Let’s Talk Nutrition – Blog Post #3

Katy over at her blog trikatykid reminded me I had a juicer as she was brave enough to juice for 9 days.  As with so many small appliances, I had forgotten about this long lost friend for some time.  So in the spirit of Spring, I brought it out again.  (I say “spirit” because as of this morning, we had a light dusting of snow)  While I have no intention of going on a juice fast for days on end,  I seriously love the benefits of fresh juice and I think it’s a great way to get in those essential vitamins and nutrients in one glass of goodness.  In a previous blog, I mentioned that eating healthy this winter has been less disciplined than I would like, so this is a great way to kick start a healthier eating plan for Spring, that will hopefully have a Domino effect throughout the season.

This past week, I went to my favourite organic shopping market, and loaded up on 3 kinds of apples, lemons, oranges, grapefruit, cucumber, celery, beets, wheatgrass, spinach, carrots, kale, parsley and ginger.  I don’t buy all organic, all the time, due to the expense, but for the purpose of kick starting healthy eating, I decided to treat myself.

Here’s a look at a handful of my purchased ingredients.

What I like about juicing is the fact that one can really pack in a ton of veggies and fruits in one small glass.  I could not imagine trying to eat all the fruits and veggies in one sitting. For example, just this morning, I crammed all this into one glass.

Quarter Lemon
1 medium orange
2 apples
Handful Kale
Handful Spinach
Handful Wheatgrass
3 carrots 


Juice

I don’t follow any recipes out there. I really just add what I like, and of course, some foods that are important get added as I know they have wonderful benefits for the body. Pictured above is what I made this morning.

The taste was definitely orangey, with a splash of lemon and extremely refreshing.

The other day, I made what I will refer to as a Lemon Zest :

1 Lemon
2 Apples
4 carrots
Handful of Wheatgrass
Handful of Kale

The taste was really lemony. If you aren’t a big fan of a really lemony drink, cut the lemon in half.

I’d like to emphasize, I try to put a mixture of veggies (especially green ones) in the drink as that is where a lot of nutrients lie, however, I don’t necessarily love the taste.  For instance, Kale, while I can tolerate it as I do try to mix some in my salads, I’m not a huge fan.  By juicing, I still get the kale, minus the flavour, as the flavour is cut or eliminated with the addition of apples, lemons, or other fruits and veggies.  Beet juice is another flavour I’m not particularly fond of, so I will cut the flavour with something like apples, and perhaps a bit of ginger.  No matter what you juice, you really just have to adjust the ingredients to your own taste buds.

If you happen to have a juicer, and it’s stuck way back in your cupboard, think about bringing it out.  Really, the only downside of juicing, is cleaning the machine.  But, hey, it’s a small price to pay for all the great benefits it can give.

Do you use a Juicer?  What are some of your favourite juicing potions?

Let’s Talk Nutrition – Blog Post #2

The human body is a fabulous machine. We need to fuel that machine. Think of it like an expensive car. If one owns an expensive car, one would think, they would take care of it.  I know, if I owned a Farrari sports car, I’d be ensuring it was maintained on schedule in order for it to look shiny and new.  I think for the most part, we tend to do the same with our appearance.  We like to look our best, so we buy ourselves some nice clothes, or perhaps get our hair cut or highlighted to enhance our own features.  Many of us might buy some makeup or go to a spa for a facial. Why?  We want to look and feel good about ourselves. Food is an essential part of looking good, that perhaps is overlooked far too often.  What we eat inside our body, shows on the outside of our body. Not just with weight, but also shows in the quality of our skin, nails and hair, not to mention our overall wellness and feel good on the inside, demeanor.  As with any sports car, if I had one, I would ensure I put in the best possible fuel it requires to run.  There’s no question I would not try to put diesel fuel in a car that requires a high premium grade of gasoline.  Would you?

So why do we put below grade, substandard, or chemically made food in our machine?

When I thought about what to write in this blog about what’s in our cupboards, I have to admit I was a little overwhelmed.  There’s simply too much to talk to.  I decided to talk a few key ingredients that we would find in our everyday food.  There are many, many more, so if you have one, or two, or even three to add, please feel free to add them in the comments.

Fake blueberries

Do you buy cereals, bagels, muffins or other foods that imply there are blueberries inside?  You see the box or the packaging, showing a mouth watering display of blueberries, you must think there are blueberries inside, right? Wrong!  In fact, many products that imply there are blueberries in the product, are chemically made out of  things like high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, sugar, and artificial flavours and artificial colours called red#40 and blue#2.  Watch out for wording on product like “Blueberry FLAVOURED”, which is just a way of saying, “This food sucks!”

blueberries

“Colour” is a common ingredient.  What are these artificial colours you ask?  Check out this listing of some of the most common food dyes used in many foods we buy.  Here’s a little baddie that my spouse picked up at the grocery store.  (I guess he didn’t read the last blog!)  A closer look at the ingredients and it just says “Colour” followed by a word called “tartrazine”.  Tartrazine is just a fancy chemical name for Yellow #5.

securedownload

Sugar

sugar

Ahh sugar!  Both natural and processed sugars of all kinds are found in our foods.  I find it difficult to differentiate between some of them as well as many products we buy don’t list the kinds of sugars they use.  From my understanding, more processed foods are using sugars processed from corn, aka high fructose corn syrup which are found in many canned goods, sodas, condiments, dairy and baked goods.  I even noticed it was put in a vodka fruit drink I had in my home.  It’s much cheaper for manufacturers to do this as the cost is less than the real thing.  This low cost sweetener seems to be on the hit list of many health experts. One documentary I saw, had one individual call it’s equivalency, “Cocaine” due to it’s industrial process. Aside from concerns such as obesity and heart disease which HFCS has been linked to, apparently it is extremely harsh on one’s liver. For more information, read about HFCS here

It’s difficult to get away from sugar, even regular sugar.  While the body metabolizes it better than industrial made sugars such as HFCS, the quantity in which we are consuming sugar nowadays, goes beyond what the health boards recommends.  I like yogurt as part of my breakfast each morning.  As I look down at my yogurt ingredients, I see this little 142g container has 15 grams of sugar.  From what I have read, depending on the size of the sugar granules, this is equivalent to 3-4 teaspoons of sugar.  The WHO recommends eating 6 teaspoons of sugar per day or 5% of total daily calorie intake.  If you are a soda drinker, this already puts you over the limit at 10 teaspoons of sugar.  This guideline does not apply or include the sugar found in whole foods, such as fruits.

Salt

Salt is found in all kinds of food.  Salt can cause high blood pressure, heart issues, and lead to stroke or heart attacks.  As well as it being a preservative, it also makes things taste good.  I myself have really cut back on the salt intake however, I am sure I am still over the recommended limit.  Last year there was an episode on CBC Marketplace about salt consumption which I found extremely interesting.  They took a small sample of people from three different groups, many of which were active adults and thought they ate well and had a low sodium intakes.  After the tests results were shown, many were over the recommended limit of 1500mg of salt per day.  If you can view the episode, you can see it here

Non Fat-No Fat products

I stay away from non fat/low fat products.  When I want the real thing, I just go for it.  A non fat version just leaves me unsatisfied as the flavour is not the same.  More importantly, besides that, while a product may say it has no fat, it can also be loaded with sugar (sugar has no fat), starches, and other bad things like aspartame, and other artificial sweeteners. In fact, they may have more calories than the regular product.  The world of non fat or no fat products in my opinion, also make people believe they are eating healthy and perhaps buy more low fat/non fat crap.  Less fat = healthy right?  What some may fail to realize, is that there are some good fats out there too.  i.e. olive oil, avocado, and nuts to name a few. The body needs these good fats too!

Aspartame

If you haven’t heard it year, aspartame has been linked to a number of health problems such as headaches.  For a very explanatory video click here  Look for alternatives like Stevia.  There seems to be no stopping companies from producing products with aspartame and other sweeteners in their products.  It’s a billion dollar industry.  At what cost do we really pay?

There are a lot of other things in our food, I wish there was more transparency on the product ingredients.  While a product may actually be safe, listing ingredients as “natural flavours” doesn’t really tell me what it truly is.  It could be Castoreum!  While not widely used (so I’ve read), it’s basically a juice secreted from a beaver’s butt.  Yum, yum in the tum, tum, right?  Ha!  With all these big corporate companies putting out products that offer substandard ingredients, we have to protect ourselves by doing even more research. It’s daunting, I know.  I suppose a rule of thumb is, if you are looking for a certain caliber of ingredients in your products and can’t find them listed, don’t buy and look for an alternative.

Health experts are right.  Stick to whole foods as much as possible.  Get in your fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, healthy grains and the like.  For most people, it’s not realistic to be good all the time, but if we try to be good most of the time, hey, that counts too.

Obviously, I’ve just pointed out a mere few things that perhaps we should keep our eyes out for…there’s more.  I know this.  Feel free to add in the comments.  I’d love to have a growing list we can all share.

 

 

 

Around The Bay Road Race

I’ll be posting soon on my theme of ‘Nutrition’ this upcoming week, but first I wanted to get out todays blog about Around The Bay Road Race.

Older than the Boston Marathon, ATB is the oldest road race in North America.  This year was the 120th anniversary.  I’ve run it twice before and like many, it always humbles me.  It’s a 30K race, so it’s not quite as long as a full marathon, but it has its share of challenges.  Hills. Many, many hills!

We drove to Hamilton yesterday morning, which is about an hour drive from Toronto to pick up our race kits.  The process is fairly easy as the expo is held at First Ontario Centre (formally known as Copp’s Coleseum).  We entered the expo and proceeded to the shirt and bib pick up area.  We were quickly done with that, and then spent some time browsing the many vendors.  We even saw Austin Powers!  How bout that!

ATB EXPO

ATB EXPO

As you can see from the picture above, the race ends in the stadium. This is a nice treat to be able to finish inside the stadium, and pick up our well deserved medal and take home treats.

This morning was the race. The picture below shows that it truly is Around The Bay.

ATB Road Race Map

ATB Road Race Map

We left our home in Toronto around 730am, and had a flawless drive to Hamilton. After parking, we made our pit stop at the stadium for one last call at the washrooms. Before long, we left the stadium to corral ourselves with the masses. When we had left, the temperature was about -1 degrees, and it was terrible cloudy. I was not feeling the love on this race day. Surprisingly, the run gods seemed to take pity on us, and as we were corralled, the sun came out and stayed for the rest of the day.

I had no plans for this race in terms of a PR. In fact, my goal was to just finish. It’s been a brutal winter and although my running has been on a treadmill, it’s no replacement for cement. I truly paid for it during this race.

I went out at an easy pace. The run was mediocre for me at best. Then, around the 17K mark it turned wonderfully craptastic. Oh yeah, truly craptastic. I started getting a nagging pull at the bottom are of my calf. I haven’t felt it since 2012 during a half marathon race. I got lucky in that particular race as it was near the end, and I was able to finish running, with small discomfort. Today though, I had another 13K to go, and the pain was broadening throughout my calf. I stopped several times to try to stretch it out, however, nothing seemed to work. I had to speed walk a lot, as the pain seemed to settle when I had less speed. Every time I ran, the cramping got worse and worse.

Then came the hills. The last 10K is all about the rolling hills. With a cramping calf with a mind of its own, I considered quitting, but I continued on. I’ve never bonked on a race course before, and I was determined to finish.

Here are some of the pictures I took in the last 10K.

securedownload (6)

securedownload (7)

securedownload (8)

This guy trained…

securedownload (3)

Along the run, is the resting place of my grandparents. As per tradition, this is where I also have my ATB anxiety attack. Next time I do this race, I will sure to bring a paper bag! Not as bad as last time, but still not fun.

securedownload (13)

securedownload (9)

securedownload (10)

securedownload (11)

securedownload (12)

Once everyone gets past the final set of hills, there is a cemetery that runners run by. True to tradition, the Grim Reaper is always waiting.

securedownload (4)

I made it past the Reaper, and had one last stretch of road to make it towards the stadium. What a welcome site. I entered in the stadium and finished.

securedownload (5)

It was a difficult race. I won’t lie. It’s always been my nemesis in terms of race events, but this year, was bad. Upon arriving home, I noticed a wonderful blood blister on my foot as well. Hee Haw! I use moleskin on a particular area on my foot that is prone to blisters. I’ve never had an issue since using the moleskin, but this year, low and behold, the moleskin was no match for the blister.

Onward and upwards, I always say. It’s the beginning of race season, so I can only do better from here.

 

 

Let’s talk Nutrition – Blog Post #1

The next series of blog posts will be devoted to health and nutrition.  I will preface this blog by saying, I am by no means a health and nutrition expert.  My views on this topic are mine alone, and if you are interested in any points I make on this topic, I urge you to do your own research, and make choices based on your own findings.  If in doubt, please consult a health expert or family doctor.  These posts, while I aim to be informative to you, are merely tidbits of information I have found throughout the years, and things I have found to be beneficial to my life.

Why this series of blog posts?

I recently reminded myself, that although I do try and eat healthy and stay fit, I can do more.  Have I slipped from time to time?  Of course, I have.  I am human.  For the most part, I try to eat in moderation and choose healthy whole foods, however during the last few months, I’ve seen a little more junk food stacking my shelves in my kitchen and I think I need a reboot.  Perhaps this particular winter has beaten me up a little more than I’d like to admit.  I’ve stayed indoors as I really don’t enjoy cold temperatures, and perched myself on my couch with my fuzzy kids, who seem content to lay atop my lap as I catch the next episode of The Walking Dead or Netflix flick.  I’ve got a partner in crime, which doesn’t help matters.  My spouse.  Oh, how he likes the sugar and salt.  Of course, it’s not his fault we’ve become this way as of late.  We’ve still managed to get on the treadmill and exercise.  But no more excuses on the food.

The truth of my weight journey can go back as early as childhood.  I was always the bigger kid in school.  Not necessarily fat, but I was taller than everyone, and just a little broader than everyone.  I was always aware of this fact, and perhaps it is why I was cognizant in my later years about watching my weight and choosing better foods.  I was active as a kid, so that helped a lot.  I loved my sports.  As I became a teenager, I most likely had a few extra pounds and that continued until my twenties but nothing too out of control.  During college, I thinned down, but not necessarily in a healthy way and by my later twenties, the pounds magically appeared.  Long weekends with friends, eating fried foods, and beer can pad one up in no time.  After a couple of years, I slimmed down again by trying a slew of different diets. From fasting, to Atkins, to South Beach, etc.  I dabbled in many of the popular ones.  Yes, I did lose weight, but as soon as I left the diet, the pounds would creep back on.  I soon realized, I couldn’t keep to a regimented diet.  For one, many of these diets didn’t make me feel better.  For instance, while the Atkins diet worked and I dropped the weight, I was tired all the time.  Secondly, having to prepare foods at a time in my life when I was going out and meeting friends, and enjoying a fun social life was impossible.  How many restaurants could cater to my needs? Pretty much none.  And trying to prepare foods in advance became an unorganized task, I did not enjoy.

I made a choice in my thirties, that I would stop having delusions that these popular diets would work for my life, longterm.  I stopped buying the ‘promises’ on foods that marketed themselves as ‘fat free’ or ‘sugar free’ or ‘low calorie’.  In a later blog post, I will tell you why.  I also started buying whole foods and stopped looking at pre packaged, ready made meals from the grocery freezer.  Finally, I started to become more aware from a nutritional standpoint what was in my food.  Oh, and lastly, I threw out my scale.  Yes, I did.  I started to measure my diet success on how I felt, rather than what I weighed.  In truth, if I was losing weight (which I did), it was easily noticeable from how I wore my clothes, and the healthier foods that I ate, made me feel better overall.

With the growing number of kids becoming obese at very young ages nowadays, it saddens me that so many young lives are starting out with poor nutritional upbringings. Some would classify as food being the new addiction and many kids are starting out disadvantaged with improper eating habits at such young ages; it will be difficult to battle the war against obesity as they grow into adults.  Of course, it’s a combination of poor family eating habits, driven by a busy lifestyle of moms and dads, who for the most part, I’m sure they are doing the best that they can to feed their kids properly.  I remember when my mom worked on a Saturday, and Dad was in charge of the meal.  We either had a TV dinner, Stouffer’s Chilli, or on the odd occasion, we were treated to a Happy Meal at McDonald’s.  Fast forward to 2014, and I can only assume there are more Saturdays in a week than one family would like.  Everyone is on the run.  Yes, life in 2014 is much faster now than it was back in 1978, and there is a whole new world in terms of fast food to choose from.

It’s not just kids.  It’s adults as well.  I don’t know if you notice, but do you see a lot of tired people when you are out and about?  I ride the subway every day, and I see people who look beat.  They are tired, sleepy, some look depressed.  While I realize people are working harder nowadays to support their families, most likely sitting much more at a desk than they should, are we all feeding ourselves with proper foods to give us the energy we need?  I definitely say no on this one.

It’s difficult to make good choices.  Even when we think we are making good ones, many of them are bad.  When I opt for soup at my work cafeteria, I really don’t know what all the ingredients are put into it.  Looks like a healthy meal for lunch but who knows how much sodium is loaded inside.  There is so much info out there from companies that tell us how great certain foods are and when we look at their advertising, we see so many happy, healthy faces, how can we not believe the hype?  More money is put into marketing a product, than likely the quality of ingredients in the product itself.  If we go to a grocery store, there are aisles and aisles of pre packaged foods to choose from.  Which one is really healthy?  There is some good products out there, so how do we decipher the good from the bad?

How do we protect ourselves and choose wisely?  In the next blog, I will highlight a few common things you may have in your cupboard, that perhaps you didn’t realize.

Please join me in this discussion about eating healthy.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and in turn share in this conversation.

NCAA and Waiting for Spring!

I’ve been caught up in the March Madness basketball tournament the last few days due to a pool at work.  What a ride.  After the first round, I was sitting at 9th amongst my pool members.  A few good games, and as of yesterday, I was sitting pretty by 5pm at 4th, and then 3rd within a couple of hours.  I was optimistic when I saw VCU play and start to take control of the second half against SFA.  Had they won, my place would have moved into 2nd.  Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, and even with winning the rest of the games yesterday night, I’m down to 9th at the end of day.  VCU cost me big time.  They game went into OT after a VCU player fouled SFA with seconds left on the clock.  Egads!  Well, I wasn’t terribly surprised as in the last few minutes I felt that VCU was ‘phoning it in’, and trying to run down the clock with their small lead.  Hello VCU?  Your confidence in a win, smacked you out of the tournament.  I guess that’s why they call it March Madness.  On the good news, I only have one team out, aka Duke from my picks moving forward.  It’s a hit as I had them moving forward to round 4 of my bracket.  :(

In other news, Urban Running Girl has marked down all shrugs for the $20 Spring Sale.  If you are wondering, “Why a shrug?” Yesterday, a customer posted an article about shrugs here.  Thanks Wendy Bumgardner!

Coincidently, Spring has apparently sprung, or at least it has been officially noted.  I’m not sure if Mother Nature has gotten the memo yet.  As of this morning, I see fresh snow outside my window.  Old Man Winter is like the house guest that just won’t leave or perhaps like the boyfriend you broke up with, that won’t stop calling.  Ok, old man, you’ve worn out your welcome.  It’s time you move on.  We’ve dealt with the ice storm, reading about this polar vortex, and numerous days in sub zero temperatures.  I’m ready to burn my winter boots and slip on some lighter, brighter and definitely more comfortable foot wear.  Oh, this is cool.  Have you seen this?  :)  Custom design New Balance shoes.

I hope where ever you live, the weather has improved with more spring like conditions.  For me?  I’ll stick to my treadmill.

Happy Running.

Getting Crafty with Running Bling

I decided to get crafty this past week and do something with my Walt Disney World running bling.  While I love what Fond Memories can do in terms of a professional shadow box, I decided to save a little dough this time around, and try my hand at creating my own shadow box.

Michaels was having a sale on shadow boxes this month, so I purchased two for the price of one.  Since Kari and I both have the Dopey and Tinker Bell race medals this year, I thought it would be a bit redundant to create two of the same shadow boxes; therefore, I’m just making one of each race weekend.  I downloaded our certificates from the Run Disney website, and I am using them within each box.

It took a while to get the ‘perfect fit’.  I must of tried 20 different layouts.  I’m one of those people who like equal sides, and figuring out a layout that wasn’t too heavy or busy on one side versus the other was making me crazy.  I finally found a layout I could live with.  It was a challenge with the Dopey medals as I underestimated the size of the shadow box vs the size of the medals.  As well, I had to fit in the certificates.  I first tried hanging the medals from the top of the box, however, soon realized, even staggering the medals in a hanging position within the box, would not work.  I then removed all the ribbons and proceeded to lay out the medals in some kind of order.  I felt that the Dopey and Goofy medals were the highlight of the six, so they are up against the black background.  The others I placed on top of the ribbons.  I would have liked to have fit them level across the box, however, the marathon and 5k medals are bigger than the others, so I had to stagger the middle two to be able to fit everything in.  HA!  Who ever complained about medals being too big?  (shadow box makers, that’s who!) Tons of two sided, heavy duty sticking tape was used under the medals and the ribbon.  Oh boy, let’s hope they stay!  :)

One down, another to go at a later date.  What do you think?  Have you attempted your own running medal shadow box? 

2014 Dopey Challenge Shadow Box

2014 Dopey Challenge Shadow Box

Would You Run Cedar Point?

As mentioned in yesterday’s blog, I am considering The Biggest Loser Half marathon race in Buffalo this year.  While the half marathons are in various cities as stand-alone race events, the race organizers have also teamed up with the Six Flags amusement parks to offer 5K and 10K races.  Seems like teaming up with a theme park is becoming a growing trend.

As I was cruising the internet yesterday, I came across the Cedar Point Half Marathon. This half marathon is being held on June 29th, 2014.

The entry fees are relatively affordable, and what’s great about it is all participants of the half marathon can enjoy the theme parks on Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday as part of the registration.  How cool is that?

Course Map – Half Marathon

Half Marathon Participants receive:

  • Scenic running route through the theme park
  • Finisher medal
  • Free entry to the park on Friday after 5pm, all day Saturday, and all day Sunday
  • BibChip timing and instant online results
  • Commemorative long-sleeve tech T-shirt
  • Reduced-rate parking

Unfortunately, Cedar Point is a little far for me to travel this year as it’s about a 7 hour trip by car but I’ll be keeping my eyes on this race event for the future.  It will be interesting to see how other non-Disney theme parks incorporate running events and to see if these events will grow with popularity.

What do you think about other non-Disney theme park events?