My Running Story

November 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Well hello there!

Before you tell me how long it’s been since my last Renew You post, let me just explain how ca-razy my intern life has been in the last few weeks..

  • The ever-popular Clinical Rotation started on October 17th and has been in full force since then.
  • Personal Training has picked up! Which is good $$ and experience, not so good for blogging regularly.
  • Both the boyfriend and my Mom have visited me!
  • Weekends have been devoted to the office and new clients. I know, I live a WILD lifestyle!
  • Lastly, I am in the early stages of MARATHON planning!!!!!

I really couldn’t wait to talk about the last one, so I decided to devote the post to the subject. Yes, you read that right, I will training for and running the Colfax Marathon on May 20, 2012 and I could not be more excited!  I figured this would be a good time to discuss race training if any readers may be interested in the topic but aren’t quite sure of where to begin.

Now, I’m by no means an expert on the topic of running, but I do have a bit of experience with races ranging from 5k all the way up to 1/2 Marathon distance so I would like to think I kind-of know what I’m talking about.  I would be happy to answer any questions regarding racing that you may have!

First, I’ll tell you a little bit of a story…

So I moved to Colorado in the Fall of 2009–one of the best decisions of my life–and though I had always enjoyed running, it was suddenly a culture and I couldn’t get enough of it. Living in such a health-minded state was one of the major factors that gave me a boost to move forward with this hobby, which later turned to a passion.

Fast forward four months … My best friend and I began eying up races as a way to keep us motivated and challenged.  Right around Christmas-time (the point where we had realized we were probably having a little bit too much fun and had let our healthy habits fall to the wayside), we decided to register for a 13.1 mile race that was scheduled for the following March.  Training would begin as soon as we got back from vacation and we would dominate this challenge. Training was tough, but we made it through and we both finished the race strong.

Here’s me afterwards!

Lovely picture, right? Ha.

I was SO happy and proud of myself after I completed this that I immediately started dreaming of doing more races–maybe even a full marathon.  But was it possible? It just seemed so daunting to me at the time that I put the idea in the back of my head. People who want to run that far are “out of their mind” I told myself… I just wasn’t mentally ready.  But I kept running my heart out and loved every minute of it.  I thought about my next race, but only signed up for some fun races that required little extra training.

During the summer, Jessica (the best friend) decided to sign up for the Denver Rock ‘n Roll Marathon that coming October.  I was so excited for her and decided that i would do it too because I knew if we were together, we could do anything. Training plans were set and we kept each other accountable for long runs.  To me, everything seemed to be going great.  But I had also never trained for anything like this before so in hindsight, I really wasn’t working my hardest on training.

A few weeks before the race, we set out to do an 18-miler just like all of our other long runs on a cool Saturday morning.  We had camelbacks set out the night before along with our running shoes, ipods, and GU packets.  The alarm went off at 6am and we drove to our usual spot on campus to head out for one of our last scheduled long runs before the big day.  About two miles in, I felt a knee pain unlike anything I had every felt before.  It was so excruciating that I could barely walk let alone run and I had to turn back… Jessica finished the run while I sat in the car and cried to myself because I thought I was a failure.

Long story short (um, shorter than it could be?), I ended up bumping down to the half marathon distance after completely taking three weeks off from running.  Although I was happy to be able to stay in the race, I was still so hurt that I couldn’t complete my original goal.

That’s us after the race. Jessica did great… I was so happy for her but so let-down because I was wishing I could have finished the whole thing.

After this experience, I took months off of running which was incredibly hard for me to do, but necessary if I wanted to have another shot.  That was about a year ago and here I am, ready to try again.

So many things are different about this time around including my attitude, dedication, training schedule and availability.  I know I can do this.

I made several rookie mistakes the first time, here are some things I am doing differently this time around:

  • Rigorous training schedule w/more time commitment. The last time we trained, I did quite a bit of rearranging to fit running better into my social life.  I also neglected sufficient cross-training and strength/flexibility because I didn’t think it was as important as my runs.
  • More stretching & foam rolling.  This is something I just hadn’t learned.  I never knew the importance of these two things until it was simply too late, but I won’t make the mistake of neglecting them again.
  • Ice, ice, ice.  I also never knew of the benefits of an ice bath until after the race.  Something I will experiment with after long runs!
  • Healthier eating.  I consider myself a healthy eater, but I think this can get “distorted” while training for an endurance event.  It’s easy to indulge in ice cream, beer, and greasy food when you’re burning mega calories with exercise.  But, I think it’s more important than ever to eat good quality food when training and this time I will stick closer to this.
  • Dedication. I want to eat and breathe this marathon for four straight months until race day and this time I’m really going to show that.  Working at a gym is a great advantage because I’m there almost every day and there really isn’t an excuse to miss workouts.

What other tips do you guys have?  Any personal racing experiences to share?

It’s been a long-road coming, but I’m finally ready to jump on the marathon train.  Six months, one week from today I will be accomplishing a dream. Bring it on Colfax!




Relaxing Weekend

October 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Note the difference between my dinner when my chef roommate cooks and when I cook for just myself…

Friday night–>Chef

I loved this dish! Angel hair pasta is my favorite I think… So delicate and it goes great with everything!  There is also chopped asparagus, cherry tomatoes, browned chicken and pine nuts mixed in.  Perfect with a splash of red wine.

Saturday Night–>Me

Mm grilled cheese.  Don’t be fooled, this can be healthy too!  When I make dinner for just myself, I go for easy and low-cost.

Ways to bump up the nutrition of your typical greasy sandwich:

  • I used Ezekial Sprouted Grain bread (cinnamon raisin) which is full of fiber and protein.  Any whole grain bread is a good choice!
  • Go easy on the cheese.  While cheese isn’t a “bad” food it does have a lot of saturated fat and is calorically dense, so keep it reasonable.
  • Add some vegetables.  I actually had some low-sodium tomato soup on the side but didn’t take a picture.  Sometimes I even add veggies inside the sandwich, but it really is up to you!

Now it’s Sunday.  I typically make a big meal that I can eat throughout the week for easy lunches and dinners.  I’m stumped!  Any suggestions?

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend–enjoy what’s left!

Recipe Spotlight + Workout

October 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Mmm Chicken Chili!

It is SO that time of year.  And let me tell you, this is one of the easiest and tastiest recipes I know.  Let this be my “Recipe of the Week” that I pack for lunches and freeze for later on (i.e. when I don’t feel like cooking anything else in three weeks).

The basic steps:

  1. Boil 1 lb of chicken breast (I use tenders because they cook super fast) then shred and put off to the side.
  2. Head a large soup pot and toss in 1 can of each of the following: broth, black beans, refried beans, corn, salsa (1 small jar).
  3. Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer and throw in the chicken and a cup or so of pre-cooked rice (use brown if you’re feeling extra motivated).
  4. Stir and let thicken.  That’s all!

As you can see from the photo, I like to serve mine with shredded cheddar, chopped red onion, avocado and hot sauce.  Some prefer a dollop of sour cream or plain greek yogurt… To each their own!

On an exercise note, I feel like I haven’t given to much direction in terms of workout ideas on the blog so I wanted to take some time for that now!  I have been training a variety of clients lately and I can generally use this same type of style (with some modifications for the individual).

A 30-Minute Circuit—-Fast and Furious!

Warm-up on treadmill or elliptical, 3-5 minutes

Do the following for 30 seconds each, repeat 2x

  • Stability Ball Wall Squat with Bicep Curl
  • Walking Lunges with Medicine Ball Lift
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Push-ups (modified or toe)
  • Standing Rows w/Band
  • Step-ups on Bench
  • Dead Lift w/Barbell
  • Mountain Climbers

Core Exercises, 30 seconds each

  • Bicycle crunches
  • Reverse crunches
  • Swimmers

Cool-down and stretch, 3-5 minutes

With small breaks in between (less than 30 seconds), this should take no longer than a half hour.  It’s tough, gives you a great sweat and keeps your heart rate up the entire time.  Modify as necessary to meet your needs.

YouTube is a great resource for exercise demos, but if you have questions feel free to contact me!

5 Things to Add to Your Grocery List

Ah the joy of grocery shopping…

Remember how we discussed planning ahead in the last post?  Well I figured I should give you some ideas of what exactly to put on the shopping list of which I spoke so highly.  Here are some things I’m loving right now…


Raspberries.  I just found this out, but raspberries are in season right now and probably on sale at your grocery store.  I always forget how wonderful they are until eating a a yogurt/granola/raspberry bowl for breakfast in the morning. Aren’t they beautiful?  If you need a solid granola recipe, I highly recommend this Elvis Granola.

Pumpkin. Need I say more?!  The flavors of cinnamon and cloves are some of my favorites and I especially love adding them to oatmeal around this time of year when you can finally find canned pure pumpkin on the shelves again.  Make sure you don’t mistakenly buy the pumpkin pie mix which is overly sweetened… We want the real deal!  Make oats as normal and stir in a spoonful of pumpkin at the end.


Tofu.  I know what you’re thinking… typical of someone who studies nutrition to recommend tofu.  But seriously, I bought it for the first time in ages last weekend and realized I need to start adding it to my regular rotation again.  It’s really good!  If prepared the right way. Make sure you buy the extra-firm variety, cut into cubes, and sautee in a nonstick pan with some olive oil until browned.  If you want to “spice it up” a bit, rub some honey and chili powder on before-hand.


Sabra Roasted Garlic Hummus.  My good friends know about my obsession with hummus, but I figured I would let you all know as well.  It’s just so versatile you guys! I love using it for sandwiches and as a dip the most, but the possibilities really are endless (someone say pita?).  One thing is for sure, I definitely snack on more vegetables when I have this stuff around. 

Goat Cheese w/Honey. Um… who knew this existed? Or have I been living under a rock because it is out of this world delicious!  I stumbled upon it at a Super Target when I was shopping for black nail polish (somehow I always wander over to the food section…) and nearly shrieked with excitement.  Suggestions for use: crumble on salads, top homemade pizza, stir in to scrambled eggs, mix into pasta sauce.  Done, done, done and done.

You could even use it to top a burger

But that’s just me…

Enjoy your new items and best of luck with the meal planning!

The Importance of Planning

September 30, 2011 1 comment

Hey there!

Long time no talk.  And for good reason, I promise. I started a part-time job (in addition to my Dietetic Internship) as a Personal Trainer at a local gym, so it has been a little challenging to get back into the habit of 14-hour days.  BUT… Have no fear, because I consider myself a master of planning which makes life during the week a whole lot easier. Need some guidance?

Tip #1: Make large dishes in the beginning of the week

I love Sundays! This week I made a homemade spaghetti sauce which was super easy and way lower in sodium than the jarred stuff.  I also made homemade granola bars and a quinoa dish to take to work for lunches.

Tip #2: Buy easy-to-grab food items

I know that it’s usually cheaper to buy things in bulk or bigger containers, but sometimes my need for convenience wins and I buy the individual serving sizes of my favorite items.  In certain situations I think paying a little bit extra is worth me not having to spend the extra prep time.  Think yogurts, peanut butter packets, and Larabars. Always search for sales and coupons!

Tip #3: Keep snacks at work

This is still new to me after starting a full-time position, but I really can’t stress just how important it is to keep healthy snacks on hand at work.  I get hungry at random times throughout the day and if I didn’t have something nutritious to grab, I would probably go for the sweets that constantly appear in the kitchen.  Set yourself up for success! I always have apples and nuts in a drawer.

Tip #4: Plan your week accordingly for splurges

For example, if you know you’ll be eating out or joining in on happy hour, pack a lighter and veggie-filled lunch that day.  Eat a substantial snack on your way out so you don’t attack the free chips or the appetizers.  

On the exercise front… I also wanted to put a plug in for my very favorite group exercise class–BODY PUMP!  I’m using a guest pass to try out some classes at a new gym and have been lucky enough to make it to Body Pump two times in the past week.  Let me tell you guys, if you haven’t tried it you should!  I get such a great strength training workout from this class and push myself so much further than I ever would on my own.  Don’t be intimidated because it is really fun too. 

Anyways, I’m planning a “5 Things you Should Add to Your Grocery List” post for Saturday so be sure to check back!  

TGIF [tomorrow]!


Two Dairy Alternatives and Why I Bought Them

September 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Hello Ice Cream


Has anyone ever tried this product before?  It’s very… different than I expected.  I am an ice cream lover at heart and when I started a week-long therapeutic diet for an internship project and needed to cut down on dairy, all sorts of milk alternatives started running through my brain. I picked up this SO Delicious product because I remember hearing good things about it in the past.

Take a look at the nutritionals:

Not bad if you keep in mind that the saturated fat comes from the coconut.  Also, you can’t really see it in the picture because ice is covering the number, but note the addition of fiber! Six grams to be exact, which comes in the form of chicory root.

My conclusion: I didn’t hate it, but I wouldn’t buy this again unless I had to restrict dairy.

Product #2

I drink quite a bit of cow’s milk.  I typically have a smoothie every day, I use it in oatmeal and cereal, and of course will have an occasional glass to round out a meal.  For this week, I decided to try this Almond Breeze because it fit into my “hypothetical meal plan guidelines”.

Here are the numbers:

Not stellar, but not terrible either.

Pros: Calcium, Vitamin A & D fortified.  And check out that Vitamin E stat!

Cons: Virtually no protein.  Beware of added sugars!  This one is unsweetened, but not all brands/types are the same.

Overall I think these products are nice substitutes if you don’t tolerate dairy products well.  However, do not forget that cow’s milk is a nutritional superstar! I also think the taste and texture are superior to anything else I have tried.

Any other opinions?

Elementary School Lunch: A Pleasant Surprise

September 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Well hello there!

I wanted to tell you about an internship experience I had last week because I was so impressed with a certain meal I had.  No, I’m not referring to a gourmet restaurant (from which the above picture was taken).  I’m talking about an elementary school lunch!

We went to a local elementary school with plans to eat with the kids, chat with the Nutrition Director and mingle with other staff.  I remember what my school lunch was like back in the day (mushy grapes, fried chicken patties, meals that were all one color) and was curious to see what we would be eating.

We went through the line as soon as we arrived and I was pleasantly surprised to see spaghetti with red sauce, broccoli, bread sticks, salad with ranch dressing, plums, apple sauce and milk.  Not too bad! As soon as I dug in, I will admit I was relieved because it tasted really good.  I wasn’t about to leave food on my plate in front of the RD who planned the menu, but I knew this wouldn’t be a problem.

Once we were about half-way through, the RD began telling us how they made healthier swaps in their mostly made-from-scratch menu (so impressive!).  Here’s what she said:

  • Whole grain spaghetti noodles
  • Homemade tomato sauce with the addition of pureed zucchini, carrots, onions
  • The sauce also includes a mix of 50% lean ground turkey, 50% beef for a great flavor and nutrition profile
  • Whole grain bread sticks
  • Spinach and romaine replaced iceberg in the salad, which is accompanied by a squeeze bottle of low-fat ranch (love this idea because it’s way less messy than the scoops and controls portion better)
  • Chocolate milk is offered, but only as skim and in a small carton
  • Fruit is offered as dessert!

I really appreciated how hard the school has worked to learn new recipes and cooking techniques.  When talking to the kids, they seemed to be responding really well to the new food!

Cheers to the weekend!