Thursday, June 30, 2011

Super Pooped

Visions of ...vacation?
Today was one of those days at work that I knew was not going to as intended the moment I sat down at my desk around 7:30AM with my coffee this morning. It was mostly self-induced stress because I pride myself on the quality of my work, and I felt a little off-kilter with amount of comments I came out of my review with.

It's all good though, nothing I can't handle. I just need to let my brain settle down this evening. :)

Tempo Run? Yeah, right.
I was supposed to do a 5 miler, with 3 miles of tempo pace tonight but I was just not feeling it when I got home. Instead I decided to go for a slow, pokey sans Garmin run. It was just what I needed.

Naamah's Blessing (Kushiel's Legacy)
My new book is currently calling my name and my brain feels half-melted from work today. Check back tomorrow for a less scatter-brained Sarah post. :)

Stop cravings dead in their tracks!

We're sticking with last week's Thursday tip theme of daydreaming. Only this week, the tip comes with a more practical application.
Image: dan /
In a society obsessed with unhealthy food, and advertising for the newest Wendy's, McDonald's, Burger King (etc. etc.) meal everywhere you turn, you are bound to crave something unhealthy at some point in your day.  When the craving strikes though, a recent study indicates you should let your mind wander off into daydream land, picturing anything but food.

Dreaming about a lovely vacation on the beach?

Aching to get a good long run in?

Wishing you were at home canoodling with your loved one?

Picture that instead and you might just be able to lessen the craving to the point where you can make a better decision.

However despite visualizing something more sensually appealing, the study participants were didn't actually eat less of the foods they craved over the course of the four days of the study. Don't let that discourage you though, the researchers theorize that this is merely a stepping stone method to making better food decisions.

What do you do when a craving strikes you?

No lunch time post today! Too busy at work today. Check back this evening. :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Evil Bees

I hate bees
Image: jscreationzs /
When I was 4, a big ol' bumble bee landed on my thumb, I recall thinking how pretty and cool it was. Then it stung me. I've been emotionally scarred ever since. My parents will confirm this.

Have you ever been driving along with the windows down, innocently rocking out to your favorite tunes and suddenly this evil little bee flies into your car?

You're freaking out but trying to remain calm, so as to not swerve off the road in your panic.

No? Never experienced that?

Okay, maybe that's just me then.

Freaking bees.

ADD Gym Day
I usually plan my workouts out before I head into the gym, but that doesn't stop me from switching up the plan when I get there. Such was the case today as I was swapping out exercises like a fiend. It ended up looking like this:
5 min warmup on treadmill @ 6.3mph
Clap Push-Ups x 8
Body Weight Squats w/Front Kick x 2 minutes
Neutral Grip Pull Ups 5x45lb assist & 6w/55lb assist
(Split Squat Jumps x 20) x 2
Barbell Upright Row w/45lbs x 8
Squats w/lateral kicks x 2 minutes
3 pt planks (30 sec on one leg, 30 sec in reg.) x 2
Stairstepper x 2 minutes
Tricep Dips w/stacked feet x 10
Mountain Climbers on Stability Ball x 2 minutes
Back Extensions on the Stability Ball x 12
5 minute cooldown @ 6.3mph
The gym at work is actually having a little summer challenge that everyone can compete in. The goal is to visit the most cities in the US by accumulating miles. You get miles by logging exercise minutes. I picked the cutest little icon, a cute monkey with a heart shaped face. It starts July 5th. I'm excited! I'll try to get a picture of my cute little monkey icon.

Indecision Station
I changed my dinner plans about seven times today. I could not decide on what I wanted to eat; nothing seemed all that appealing. Eventually I settled on one of my favorite fall back options:
The good ol' chicken taco salad. And now I have several servings of hot'n'spicy ground chicken taco meat, so guess who's having taco salad tomorrow for lunch! That's right, this woman. I felt like a warm, sweet drink with my dinner tonight.
My trusty Keurig delivered! :)

I love my Kindle!
I have a wireless delivery awaiting the moment I turn my Kindle on this evening. I'm psyched for this book:
Naamah's Blessing (Kushiel's Legacy)

It's the last book in the trilogy, so I'm hoping to see several threads tied up.

Random QOTD: Is anyone watching SYTYCD? Who are your favorites this season?

3 more days...

Homemade Nutella?
I tried to make my own hazelnut butter last weekend.I took it a step further after I realized my hazelnuts were just ground and not turning into butter. I added a little bit of safflower oil and a couple of chocolate chips. The results? Not exactly visually appealing:
That didn't stop me from putting it into my oatmeal this morning:
Hazelnuts, chocolate and strawberries are another one of my favorite oatmeal flavor combinations. However my version of Nutella needs some serious work. It was a bit gritty and the flavor of the hazelnuts didn't really pop out at me. That's fine by me though because the kitchen is basically my laboratory and you have to have failed experiments to find the best results! :)

Oops, I skipped yoga last night
The decision process went like this:
Sarah dials home
Mom: Hi Sarah!
Sarah: Hi Mommy, how are things?
Mom: Things are good, how about you?
Sarah: Mommy, I don't want to go to yoga
Mom: So don't.
Sarah: Okay!
conversation diverges away from yoga
I just wasn't feeling up to 90 minutes of class last night, so instead I went out for my 2-miler, did it in 17:25ish and then did a bunch of dishes. I also managed to be in bed by 10:30, yay! A night well spent in my opinion.

Holiday Weekend Plans
Eric and I are staying in and having our own little BBQ. I haven't come up with any good menu plans yet though. I'm waffling between wanting a burger (but not beef, maybe chicken or turkey...) or a good (organic, not sodium laden) hot dog. There will definitely be corn on the cob and I froze some pureed watermelon into ice cubes so that I could make a granita out of them at some point. July 4th seems like an appropriate time to have watermelon granita to me.

I also have plans to reacquaint myself with the marzipan I have in the freezer. I need to shape it into tiny little carrots to use as toppings for my Mom's birthday carrot cupcakes. I love making little marzipan decorations. Last year I did strawberries for her strawberry cake:
Cute and edible!

What's your favorite kind of nut butter? Have you ever tried making your own or do you leave that up to the professionals?

I'm going to implement a new labeling system soon. I'm not in love with my current one but I've got to derive a better list of categories for my posts first.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Five Best Things In My Gym Bag

As I dumped out my gym bag onto the floor this morning, hunting for my pair of jeans, I got to thinking. What are the Top 5 things in my gym bag that I couldn't go to the gym without? Well, here's my list...

1. Garmin 405CX w/Heart Rate Strap
Garmin Forerunner 405CX GPS Sport Watch with Heart Rate Monitor (Blue)
It's several gadgets in one! How can you go wrong with a watch that functions as a GPS when you're outside, and can act as a heart rate monitor when you're at the gym? Sure the 405 model is a little (okay, a lot) bulky for my wrist, but it's completely and totally worth it. BEST Birthday gift ever Eric! :) My left wrist is even sporting a mild Garmin tan. I wear it like a badge of honor.

2. iPod Shuffle (in pink!)
Apple iPod shuffle 2 GB Pink (4th Generation) NEWEST MODEL

I only bring this shuffle to the gym with me. I never take it on an outdoor run. I enjoy running sans headphones too much to consider it. But for the gym, while I'll still do my workout if I forget it, it helps give me that extra pop of energy I need to get through a rough set of lifting exercises. It's the perfect size and I enjoy having my songs come on at random.

3. ChapStick in Classic Cherry
Chapstick Classic Lip Balm Spf 4 Cherry, 0.15 oz (Pack of 3)

My lips get really sticky-dry when I workout. Chapstick prevents that annoying fact! And the cherry flavor reminds me of being a kid again, can't go wrong here.

4. Ouchless Hair Elastics
Goody Ouchless 27 Elastics
This one is also straight forward. I have a lot of fine, straight hair and I hate when it sticks to the back of my sweaty neck. I also hate getting my hair caught in the metal part of the other kind. I carry a bunch of these around at any given time, and usually wear one of them on my right wrist as a functional bracelet.

5. Assorted Color Fine Felt Tip Pens
Paper Mate Flair Point-Guard Porous Point Pens, 12 Colored Pens
I know what you're thinking. What the heck is Sarah carrying around colorful felt tip markers around in her gym bag for? Well, I was one of those dorky kids who loved to go school supply shopping before the school year and who took notes in different colors. I find that having a variety of colors helps keep my workout notebook fresh and fun. Yeah, I'm a dork, not much else to say about that. :)

What about you? What are your top 5 gym bag items? I'm curious to hear!

Good morning, good morning!

good morning! :)
I awoke to the wonderful smell of warm, cooking oat groats, which in my opinion, is one of the best ways to start the day.
I love egg breakafsts, but this particular meal will always have a special place in my heart. There's something satisfying about a warm bowl of peanut butter banana oatmeal.  It just puts me in a good mood to start the day.

I got 7.5 hours of sleep last night, and I'm feeling better than I was yesterday. I'm a little stiff from yesterday's workout though. Speaking of which...

exercise yesterday
I'm starting to love low-key cross-training days like yesterday; I keep it easy because I know it takes a couple days for my body to recover fully from a long run.
Warmup: 5 minutes on treadmill @ 6.3 mph
Push Ups with feet on the stability ball x 10
Straight Legged Deadlift with 50lbs x 8
Assisted Neutral Grip Pull Ups (w/45lb assist)x5, (w/55lb assist)x5
Single Leg Squats with Leg Back - left leg x 16, right leg x 8
Barbell Upright Row with 45lbs x 8
3 pt planks (30 sec one foot, 30 sec both feet)x 2
5 minute cooldown with the jump rope
The single leg squats really show the stark difference in strength between my legs. My left leg is not nearly as strong as my right, and I suspect that's why my right leg is often more sore or more like to hurt than my left. I guess more single leg exercises are in my future.

Tonight I have an easy 2-miler and some Ashtanga. It still amazes me that I have found the type of yoga that fits me perfectly. I'm actually trying to find a good book/poster/video that lists the poses in order so I can practice them at home. If you happen to know of a good one, let me know!

Ever taken a yoga class? What one and what'd you think of it? Drop me a line below! :)

have a good Tuesday everyone!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Compiling Idols

It's compiling! I swear!
For anyone who doesn't know a lick about computer programming, this is legit:
I heart xkcd.

My Running Idol: Kara Goucher
Today while my code was compiling, I was perusing Runner's World, and I came across this article. I now totally have a girl/runner crush on Kara Goucher. It's so wonderful to know that even professional runners struggle with head games and have to work to overcome them. This sentence hit home for me:
When she toes the line in a 10-K, the runners around her wonder if she'll set an American record. Inside her head, though, she's wondering if she can finish without walking.
That is exactly how I feel every time I toe the line at any race. I'm by no means an world class runner, but I define my own high standards and sometimes the negative voices creep and start to tell me I'm not a real runner, that I'm not as good as everyone else.

It's pretty ridiculous if you think about it.  I'm 26, fit, strong and healthy as a horse. I shaved 2.5 minutes off my Westborough Spring Festival 5K in a single year. I am a runner, even if it's just recreational. I'm going to print this story and read through it before every one of my races from now on; it's just so compelling to me.

I also love that Kara doesn't look like a super skinny stick runner. She has muscles! Look at those arms! I don't think I could have stumbled across a better running idol.

off to bed with me
Five hours of sleep does me no favors. I'm soooo sleepy right now that I just have to go crash.

Do you have any sports idols? Or a celebrity that you admire? Lemme know in a comment below
hehe! I'm a poet and I didn't even know it.

Monday Morning Drive-by

oh hi there blog readers! :) Not much time for an update this morning! I'm hoping to get a recipe up tonight, but I'll have to see how busy I end up being today.

It's Monday and I slept a measly five hours last night!
That simple combination would normally make me cranky and ornery but I refuse. We choose how we let things affect us and I choose to go forward today with a smile on my face and a good attitude.
I'm not sure why I couldn't sleep, suffice it to say my brain would not shut off. I wish that thing came with an off switch. I'll just have to catch up on my Z's tonight.

Tomato Plant update
I know it's not Friday, but I got so excited when I noticed this on Sunday that I had to share:
A teensy little baby tomato, YAY! Something I grew from seed is actually producing fruit. I don't have black thumbs anymore!

busy work week
I've got a busy week ahead of me, so I've planned out all my meals in advance. Today I'm having one of my favorite sides for lunch:
Strawberry Avocado Salad with a splash of fresh lime juice, in addition to a turkey sandwich on Ciabatta. Yum! Off to finish packing my lunch, but first...

Do you pack your lunch or are you the type that eats out every day?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Balmy Sunday

smoke alarm fiasco
Last night, as I was standing in the kitchen, checking on the Cornish Hen that was a'roasting, our entire townhome's worth of smoke alarms went off. I immediately look around the kitchen to see if I lit anything on fire. I didn't. Eric and I walk around the apartment looking for a source of smoke. Nothing! Neither of us know how to get them to turn off so we put in an emergency call to maintenance. The maintenance guy arrives about ten minutes later, then Eric and he wander about the townhome trying to figure out the source of the beeping.

Turns out we had low batteries in two of our smoke detectors upstairs, subsequently setting off the ENTIRE house. Ergh. My eye twitches just thinking about it.

long run sunday
I did 7 miles this morning. It was one of those fantastic runs that you just feel good the entire time.  That was despite the Florida levels of humidity; I was just in the zone today. I've also been working at having consistent split times for my miles and I'm seeing significant improvements. It's a fun mental game for me to try and keep myself around the same pace the whole time.

I'm in love with making fresh bread! It's one of life's simpler pleasures.

have a great rest of Sunday everyone! :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

bzzzz...that's the sound of busy bee me!

Oh hi there blog readers!

It's Saturday! YAY! :)

I woke up uncharacteristically late for me today, a whopping 6AM EST. I know, wicked late, right? You'll excuse me while I roll my eyes at my body's suddenly developed early bird propensity. At least it gives me time to put together a delicious breakfast: two sunny side up eggs topped with cubed avocado on a toasted english muffin with a sliced orange on the side.
I'm a firm believer that slicing your oranges is the only way to eat them. This is probably because it seems like every time I go to peel an orange, three things happen:
  1. My nails turn orange for the remainder of the day,
  2. My fingers smell like orange no matter how many times I wash them, and
  3. I somehow manage to get orange zest oil in my eye, ow.
I guess I'm just a klutz.

After I got the beans soaking for my Guiltless Black Bean Dip recipe, I took a quick jaunt out to Target to pick up some shirt and pants/skirt hangers as I've been short a few hangers since I moved in March. Then I headed over to Lowe's in the hopes that I would find a relatively thin unglazed ceramic or terra cotta tile. Sadly, I couldn't find one so I'm going to have to go back out again tomorrow morning to Target (AGAIN!%#) to get a cheap-o baking stone. I'm planning on making Ciabatta bread tomorrow and the stone is necessary for baking it.

I finally took the time to check out the nearby running store too and couldn't stop myself from purchasing this:
My right leg has been a little off lately, and Foamy the Foam Roller just wasn't able to target the right spots for me. So now I have my own Stick and won't need to hope that my cubemate (Hi Frank!) brings his in. :)

Saturday Night Dinner!
Eric and I usually don't cook fancy dinners all that often. Convenience is key during the weeknights; we usually don't get home until around 6:30 and by then I'm about to turn into a ravenous squirrel beast. So that means on the weekend, one of us actually gets a chance to prepare a nice meal for the both of us. This week I'm making:
Roasted Cornish Hen with a Green Tomato Relish Sauce
Polenta Cakes
Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Today's Exercise
I wanted to get an early morning 3-miler in but when I was about to get ready to go out, it started storming. I put it off, and am about to head out and do that now.  I've got a pretty massive headache right now, so hopefully this run will cure it. Then I think it's self-pedicure time!

Random QOTD:
What's your favorite season?

have a wonderful rest of Saturday! :)

Guiltless Spicy Black Bean Dip

A month ago, I was walking through the local grocery store and came by the dried bean aisle. I stopped and thought to myself, "I wonder what I could do with some dried black beans." I bought a package, returned home, put all the groceries away and forgot that I'd purchased a bag of dried black beans.

Last weekend while I was pawing through the pantry, searching for something else, I came across the beans again. I'd run out of hummus earlier in the week, and had half a box of Triscuits with nothing to eat them with. On a complete whim, I decided to make a black bean dip to have
something to eat with my Triscuits.
Guiltless Spicy Black Bean Dip
by Sarah

8 oz. dried black beans
7 cups of hot water, divided
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, stems included
1/2 tablespoon lime juice, freshly squeezed
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Dash ground black pepper

1. Carefully comb through your beans for rocks and other debris!

2. Combine 4 cups of hot water and beans in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover with lid and leave set for 1 hour.

3. Drain and rinse beans and pan. Return beans to saucepan and cover with 3 cups of hot water. Simmer for 2 hours over low heat.

4. Drain beans and reserve 1/2 cup of bean water.

5. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the cilantro until just chopped. Add beans and process until a thick paste forms.

6. In a slow and steady stream, pour in the reserved water. Process until the mixture resembles a creamy paste.

7. Add in the salt and spices. Pulse until just combined. NOTE: You may need to use your spatula to scrape down the sides of the processor and thoroughly combine the dip.

Serving size: 2 tablespoons (15g)
Yield: approximately 19 servings
Note: a serving is roughly 40 calories, hence the guiltless part!

Carefully comb through your beans; rocks aren't tasty. Unless, of course, you want to lose a tooth!
The beans spend a lot of time like this. :)
If you happen to have a cilantro plant handy (like me!), go trim some off and bring it in. If not, you can just use fresh cilantro from the store.
No need to pick off just the leaves; the stems are edible too.
Give the cilantro two quick pulses until it looks sort of like this.
Drain the beans and reserve the liquid. You do not need this much. I just happened to take the picture before I poured the rest out.
Lime juice!
Process until the beans resemble a coarse paste. It's okay to have some bigger sized skins at this point. They'll get processed further later on in the recipe.
After you've added the reserved liquid in a slow stream, spice it up and then mix.

Enjoy! Let me know in a comment below if you make it. Recipe feedback is always handy.