Spinach Kick

Morning! I finally got some sleep last night – a whole 7 hours! Of course, after reading a few pages of Eat, Pray, Love the other night, I just had to read a few more pages last night – it’s getting so good! Despite getting a full night’s sleep, I woke up with a headache, as if I had been grinding my teeth all night. I’m sure some of you know what I mean. I also felt like I had a fever. Even Ms. M and Mr. C who were pretending to take care of me, said I felt hot. So, no running for me today, not even a walk. Hopefully, I’ll feel better for yoga tomorrow! It’s been two weeks since my last session – oddly, that sounds like I’m going to confession.

You may remember last month I was on a spinach kick, eating spinach at least twice a day. It seems that spinach kick is back! Really, there could be worse things than going on a spinach kick. I remember hating – loathing – spinach as a kid. I probably hated because it was always served in a creamed form with onions or something.

So last night, I made a HUGE spinach salad – soo good! It was made with baby spinach from the store, but then I added tomatoes, cucumbers, and green peppers – ALL from my garden! Woo hoo! I love that my garden is starting to actually produce – except for the spinach which has been eaten by rabbits.

Then this morning, I made a two-egg omelette with white cheddar, salsa, and spinach…

Tomorrow, we have two events to attend: a 75th anniversary party for our subdivision and a Renaissance Festival at our local library. Both things are so townie, but I’ve been living here for 9 years – I guess that makes me a townie.

Do you consider yourself a townie? What things do you do that are townie-ish?

Gotta run – Barnes and Noble Cafe is beaconing….

Time For My Beauty Sleep

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Hey all,

It’s been a rough day! I’ve been going on 3 hours of sleep due to Ms. M falling out of bed, then waking up every 45-minutes after that. I did end up running despite my lack of shuteye. However, I gave myself a break and only ran about 4.5 miles. This made me slightly more awake, but then I started to crash (not literally!) on the way to work. Nothing a little Starbucks couldn’t handle – although I hate relying on expensive, sugary coffee to keep me awake. Sleep deprivation can be fueled by caffeine, yet, ironically, caffeine is what we turn to when we are sleep deprived. That’s something to ponder when I’m not so tired.

I hit my ultimate low around 3 PM. I caught myself staring expressionless at the computer for what seemed like 15 minutes. Lucky no one saw me.

Anyway, I’d love to stay and chat all about the weekend, the Healthy Living Summit, the new book I’m reading, and more, but it is time for me to turn in.

Night all!

So Many Books, So Little Time

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book just for fun and even longer since I’ve read a book cover to cover. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading books, but rather I read them in shifts – a few pages in one book one night, then a few pages in another book the next. I have so many partially read books, it’s crazy! And the craziest thing of all is that our house has a small library in it – no joke! Because I used to work for a company that promoted books, I have a ton of self-help books, although they are becoming quite dated. And, since I’ve been blogging, I receive at least one book a month in the mail to review. Most of the time, not all the time, I’m able to read through the book – not cover to cover but more than skimming – to write a decent review. However, I still don’t consider reading these books as leisure reading – most of the time, it’s work.

A few months ago, I noticed a new book in my office’s lunchroom library (where people bring books they don’t want) – Eat, Pray, Love. Of course I know this book has been out for years and will soon be coming out as a movie. My brother and sister-in-law actually gave me the hardcover book when it first came out. I really wanted to read it, but at the time, I had absolutely no time to read. I ended up taking the book back to the store. Even now, I have very little time to read. But when I saw the book in the lunchroom, I felt it was fate telling me that it was time to take a step back and make time to read it.

I brought the book home and it has literally been sitting on my bookshelf in my room for MONTHS. Aside from having no extra time to read, I’m a little nervous about reading the book. I know the premise of the book – it’s hard not to when it’s been out for so long and now it’s been turned into a movie. I’m nervous that it will reflect a lot of what is happening in my own life – fed up with my job, wanting to travel and see things, and wanting more out of life.

I’m convinced that if I read this book, it will make me either a) very depressed or b) want to quit my job and move to Europe with Scott and the kids 🙂

Well, it’s time to see how this story will begin and where it will lead.

I’m off to read….

Have Runner's Knee? Move Your Hips!

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Most runners will experience knee pain at some point. Whether it’s new shoes, too much pounding the pavement, or a pronating stride, knee pain is a little bother that sneaks up on runners and can turn into a big problem over time. But I have good news to share!

A new study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine shows that knee pain may reduced by strengthening the hips. In the pilot study, Indiana University researchers tested 9 female runners who had knee pain scored at 7, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the worst. For 6 weeks, the female runners took part in hip strengthening exercises, including single leg squats and exercises using resistance tubes. By the end of the 6 weeks, all runners reported knee pain at 2 or lower. Researchers believe that increased hip strength may help align your body while your running, which helps take strain off the knee and decrease the residual pain.

This study may be too small and too preliminary to really be significant, but it gives hope to runners everywhere. So if you’re a runner or any endurance athlete who is experiencing pain behind the kneecap, try adding a few squats and other hip strengthening exercises to your routine. It’s worth a shot!

Can you run and drink coffee at the same time?

Today was – in one word – disappointing. For the last 6 months (more like 4 years) I’ve been working my tail off to gain more responsibility and more seniority at work. Well, today, I officially received a ton more responsibility, but zero seniority. I’d love to wallow right now in a huge bowl of self-pity, but I have so much work to do that I can’t.

Ok, let’s move on….to coffee!

I did read some good news today – that coffee can enhance your workout. Woo hoo – whoever said running and java do not mix was just plain crazy! Drinking a moderate amount of caffeine can help fend off muscle fatigue and keep you focused an energized without making you jittery. Researchers from the University of Auckland in New Zealand recommend drinking 0.5 to 1.4 milligrams per pound of body weight to receive a clear benefit without all the jitters. For a 130 lb woman, this would be about an 8 oz cup of coffee – just enough! BTW – I think that’s a “short” in Starbuck’s terms!

Garden update: So far, I’ve harvested 3 cucumbers, 3 tomatoes, a handful of snap peas, basil, and a boat load of jalapenos. Seriously, jalapenos must be the easiest things to grow – they’re like weeds!! Please send recipes that include jalapenos or I will be forced to take them to work and tell everyone they are abnormally small green peppers. Just kidding of course – kind of 🙂

Like many of you, I’m attending the Healthy Living Summit in a few weeks. To say I’m excited is an understatement! I’d love to arrange a Saturday night dinner – so if you’re attending HLS and are interested, let me know!

I’m outta here – night all!

Gotta Get To The Sea

Last night, Scott and I went with another couple to see Jack Johnson. The concert was awesome  – yeah, like you couldn’t tell from my Tweets! He played at least 25 songs including an surprising rendition of Steve Miller’s The Joker – very cool! He also played several songs from his new CD – To The Sea. Again – awesome! Obviously, the photo above was taken at the concert. JJ looks so big on screen, but we were really waaaay back on the lawn. Jack looked like a green spec most of the time. I didn’t mind that much though as long as I could hear him sing. What I did mind was all of the smoking – tobacco and other things. I probably had a pretty good contact buzz going considering I was engulfed in a fog for pretty much the whole concert. But there was really no way of getting away from it. The worst thing was that there were little kids there – from babies to 12-year olds. So glad I decided to leave Mr. C and Ms. M home, although Mr. C would have loved the concert. He likes JJ just like his mom!

What impresses me about Jack, aside from his awesome songwriting and voice, is that he can put on a great concert without a lot of fanfare – it’s just Jack and his music and that’s all I need.

After returning home at 1 AM, I was not about to get up super early to run. I ended up getting out the door around 9 AM this morning. It was a gorgeous morning – about 65 degrees and sunny! I ended up doing 6.5 miles with 8 min 20 second miles. Not bad for getting about 6 hours of sleep! Could have been the leftover contact buzz 🙂

As you can see, I was sporting my brand new Lucy running skirt! I was a little apprehensive about wearing a running skirt at first. When I first looked at it, it looked VERY short. But then when I held it up to my regular running shorts, it was the same length! Oh, how our minds can play tricks on us. I’m going to give a full review of the skirt on Bookieboo.com on Wednesday. However, I will say that this skirt is a keeper. I felt comfortable and very chic at the same time -always a plus when I’m running!

After the run, we had more guests over for swimming and bbq-ing for lunch. Then, it was on to Ravinia, and outdoor lawn concert with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. We were treated to a fantastic all-French night of music, including Ravel’s Boléro – amazing!!! If you think you don’t know this piece of work, listen to it on YouTube. Most people will recognize it immediately. It’s sounds a tad like Memories from Cats, although I’m sure Ravel wouldn’t appreciate that comparison.

Off to bed now, have a great night all.

My Boy Jack

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I am going to see one of my favorite artists perform in concert tonight – Jack Johnson!  I was first introduced to his music in 1995 through a very good friend who I met while working at Disney World. Now, many years and many songs later, my husband and my kids now love JJ, almost as much as I do. JJ, or at least his music, actually reminds me of a young Van Morrison and/or James Taylor. And of course, JT is a fave of mine as well.

Tonight, Scott and I are going with another couple to see JJ for the first time. We’re hoping the rain holds out. But rain or shine, I will not be kept from seeing Jack live!

Watch for pics from me on Twitter @RunWithCake!

Toning Shoes: Too Good To Be True?

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About a month ago, I received the New Balance rock&tone shoes in the mail. They are part of the new era of “toning” shoes with heavily padded, rounded soles. The shoes were a freebie from the Fitbloggin conference back in March. I did end up wearing them 2-3 times – out for walks and around the house. Each time I wore them I felt sore a few hours to a day later. I just assumed this meant they were working. Well, that may not be the case.

Makers of toning shoes claim that the shoes burn extra calories, tone muscle, and/or reduce joint pain – and they have the research to back it up, so they say. However, when a research team from the University of Wisconsin delved deeper into the claims, they found that much of the “evidence” is based on research that was not peer-reviewed. This means the studies have not been opened up to scrutiny by other researchers in a similar field. Any research worth it’s own salt will make it through the peer-review process, and most of the studies that do end up in scholarly research publications. Those that don’t make it through the review process, either because they were rejected or because they were never submitted in the first place, can still be published independently, usually for marketing purposes.

With the huge craze in toning shoes, the American Council on Exercise commissioned their own study to see how the claims would hold up. In the study, UW researchers had 12 physically active women perform 12, 5 minute exercises on a treadmill. The women wore a number of training shoes and regular running shoes and were monitored for oxygen consumption, calories burned, heart rate, and rate of perceived exertion. In a separate group of women, researchers also monitored six of their muscles: calves, quads, hamstrings, buttocks, back, and abs, while they performed the same treadmill exercises using the same types of shoes as the first group.

And the result? Researchers found no difference between the toning shoes and regular running shoes. In other words, the toning shoes don’t do anything differently than your normal running shoes. But why did I feel sore after I wore them every time? Researchers believe that many people feel this soreness after wearing toning shoes because the unstable shoe forces us to use muscles we don’t normally use to balance. However, they also say that with any new abnormal shoe, you will feel this same soreness, but this doesn’t translate into toning. The soreness will go away once your legs/body become use to the shoe.

What do I think?

Obviously, the study did not include the New Balance shoe specifically, but this research still makes me skeptical about the worth of toning shoes. When you really think about it, if a person is sedentary – doing very little day-to-day exercise –  but then starts and maintains a walking routine with toning shoes, they are bound to see toning results and lose weight. This is misleading because these health results are probably NOT because of the shoe, but for the simple reason that they are now exercising. I’m guessing physically active adults won’t see enhanced results just because of the shoes.

Overall, toning shoes sound like another “quick fix” way to lose weight and add tone, that may leave many users disappointed. But, if believing in the power of toning shoes is the only way to make you exercise, then believe away. If it gets you off the couch and moving, that’s always a good thing.

Stress and the Carb Fix

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Stress – I said it before and I’ll say it again…stress makes me throw all of my good eating habits out the window. Work has been stressful lately – I have a zillion projects that need to be completed in the next 3-4 months. And, as of now, I have very few staff resources to help me.

Not fun. As a result of the stress – particularly today’s stress – I tend to eat bad. For example, take a look at what I ate today:

  • 1 peach and a few bites of my daughter’s Trader Joe’s waffle
  • 1 Starbucks Mocha Frap
  • 1 1/2 cups pasta with about 1/4 cup sauce
  • 1 bag of vending machine pretzels
  • 2 small cookies and 2 mini snickers
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 peanut butter sandwich
  • A load of BBQ potato chips

I am probably under my suggested calorie intake for the day, but still – it was a total carb-loading day. And, I had a total of 2 fruits/veggies – ugh! It doesn’t help that my husband is working a ton this week so I’m playing mostly single mom – taking Mr. C and Ms. M back and forth to daycare and t-ball.

I shouldn’t complain though. I still have my health…sniff. Plus, we’re headed to see Jack Johnson this weekend – can’t wait!!! I have wanted to see JJ for YEARS! I’ve said on more than one occasion that I want to see JJ and Jimmy Buffet before I die. After Saturday – I’ll have just one more on my bucket list of concerts to attend! Hmmm…maybe the mellow sounds of Jack Johnson will help me relax a little. I’ll keep you posted 🙂

FroYo and Shakespeare

Yesterday morning started with a fantastic 6 1/2 mile run – about 8 min 20 sec miles. Then, it was on to another patriotic breakfast of Kashi with red raspberries, blueberries, and milk – holy fiber batman!

After the late breakfast, Scott and I took the kids in the pool until it was time for lunch. We needed to make it a quick lunch, in order to pack the car for a mid-day excursion to the mall and then onto Shakespeare in the Park.

Before heading to see the Bard, we stopped at my favorite local tart froyo place – Red Mango! I have been craving a tart frozen yogurt since May when I was in DC for a week. Tart yogurt, oh how I miss thee – sigh…

I had an original flavor – plain, with no toppings. Well, sort of. I planned ahead and brought two of my favorite toppings (from home) in a baggie – walnuts and dark chocolate chips. The California Walnut Board was not kidding when they suggested that walnuts are great for the summer – especially on my summer froyo! My husband said I was being cheap by bringing my own toppings – I think I’m being frugal. I saved $1 and it was sooo worth it!

Once we had our fill of shopping with the kids or rather, I had had my fill of Anthropologie (I just can’t seem to find anything these days) – we headed over to Scott’s parents’ house to pick up my father-in-law. We all headed to Shakespeare in the Park where we saw a fantastic rendition of As You Like It. It had most of the same verse/prose from the original play, but it had modern music throughout (ie. Jason Mraz, I’m Yours.) Very creative! The kids liked it too – Mr. C was captivated by the actors and Miss M kept telling me who all of the “bad guys” were.

Fast forward to this morning – I’m taking a personal day to stay home with the kids while Scott teaches a class. We’re taking the car in for an oil change – how exciting. Well, it’s better than sitting in my cubicle!