the remainder of the holiday season, which typically wraps up (or hits a fever pitch) somewhere around New Year’s Eve. In other words, it sets the tone for the next five weeks.

Yep, we’re five Monday’s and four weekends away from 2015, unless you push your requisite January resolution off to Monday the 5th (January 1 lands on a Thursday), in which case you just bought yourself an extra weekend.

How did you manage the long Thanksgiving holiday? Did you stick as closely as you could to your typical exercise routine, or abandon it completely? Did you enjoy your favorite holiday foods and bypass those that weren’t appealing, or eat anything and everything simply in the spirit of Thanksgiving excess?

There’s a saying I’m quite fond of, “How you do anything, is how you do everything”.

I think it’s especially spot on when you apply it to eating and exercise. Consider the following. . .

If, regardless of what’s happening in your life you consistently do everything you can to take care of yourself – eat well, exercise regularly, get adequate rest and manage your stress – you’re likely to follow those practices week in and week out. A holiday (or string of them), vacation, tight work deadlines, sick kids or parents will simply present themselves as slices of your day to schedule your self-care around.

Conversely, if you eat well and exercise only when you’re dieting, trying to be healthier, or your schedule allows, you’ll repeatedly drag yourself out of an extended food and inactivity coma and fail to reach the level of consistency that confers vibrant good health and a strong, fit body.

My challenge (the first of several) to you as the holiday season heats up? Identify one thing, nutrition or fitness-wise, that you can do every day for the next week – then do that one thing, every day for the next week.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Eat 2 cups of vegetables.
  2. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier.
  3. Do 10 minutes of stretching.
  4. Eat out one less day than usual.


“Turkey Trotting”

Monday, November 17th, 2014

TurkeyTrotI can’t help it.

The holiday season is bearing down on us, and I simply have to write about the importance of keeping fitness top of mind.

Since Thanksgiving is first up in the holiday queue, let’s talk turkey trots, shall we? Specifically, let’s dispel the myths surrounding turkey trot events.

Before we get started, let me clarify.

A turkey trot is not a dance, an alcoholic beverage (that would be turkey “shot”), or code for a gastrointestinal problem of the genus meleagris.

But you know this, right? A turkey trot is a Thanksgiving Day (or somewhere close to it) run/walk event of varying distance. Come on, you know you want to do one, so read on and let me encourage you to actually sign up.


  • You must be an expert runner to participate.
  • You must be in tip top shape to participate.
  • You must wear a turkey outfit in order to participate.
  • Participating in a turkey trot negates every bite you put in your mouth at Thanksgiving dinner.

I’ll dispel these one by one.

  1. It’s perfectly acceptable to WALK a turkey trot. In fact, many races have both runner and walker registration. Likewise, it’s just as acceptable to “sorta” run a turkey trot. You can be a beginner, a weekend warrior, a runner “wannabe”. Just listen to your body so you don’t overdo it and injure yourself. Spending Thanksgiving at the urgent care may cause you to miss the pumpkin pie – and that’s just wrong.
  2. If you’ve spent the majority of your time since mid-August on the sofa, of course you’re not going to be super fit, but you’re at least willing to participate – and that’s fabulous! However, you may want to keep your enthusiasm in check, because now isn’t the best time to get caught up in the crowd frenzy and go for a PR. You want to feel accomplished and energized when you cross the finish line, not beat up and defeated.
  3. For some, turkey trotting in a turkey outfit is de rigueur, but when making your own decision, here are a couple of things to consider. Turkey outfits look toasty warm – a plus if the temperature is sliding south, not so great if it’s a mild day. They also look really cumbersome, and personally, I like unencumbered running. A “beakless” hat (easier to shove in your pocket if you overheat), plenty of layers, and a pair of gloves are both warm and practical. But hey, who ever said this event is about practicality? It could be rather fun to dress like a turkey. Just remember to not ACT like one, okay?
  4. This is perhaps the BIGGEST myth of all. You would have to run a ridiculously long turkey trot in order to cancel out every calorie from your delicious, once-per-year special meal. And even considering doing so begs the question – why? Run the turkey trot because you want to have fun, get some exercise and fresh air, and start (or uphold) a holiday tradition. Then join friends and family, enjoy their company and the revelry, and count your blessings. The BEST part of Thanksgiving Day.


Want To Reach Your Goal? ‘P’ On It.

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

2014 Half Mara1On September 7 I ran the Chicago Half Marathon, my fourth 13.1 mile race. In 2011 I ran my first Chicago half, and in 2013, due to an odd set of circumstances, I ran two; Chicago, as well as the Christie Clinic Half in Champaign, IL.

My hope is that in sharing a bit of my 2014 race journey here, you’ll find INSPIRATION to set and reach your own health goals – by ‘P’ing on them.

‘P’ersistence pays off, perfection doesn’t exist.

My goal – Three training runs per week; 3-5 miles on Tuesday and Thursday, and a long run (distance determined by where I was in my training schedule) on Saturday or Sunday.

My reality – Some weeks those Tuesday and Thursday runs wouldn’t budge above 3 miles, as my work (or sleep) schedule left too little time to get in the full distance I aimed for.

‘P’ on it – Even on days when I knew my actual run would fall short of my goal, I ran. The P’ersistence and consistency of running week in and week out, regardless of the distance, is what continually moved me forward.

‘P’erspective determines outcome.

My goal – Head into each run feeling rested, strong and prepared to do the distance required.

My reality – On Sunday, July 6, 2014 my scheduled run was 9 miles. Two days earlier I’d run the Glen Ellyn “Freedom Four” 4 mile race – a hilly course that I look forward to every year. I ran it fast. Thanks to perfect weather and consistent training, I felt strong, the run felt effortless. Fast forward 48 hours to Sunday, where my run followed the beautiful Chicago lakefront. I HATED every, single, step. I never felt rested, I didn’t feel strong, and I slogged agonizingly through all 9 miles.

‘P’ on it – I could have quit, feeling like I wasn’t making progress, but that was simply my perspective, not the reality. In truth, I needed more recovery time, but I was tied to my training schedule and not listening to my body. Changing my ‘P’erspective reminded me there was a valid reason for my tortuous experience, which in the end I found strangely comforting.

Create “I’m ‘P’ossible” out of impossible.

My goal – Run 13.1 miles in under 2:20.

My reality – 13 miles is a LONG distance. The next time you drive 13 miles, pay attention to just how far it is! If before I signed up for my first half marathon I’d focused only on the total distance, I could easily have second guessed my ability. But I’d already run a 10 mile race that same year (what’s 3 more miles?!), and lots of people – including people I actually knew – ran 13 miles. Having a frame of reference helped.

‘P’ on it – I created “I’m ‘P’ossible” out of impossible. By taking an objective look, breaking the race down in my mind to one, single mile at a time, and consistently adding bit by bit each week, I knew I could do it – and that the timing would take care of itself.




Inner Strength – Find It. Keep It.

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

20130713_075248[1]Recently, just a little over a mile into my Morton Arboretum East side running route, I spied this bench. I’ve run this stretch of the Arboretum many times, so I couldn’t believe I’d never before seen this amazing piece of functional art.

Perhaps because the location of the bench coincides with the “just getting warmed up” portion of my run, it was easy to overlook. During a warm up, I’m typically not focused on the scenery, rather, I’m simply working to find my running rhythm for the day. Regardless, I had to stop, wander over and snap a photo. I love the way this shot turned out.

I felt like the message was speaking to me, and I imagine I’m not the only one. You see, when you challenge yourself to do something, well, challenging – like running long distances, facing a food fear, or taking the first steps to changing your behavior to lead a healthier life – there are days when you feel you need super-human strength. And when you DO have one of those days, how do you find and hold on to that strength?

For me, it helps to think about the payback I’ll get for tackling a challenge. If I’m running, I think about how I’ll feel when I’m finished; accomplished, proud, strong, happy to be done! If it’s a work challenge, I think about how the outcome will move my business forward, help me become a better dietitian/nutritionist and personal trainer, or provide me with a skill to help my clients even more.

So what’s your payback for tackling a challenge? Or, let’s back up a bit to first identify the challenge. Once you’re done that, what helps you tap into your inner strength to attack that challenge head on? Then, what helps you hold onto it – on those most challenging of days?





Embraceable You

Monday, June 17th, 2013
Steamboat 2013

Steamboat 2013


This past weekend I was lucky to spend time with family – LOTS of family. Immediate family, extended family, friend family (you know, the friends you’ve had for so long they simply BECOME family?). It was Father’s Day weekend, and I was fortunate to be able to share it with my dad; hence, LOTS of family.

Also on the weekend agenda, running the Steamboat Classic 2013, a 4-mile and 15k run (Illinois’ Toughest 15k, according to race hosts, the Illinois Valley Striders) that I was fortunate to be able to share with my brother, my nephew, and my great-nephew. Nothing like being the only girl in the running pack. My great-nephew ran the 4-miler, the rest of us attacked the 9.

2013 marked the 40th year for this quirky race. I say quirky because we 15k participants had the pleasure of running the most grueling leg of the race not once, but twice. The Peoria, IL area is graced with gorgeous bluffs – bluffs equal very steep hills. Twice. Enough said.

So between lots of family and lots of runners/walkers, I was surrounded by lots of different people, and, I might add, a wide range of body types. I feel this is important to point out for two reasons.

Number one, if you’re a runner, you’ve probably noticed that many participants (of all distances, from 5k’s to Half Marathon’s) don’t always fit the stereotypical “runner’s build”. This particular race has a Clydesdale and Athena division (Weight Classes Aim to Balance Races), so you know every registrant wasn’t a lean, mean running machine. And even if you’re not a runner, you still belong to a family, so you’ve probably noticed that not all family members are built the same way (especially those extended and friend family members!).

Number two, many of the clients I see in my practice suffer from serious body image issues. They’re challenged to find even one positive physical attribute, and frequently spend hours each day attempting to exercise or starve their bodies into their vision of perfection. Which is impossible, by the way. These lovely women, beautiful just as they are, work extremely hard to embrace, let alone celebrate their unique beauty.

On the other hand, the “friends and family women” I encountered this weekend appeared completely comfortable in their bodies – they wore shorts, tank tops and tees, summer attire we wait all year to wear – and they certainly seemed to have no compunction about not being perfect. Not that I asked them, or that we even had this conversation. But being surrounded by such “normal” looking women was such a departure, not only from the clients I work with, but from the striving for bodily perfection that I frequently encounter, it was almost bewildering.

The bodies at the race were strong and fit – you simply can’t run distances of 4 or 9 miles and not be. That’s reason enough for celebration of body and spirit. The other “weekend bodies” had carried babies (ok, not ALL of them, but MOST of them), and lived full, joyful lives peppered with cookouts, beer festivals, birthday cakes, and chili suppers – all celebrations FOR body and spirit.

So if today you’re not feeling particularly perfect in your body, perhaps you can somehow see your way clear to honoring your body for all it allows you to do; like enjoy life in the walking or running lane, share good food and memories with friends and family, or even to simply show up and participate in life, and embrace YOU as a celebration of body and spirit. Imperfections and all.

Countdown To Half Marathon – RECAP – Christie Clinic Half Marathon, Champaign, IL

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

This blog update is something like 6 weeks overdue – but I’ve finally written it! I feel like I can’t continue with new posts until I add this, so here goes.

I ran the race with my brother – so meeting up with him and his grandson (he’s old enough for that; I, on the other hand, am definitely NOT) at our hotel was great fun. And rather than fight the crowds and risk dining on food that left us wanting something delicious and fulfilling, I suggested we bring food and prep it in our hotel rooms. Mind you, we’ve stayed at this hotel before and it’s a laid back spot, complete with microwave and fridge. Simple to pack up a cooler and bring along our own delish/nutrish food. And that’s just what we did! Here I am, ready to heat up my pre-cooked whole wheat pasta. Simple and spectacular.

Hotel Room Gourmet

Hotel Room Gourmet

I realize this suggestion wouldn’t always be an option, but under these circumstances, it worked brilliantly! And because I do so many healthy cooking demonstrations at corporations all over the Chicago area, I’ve got this down to a science.

After a good night’s sleep, we were up and prepping for the big day. The weather was beyond cooperative – sunny and (eventually) warm, no rain or wind – perfect running conditions. I took it as my gift for slogging through all of the horrible winter weather training sessions. Thank you.

Start Line

Start Line

At the start line, complete with my warmer sleeves (best running-with-comfort invention, ever), I was ready to go (that’s my bro just in front of me). I always start slow, conserving my fuel and energy rather than burning through it up front – so after I hit somewhere around the first mile and a half, I fell in with a pacer group running a 10:07 pace. Initially I thought, “There’s no way this is 10:07, it’s too slow”, but somewhere around mile 8 I changed my mind; definitely a 10:07 mile pace. It was challenging to maintain that pace for an extended distance, because I don’t train that way. But it was a challenge I relished; I loved experiencing how my months of training paid me back, it was oh so gratifying.

I’m eternally grateful to Michelle (her name was scrawled on her bib) the pacer. I don’t know her, but I kept her in sight and my body within a few stride lengths. I held that pace until mile 11 when I broke from the pace pack and ran out ahead to finish in 2:11:40. I felt good throughout the run, and finished strong. All my training, good nutrition, and hard work paid off!

Now I’m on the hunt for a September half, and I’m already doing a few summer runs (have a 15k this weekend). Until then, I’ll keep you posted on my running adventures – and please share yours with me; I’d love to hear how good nutrition and consistent training help you meet your fitness goals.

Happy summer, happy running, everyone!



Countdown to 1/2 Marathon – Day 2

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Tomorrow is the long-awaited, big, big day. I feel ready, I feel strong. I’m excited to be here. I’m honored to be here.

I know I’ll shed a few tears at the start line – especially when they play the national anthem. I’m assuming there will be a nod to Boston – no doubt tears will fall then. I got teary at the packet pickup when I purchased my Boston sticker – I’ll wear it proudly on my bib.

I can’t help but think how only two short weeks ago, thousands of runners felt the same excitement and anticipation, never once considering what was in store.

I’m running for me, for all those who can’t, and I’m running for Boston.

Bring it.

Boston Sticker

Boston Sticker

Countdown to 1/2 Marathon – Day 3

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

48 hours from now, I will have completed my half marathon. I can’t believe it’s so close!

Essentially, I’m finished training – completely. At this point, there’s nothing else physically that I can do to get stronger, faster, or fitter. I follow a religious foot, Achilles, and calf stretching and strengthening routine that I’ll do tonight and tomorrow; can’t really ever overdo that, and it’s helpful, even in this final hour.

Today I walked 1/2 mile to warm up, then ran an easy two miles. By easy, I’m referring to intensity. I followed that up with a yoga class – it felt really good to fit in some extended total-body stretching. The instructor’s emphasis for today’s class was on stretching and opening the sides of the body; loved it! Yoga is a wonderful antidote to running and strength training, and I try to fit it in as often as I can – unfortunately, I’ve been neglecting it because my training has taken precedence. It’s ironic that we offer Vinyasa yoga for beginners here at the NutriFit studio, but since I’m working when class is in session, I never get to reap the benefits. Too bad. . .it’s an awesome class!

A couple of days ago I was kicking around the idea of bringing food along so that once we check into our hotel we’re not held captive by over-priced, underwhelming restaurant food. It’s rare that food bothers my digestive system, but now would be a ridiculously horrible time for it to be one of those rare times. . .bringing my own food just makes more sense, especially since we’re driving. My brother likes the idea as well, so that sealed the deal and I decided to go for it.

In advance, I’ll cook up a big pot of whole wheat pasta (extremely difficult to find at a restaurant), saute’ veggies and vegan meatballs for me, and bring shrimp or chicken for my brother, nephew and husband. I’ll toss a huge salad of spinach, mushrooms, and strawberries, mix up my special olive oil-based dressing, and bring fruit and dark chocolate for dessert. When it’s time to eat, I’ll simply plug in the wok, heat the pasta and toppings, and serve up the rest. Cheap, delicious, nutritious, and smart. Well, except for the dish washing; bathtub? Nah. . .just kidding.

I’ll take pics and let you know how it works out in my post-run follow-up blog.

For now, here’s the recipe for the salad dressing – it’s divine!


1 tablespoon orange juice

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 small garlic clove, smashed

½ teaspoon ground, black pepper

In a small glass jar, combine orange juice, vinegar, olive oil, mustard, garlic and black pepper. Put the lid on the jar; shake contents vigorously until thoroughly mixed.

This salad is actually tossed with this dressing. Yum!

This salad is actually tossed with this dressing. Yum!





Countdown to 1/2 Marathon – Day 5

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Taper week continues.

Today I ran the shortest distance that I have run in months – a mere 3 miles. I’m not saying “a mere 3 miles” to downplay how challenging running 3 miles truly is. . .it’s just that when you’ve been logging anywhere from 5 – 13 miles per run for the last few months, it truly becomes “a mere 3 miles.”

Tapering requires a huge amount of mental discipline and toughness; just like the actual training. I wrote a bit about this yesterday, when I lamented just how difficult it is to scale back on my workouts. Think about it. If someone has been religiously training their body to get stronger, pushing themselves a little bit further each week in order to tackle an endurance fitness event of any sort, once they get to that deadline, they’re going to be fit – really fit. Cardiovascularly fit. Muscularly fit. Mentally fit. They’ve been training themselves to GO, and to pull back in the final hours is just so counterintuitive.

But it’s smart.

So today, because I finished my workout earlier than I normally do, I was talking with one of the guys at the gym. He asked me about my Friday night meal, like what it may be. And I’ve actually been thinking about this. Restaurants, depending on what area of the country you’re in, can be completely hit or miss. Last year, at this same race, we unequivocally dined at a miss. Call me crazy, but I’m considering packing my electric wok, a cooler full of prepped ingredients, and cooking up dinner in the hotel room. Why not? I do healthy cooking demonstrations in all sorts of places – corporate conference rooms, exhibit halls, and hotel ballrooms to name a few. Why not a hotel room?

I’ll have to give it some more thought, but I can honestly say it’s one way to insure our pre-race meal is balanced, healthy, adequate, and perhaps most importantly, delicious. What do you think? Am I crazy?


Countdown to 1/2 Marathon – Day 6

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

It’s been only 1 week since the Boston Marathon bombing, and it has been for me, as it has for countless others, a week of tremendous emotion.

When I ran my last long run on Saturday, it was such a beautiful day, and a beautiful run, but Boston loomed. As I head into the final week before my race, the pall of last Monday is woven through the excitement I feel. What to do? What every other runner in America (and beyond) is doing; run strong for Boston. In fact, this evening there are two informal runs taking place; one in Chicago and one in Deerfield that are doing just that. Wish I could participate, but work calls, so I’ll be there in spirit.

Now, a quick recap of today. Just when I thought that running through wind, rain, and snow, up seemingly never-ending hills, and putting in the long training mileage even when my body wasn’t cooperating was as hard as it would get. . .I hit taper week.

OMG! Let me be very clear. When I work out, I work out. I don’t get myself to the gym at the ridiculous hour that I do to socialize or do a few spins on the stationary bike. I’m focused, I sweat, I squeeze out every ounce of determination I’ve got, whether it’s lifting weights, doing cardio, yoga or core.

And this week? I can’t. Well, of course I can – but I’m cutting back in order to save energy and strength for the run. And it’s so hard!

Monday’s are my strength training days, and when I lift, I lift heavy (for me). Lots of women don’t lift beyond 10 pounds, give or take a couple pounds on either side of that number. It reminds me of the joke, “You should always lift weights that are heavier than your purse.” Well, plenty don’t. But I do (and so should you). You may think that lifting weights won’t impact running energy, but think about it, every extra ounce of energy your body spends repairing and getting stronger (which is essentially what happens when you lift weights) takes away from energy stores you need to run strong. If lifting weights during training impacts your running by making you stronger, why would it not have an impact now? So I had to ease back. Wicked hard.

But backing off on running? Now that I’m looking forward to. It’s a huge psychological boost to realize I only need to run 3 miles tomorrow and 2 on Thursday. Piece of cake!

So this week requires a different type of determination; scaling back, after I’ve spent 4 months pushing. And by the way, after tossing my purse on the scale in my office (hey, I’m a dietitian/nutritionist), it weighs just under 5 pounds.

My 4.75 lb. purse.

My 4.75 lb. purse.


Countdown to 1/2 Marathon – Day 7

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Yesterday was the last long run I’ll do before the big event – now a mere 7 days away. My plan was to run 10 – 12 miles, depending on how I felt. In the end, I ran 13.18. And I felt great.

Several things contributed to such a strong run.

In no particular order:

1. The weather. While it was still cold enough that I ran in 5 layers up top, two on the bottom, my ever-present red hat, and mittens (which I eventually took off), it was DRY. A week ago it was raining/snowing, gray, windy, and raw. Since those aren’t the best conditions for muscles to feel really good, for me anyway, my body never completely loosened up. It was SUNNY. Hallelujah. No need to say anything else about that. It was only occasionally WINDY. It really is more difficult to run in the wind; 20 mph headwinds can cost 20% of your energy.

2. New playlist. To run with or without music is an individual choice, but for me it’s a no-brainer. I run better with music – preferably something with a strong bass line, something in the “funk, R & B, blues” genre. I finally created a new compilation of music that contains these sort of tunes and more, and it was like putting rockets in my shoes. In fact, there are studies showing the positive impact of music on performance, and this study in particular suggests how syncing music tempo with pace will either slow you down or speed you up. But if you’re a run-with-music type, you don’t need a study to tell you that!

3. Well-fed, well-rested. Again, a no-brainer. Eating well and getting plenty of sleep is pretty consistent for me. I’m never at my best without adequate sleep, so I make sure that I get it. And crappy food? Even when I’m not training for a race, it doesn’t feel good to eat bad food (by bad I mean heavily processed, artificial, poor quality), so I just don’t do it. Oh, and this is a good time to skip the alcohol; save it for later!

So the sum of the parts is greater than the whole, in this case anyway. All of these things combined make for a strong practice run and/or a strong race, but because only #2 and #3 are in your control (don’t stress about the weather, just prepare for it) put your focus and energy there.

Did someone mention quality fuel? Here’s a recipe for a post-workout smoothie full of antioxidants, protein, and carbs. Enjoy!

 Blueberry-Spinach Smoothie

1 1/2 cups coconut water

1/2 cup non-fat, Greek-style plain yogurt

1 cup packed fresh spinach

2/3 cup blueberries (frozen is fine)

1 Tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Place all ingredients in a blender, blend until smooth.

Blueberry-Spinach Smoothie

Blueberry-Spinach Smoothie





Countdown to 1/2 Marathon – Day 9

Friday, April 19th, 2013

As a running dietitian (or a dietitian who runs), of course I can’t overlook the nutritional component of training. I wrote about nutrition here, and included a recipe for the most amazing waffles. I hope you’ve had an opportunity to try them – did I mention they’re amazing?

At this point in a half marathon training program (7-10 days out from the actual race day), tapering begins. Tapering is a fancy way of saying “Cut back on your training.” It may sound counterintuitive, but cutting back on the mileage and number of training days you’ve been doing allows the body to rebuild muscle and energy reserves – two things definitely needed on race day.

From a nutrition perspective, it makes sense to eat well THROUGHOUT your training, but especially in the last 1-2 weeks, loading up on high quality food is a good strategy, and it certainly won’t hurt!

Focus on lots of fresh fruits and vegetables for antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Lean protein, both plant-based (beans, soy, nuts) and healthy animal choices (eggs, lean red meat, fish, chicken and turkey) provides amino acids and iron. Grains (preferably whole wheat) contribute critical carbohydrate, B vitamins and iron. Healthy fats like those found in olive and canola oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, and fatty fish keep you full, help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, and may help reduce inflammation. And don’t forget sources of calcium, from both plants AND animals; soy or cow’s milk, cheese, broccoli, yogurt, navy beans and almonds are just a handful of options.

It’s not a good idea to try a new food or drink the day before or day of your race – you don’t know how your body will react, and this is definitely not the time to find out!

In an effort to help you load up on quality, nutritious food, I’m sharing a delicious tempeh dish that I prepared last night. If you’re not familiar with tempeh (a fermented soybean cake that tastes so much better than it sounds), here’s a light-hearted overview (and a recipe that looks delicious); And if you just can’t summon the wherewithal to try tempeh, simply substitute chicken, shrimp or lean beef.

My made-up recipe:

Sautéed Tempeh and Veggies With Quinoa and Peanut Sauce

1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon canola or olive oil

2 packages tempeh, diced

1/2, 10 oz. bag fresh baby spinach

1/2 lb. button mushrooms, sliced

1 bunch green onions, sliced

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1 cup water

1. In a large skillet (I like to use cast iron) over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the tempeh and let cook until it begins to brown on one side. Toss it about to brown on a couple of sides (to brown all sides of each piece you’d be at this step forever – do the best you can). The tempeh will quickly absorb the oil; to prevent it from sticking and to add another layer of flavor, stir the soy sauce into the water and add to the skillet.

2. Let the tempeh cook, stirring every now and again, until it absorbs all of the soy sauce & water mixture.

3. Once the tempeh has absorbed the liquid, transfer it to a bowl and set aside. Add 1 teaspoon additional oil, and sauté the green onion for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they begin to brown. Add the baby spinach (no need to chop, just add the whole leaves) and sauté the whole thing together for just a minute or two, or until the spinach begins to wilt. Don’t overcook or the spinach will be soggy.

4. Serve the veggies and tempeh over cooked, hot quinoa, rice, or a mixture of both. (Why this strategy? We had leftover rice in the fridge, but not quite enough, so I started a pan of quinoa while the tempeh was cooking. We combined the quinoa and rice – nice way to add different texture.) Don’t know quinoa? Try this:

5. And finally, we had peanut sauce left over from a tofu dish we’d prepared a couple of evenings prior Since tempeh and peanut sauce are simply made for each other, I drizzled it over everything – heaven! My two cents, cut back a little on the amount of ginger called for; although I love it, I felt it was a bit overwhelming.



Baby Spinach

Baby Spinach

Fresh Mushrooms

Fresh Mushrooms

Countdown To 1/2 Marathon – Day 10

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

So excited – got my bib number today. That’s the number I’ll wear during the run, and what I need in order to pick up my race packet at the expo. It’s an IDENTIFIER. . .4 numbers that determine my runner identity (for 13 miles).

At this point, all the training is pretty much wrapped up – I have one more long training run on Saturday, and a short run next Tuesday or Wednesday; haven’t quite decided which day will be best yet.

This is one of my shortest posts, ever. Long day, long week – brain is tired. Boston still weighing heavy, always at the back of my mind, regardless of what I’ve been doing over the past few days.

More tomorrow, I know when to bag it and call it a night.

Countdown to 1/2 Marathon – Day 12

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

The heavy heart I felt last night lingers – this morning I started my 5 mile Tuesday run thinking of little else but the Boston tragedy. Honestly, I can’t imagine there’s a runner anywhere today who didn’t have the same experience. I dedicated my run to the victims, but somehow, it didn’t ease my mind as much as I thought it would.

This afternoon I received an email announcement from the race director of my upcoming run (it’s a marathon AND a half marathon race), acknowledging the Boston tragedy and offering assurance of and outlining security precautions for the event. While I appreciated the thoughtfulness of the message, the fact that it was even necessary saddened me further, and sent a slight chill up my spine. There is no doubt that the cloud of this tragedy will hang over the start, race course, and finish of this race.

Running is about joy, freedom, peace. All of the things that terrorism (regardless of where it originates; foreign, domestic, or any other sort) is not. So as I was running, I decided not to participate in the ugliness by letting the “bad guys win” and the sadness overwhelm me, nor further antagonize myself by playing an endless loop of negative messages in my brain. Perhaps most helpful of all – I haven’t viewed news coverage since last night. I believe in staying up-to-date, but the media takes it too far, makes it too sensationalized.

Instead, I decided to run for peace and kept my mind occupied with this:

P – Perseverance

E – Equality

A – Acceptance

C – Consideration

E – Enlightenment

Join me. You don’t even have to be a runner. You can walk for peace, sing for peace, dance for peace, jump rope for peace. In the end, it doesn’t really matter how we get there, only that we do.

Countdown to 1/2 Marathon – Day 13

Monday, April 15th, 2013

It is with a heavy heart that I write today’s post.

I’m listening to coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing and have only two questions. How can such an evil act touch such an innocent, joyful event? When will it end?

Just yesterday, I wrote about envisioning the actual day of an event you spend months training for. The joy, the excitement, the thrill.

In my wildest, most obscure thoughts, terrorism, bombings, and mass destruction weren’t even considered.

Tomorrow is a run day. Every step I take will be in honor of the Boston Marathon victims, their families, and their loved ones.


Countdown to 1/2 Marathon – Day 14

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

When you’ve spent time planning for and/or working toward a big event, two weeks out from the actual date feels a bit surreal. A wedding, a vacation, a milestone birthday celebration (I’ve done all three), the ACTUAL event really doesn’t matter. You’ve envisioned what you want and taken small steps daily, weekly, and monthly to make it happen – you know, “working toward achieving the goal.”

Yet while you’re in the moment doing all the stuff that moves you forward, it’s not uncommon to lose sight of the ACTUAL DAY. Maybe not completely lose sight of it, but at times it can seem so far off that it feels like the ACTUAL DAY will never arrive. We all know THAT’S not true.

As I look two weeks into the future, I’m really getting excited for the race. Wait. I’m going to stop calling it “the race”, because I’m not racing – I’m just running. To finish. I’m not worried in the least that I won’t finish; this is my second ½ marathon, and I’ve long lost count of how many organized runs I’ve participated in. But I’m excited for all of the excitement that surrounds a running event.

My brother is training for the same race, er, run. In fact, he’s the reason I’m running this particular ½, so that makes it even more fun. I’ve never run a “travel race event” before; every event I’ve done has been close enough that I just get out of my own bed and show up at the finish line. Oh wait, except The Soldier Field 10-Mile that I ran two years ago – we stayed at a hotel downtown. But that doesn’t count – Chicago’s loop is a mere 25 miles from my driveway :). The race I’m doing on the 27th actually requires several hours of driving and a hotel. And a restaurant. More on that in another post. So a travel event is fun, too. It’s different – I love different.

So yesterday, as I ran my second to last distance training run (I did 12 miles again!), practiced using my Honey Stinger Acai Pomegranate Flavor Organic Energy Gel (which I just can’t get enough of, seriously,) and staying adequately hydrated (there’s the dietitian/nutritionist in me again), I thought about all of the hours I’ve put in for a (hopefully) 2.5 hour run on the ACTUAL day.

Most Delicious Energy Gel Ever!

Most Delicious Energy Gel Ever!

And I smiled. I thought about how it reminded me of planning for and anticipating my wedding, our vacation trips to all sorts of different (I love different) places, and that other ½ marathon that I ran two years ago. Life is essentially one, long, goal setting, planning and achieving event – what’s yours?


Daffodils & Mittens Should Not Appear In Same Pic.

Daffodils & Mittens Should Not Appear In Same Pic