Sunday, 16 February 2014

Finally.... a run outside!!!

I ran outside today for the first time in almost 4 weeks and it was awesome!  My neighbour convinced me to meet her for a 7k run at 7:30 in the morning.  My inner wimp was not happy with the proposed meeting.  First it was 7:30 am on a weekend.  Second it was 7k.  I hadn't ran more than 5k outside in months.  But my running buddy was over the top with enthusiasm.  I agreed with the clause that I would tell her to go ahead if I couldn't keep up.

I woke the next morning at 6 am, not wanting to be late for whatever reason.  It gave me lot's of time for coffee and to read the paper.  I bundled up.  I hate being cold and over dressed for my run.  Two minutes into the run I was tossing my vest onto someone's lawn to have to come back for later.  Rookie mistake.

As we headed no one was in sight and the sun had just risen.  There was a pink glow in the sky and the streets were silent.  The pavement was dry.  Just over a kilometre into our run, I felt like I was sprinting - "What is our pace?" I asked Imagining the answer to be 5:10.  Nope - the real answer was 5:45.  Are you kidding me??? 

I decided to settle in and just enjoy the run for what it was.  A social event, a time to be outside, my gift to myself.... and eventually the rhythm of the run began to flow.  In no time, we were getting closer and closer to my house.  Then I remembered that I had to get my vest - add an extra little bit. 

By the time we rounded to corner of our street the sun had fully risen, a majority of the neighbourhood was awake.  I bid farewell to my neighbour and bounded up the steps of my porch.  Feeling triumphant I had ran outside, done almost 7k and it wasn't 8:30am yet.  Greeting my husband about to say - "I had a great run!"  He looked at me and said "Ohhh your mascara has really ran."  I looked at myself in the mirror and staring back at me was someone who looked like a sad drunk girl who had just gotten home from the party the night before not the victorious champion that I felt like.  Thankfully my neighbour has probably seen me look worse and wasn't scared off.  We're going to head out tomorrow!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

W.I.A.W. & Super Awesome Cheesecake!

It's Wednesday again.  This week flew by.  It was my daughter's birthday this weekend which meant 3 parties.  A family birthday Friday evening to kick off the weekend.  A second friend birthday party complete with 8 screaming kids and a Minion cake made of pure sugar and food artificial flavour and colourings but super fun.  And a small family party at the request of my daughter. 

By the third straight day of birthday bliss I tried to offset my sugar high with a green smoothie and a lot of fruit in the morning.... in addition to an orange and coffee.

Lunch was the best work sandwich ever....
avocado, tomato and mozzarella toasted and melted on pumpernickel with cut up veggies.

As it was my daughter's birthday her favourite dinner was on the menu... stuffed shells.

She also requested her third cake in a row... I was torn.  I can't turn down an 8 years old's request for cake when she specifically asked for cheesecake (one of my favourites) or a Motherly concern for setting a record for the amount of sugar consumed by a child in a 3 day period.  So I set out to attempt to make an editable yet healthier cheesecake using Greek yogurt to increase the protein content, a nut crust in place of the graham cracker base and no refined sugar.  Challenge accepted. 

This cheesecake turned out really well.  A great texture, not as sweet as some but the flavours of cinnamon and blueberries really stood out.  And the best part.... my 8 year old loved it!
Low G.I. Cheesecake

by Denise Boyd Dunlop
Prep Time: 30 minutes plus 6 hours settin
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Keywords: dessert gluten-free low-carb cake

Ingredients (10-12 servings)
For the Crust
  • 3/4 hazelnuts
  • 1/4 flour (I used brown rice)
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
For the Filling
  • 1 package of cream cheese softened
  • 2 cups of Greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
For the Sauce
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. water
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. corn starch
  • Toasted almonds chopped

For the Crust
Toast the hazelnuts in a skillet over medium heat until they become fragrant. Wrap in a towel and rub until most of the skins are removed. Place in food processor and process until crumbly. Add flour and cinnamon. While the processor is running, slowly add the maple syrup and oil. Mixing until crumbly. Press into a pie plate spreading evenly along the sides and bottom. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 for 5-7 minutes or just starting to brown.

For Filling
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add yogurt, eggs, maple syrup and vanilla. Cream until smooth. Pour into crust.
Bake in preheated oven at 350 for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the middle of the cheesecake comes out almost clean.
Let sit until completely cooled and then chill for at least 5 hours.

For the Sauce
Place blueberries and 1/4 cup of water into a sauce pan. Heat until blueberries are beginning to soften. Meanwhile mix together 2 tbsp. of water with corn starch in a small bowl mixing until smooth. Whisk corn starch mixture into blueberries and water stirring constantly until sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in maple syrup.

Putting it all together
Cut cheesecake into pieces, pour sauce over top and sprinkle with almonds.
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Sunday, 9 February 2014

Marden Half Marathon - switch up

I had posted a couple weeks ago that I was committed to competing in the Marden Half marathon this April and I was - I had even signed up for it.  But...... things aren't going well with my training.  I have regularly run 10k and am in a good spot for the distance.  But all of my runs over the past two weeks have been on a treadmill.  The half course is rolling hills.  I need to do hill training.  The weather has made it not conducive for me to run outside or rather my brain is making the weather not conducive. 

The other big but that has contributed to things needing to be reconsidered for this race is a same day commitment for my daughter.  She is in a play that she has been working on since September.  When I signed up for the race, I thought her play was the week before.  It turns out I miss read the schedule and it is the same day of the race - duh.

Even though this race is really close to home, it would be way to rushed to run a half and then be back at the theatre for her.  So I'm dropping to the 10k race.  It will still be tough both with the timing involved in the day of the race and my training but I'm committed to completing this race.

In the meantime on Friday I could not bear the thought of doing another long run on the treadmill so I decided to do a plyo tabata set with weights that I teach to other people all the time but don`t actually do. 

Warm up:
30 seconds each
  • Jumping jacks
  • squats
  • reverse lunge
  • plank
  • push ups
  • knee to elbow in a plank
  • mountain climber
Repeat same set for 15 seconds each

Tabata set of box jumps for 4 minutes

One minute of:
  • squat with shoulder press
  • bent over row
  • lunge with a bicep curl
  • push ups
Tabata set of jump squat into a jump lunge for 4 minutes

Repeat weight portion

Tabata set of burpees

Repeat weight portion

Followed by a bit of ab work and stretching.

This was a killer workout and a welcome break from the treadmill.  I can`t wait to get outside and run.  I will bundle up this week and head out.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Winter Workouts and Recovery Food

Last week I was whining about the winter weather and how it was interfering with my ability to run outside.  This week nothing changed, in fact, we have gotten more snow with more predicted over the next week.  And with heavy snowfall comes the need to shovel and shovel and shovel.  Shovelling is not an easy task so I've decided to incorporate it into a workout.  Squatting and engaging my core and everything I preach about when I'm teaching a class. 
I have shovelled my driveway and a few others over the course of the weekend and have decided to treat the task as a workout.  It takes me at least 30 minutes to finish and like I said I need to engage my core and squat in order to get the snow lifted high enough.  So in addition to the core and leg workout, I am also lifting snow over my waist (or in my case over my head) to reach the top of the snow banks and voila - upper body.  Shovelling is a whole body workout.
After all of this effort out in the cold, a warm comforting snack is in order.... cookies still warm from the oven.  I didn't even try to make these healthy, just sit back with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and enjoy until the next 'snow event'.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

by Denise Boyd Dunlop
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 11 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert snack

Ingredients (24 cookies)
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 3/4 semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and add sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla until fluffy. Stir remaining ingredients until well mixed. Drop by rounded teaspoon onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.
Bake for 11 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to sit on tray for 2 minutes until removing to a cooling rack.
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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

In Dire Need of Motivation.....

I love motivational quotes; it is something I've inherited from my mother and grandmother. But as January wears on and I realize how much more winter there is... somedays getting up and getting going is tough. My running dynamic has changed and that is part of what life if all about. Nothing remains the same and it is through this process that we grow.

I love running and I love the challenge of pushing my body to new extremes that I didn't know I had in me. But when it is cold and don't want to run outside and the treadmill is my only option... motivation is hard. It was my intention to post my schedule for the Marden Half Marathon today but I haven't written it yet. Time ran short and excuses ran high.

Then I found myself not wanting even to run today. And the excuses were ever present... I'm tired, I have to teach two classes tonight, I was gone for work from 4:50am yesterday until 6:30pm, I feel a cold coming on.... all quite valid excuses, but it's building the base for my half marathon that counts. It is changing my mindset to dig deep today that will give me the confidence to run when it is hard during a race. So I am pledging that I WILL do my run tonight after work and I WILL finalize my running schedule. And for extra motivation for myself.. at timely quote from the finishing line of the Athens Marathon I ran a few years ago... sometimes we have to look back in order to give ourselves the kick in the butt we need.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

New Thing January

One of my resolutions this year is to try one new thing a month.  It doesn't have to be a huge 'thing' just something new to me. 

This month's new thing is my attempt to embrace winter.  Normally in winter I train outside.  But this year I have been a huge wimp.  I meet with a friend to run on Saturday mornings but the other runs I do are inside on the treadmill.  When it is easier and safer to run outside, I will be there.  Aside from running outside I usually hike or snowshoe, but the conservation areas I go to are still closed due to the downed trees from the ice storm. 

So.. this month's new thing.... downhill skiing.  I have never skied before today.  My husband snowboards and my daughter' have learned to ski with their school.  The three of them have been skiing for a couple of years together and I have joked about how it is more fun to hang out in the chalet or at the spa, but really I knew I was missing out on some fun.  At the same time I was feeling like a big scaredy cat. What it I fell and it hurt.  What if I couldn't do it.  What if I was really, REALLY bad at skiing.

I decided to swallow my pride and face my fear of failure and go for it.  I arranged for a lesson, the first available lesson of the day and headed to the ski hill with the most positive attitude I could muster.  This was going to be fun!  Fingers crossed.

My instructor was fantastic.  He was one of the most enthusiastic people I have met.  He taught me the basics on the Teddy Bear hill - snowplough or pizza, French fries for the kids.  After two runs down the kiddie hill, we moved onto Easy Rider.  I practised more snowplough and then moved onto parallel skiing.  After an hour I felt confident enough to go off and try more hills on my own.  The hardest part initially was figuring out how to get off the ski lift, but I got that down after falling a couple of times.

I joined my daughters and we moved onto some of the intermediate hills.  I fell a lot but it was ok, I was shown how to fall on my side.  The only really difficult thing I struggled with was how to get up without taking my ski off.  But I did ski the whole day and had a great time.  I was super impressed with how well my daughters skied.... and completely blown away with my husband's snowboarding abilities.

Skiing was far more fun than staying inside in the chalet.  It was great to be out in the sunshine and fresh air.  And it was really uplifting to try something new and figure out a new challenge.  But most importantly it was a great day with my daughters!

The rest of the afternoon will be spent finishing my book - as the other part of this year's resolution... on and maybe a few chocolate chip cookies!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

I love the start of a new year - although I know technically it is January 22nd.... it's not too late. The New Year brings so much promise of wonderful things that can be accomplished and achieved. It's easy for me to aim for the moon before I acknowledge the work that needs to accompany goals. I'm going to run a sub 4 hour marathon, travel to Europe, write a book....

All of those things have been goals of New Year's past and 1 out of 3 isn't too bad. The book may come someday and never say never about the marathon.

This year my goals are much simplier. This year I am going to focus on creating joy in my life. Yes it sounds like I have a bit of my previous evening's yoga bliss still going on. But I am going to aim for two things that will hopefully make me a little happier and find a bit more fun.

My first goal is to try something new every month. This doesn't have to be a remarkable earth shatterning achievement, although it wouldn't hurt if it was. It just has to be a new experience for me. Something a little scary that takes me out of my comfort zone but something that will give me a new perspective, experience and hopefully broaden my horizon. And no pressure to succeed at the 'new' experience, the idea is just to try something different. If all goes well this weekend, I will be posting my first new experience on Sunday... fingers crossed!

My second goal is to read a book for my own personal interest once a month. I am currently taking two courses, one for work and a nutrition course for my own interest. I have a ton a material to read which is great because I like learning, but I really miss chosing my own books and reading just for fun. My book for January is 'Gone Girl' by Gillian Flynn. I didn't know this book was being released as a movie when I picked it... I really just liked the title.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Welcome to 2014 and a Clean Slate

So 2013 came and went.  I did accomplish a lot of things.  I just didn't publish them here. 

A quick break down of what happened - I didn't compete in any races. I did do some travelling - New York, Ottawa & St. Augustine.  I got a new job with a lot of opportunities. 

I have kept up on my running and have found a renewed love of yoga.  I only completed on of my 2013 running challenges - to do the Wellington Warrior Challenge. 

Looking forward I have signed up for the Marden Half Marathon on April 12th.  And have committed myself to deepening my yoga practise by practicing daily and attending at least one class a week at the studio I teach at - Awareness Yoga

But most importantly I have committed to posting 2 days a week through a group on a website forum through Live Your Legend.  This website is devoted to motivating and inspiring people to do amazing things in their lives. I have followed this group for sometime now and used their goal setting workbood for the past three years. 

So focusing on the future I am pretty excited about the possibilities of 2014. My intention is to regularly post and let everyone know all of the cool things I have been up to and have in store for myself! Here's an example.... I am embracing the frigid temperatures but more importantly the beauty of winter by skating outside on my lunch.