Freshman year all over again

Hi Everyone! I am blogging on a break from my class so I’ve got to be quick. This ACSM class for Certified Personal Trainers is making my head spin! I don’t know what I was thinking when I thought I could take the test within a few weeks of taking the class!

12.11 ACSM slide

Just check out this crazy slide! I haven’t taken a class in soo long – I swear I don’t even remember how to study. I feel like a Freshman in college again.

Before leaving for class this afternoon, I hopped on the treadmill for a brand new running routine! Yes, I think I’ve broken out of my rut – here’s what I did:

  • 5 Min walk at 4.0
  • 2 Min run at 7.0
  • 3 Min run at 7.4
  • 2 Min run at 7.6
  • 2 Min run at 7.8
  • 2 Min run at 7.0
  • 2 Min run at 7.4
  • 3 Min run at 7.6
  • 2 Min run at 7.8
  • 2 Min run at 7.0
  • 2 Min run at 7.6
  • 2 Min run at 7.4
  • 2 Min run at 7.8
  • 2 Min run at 7.0
  • 2 Min run at 7.6
  • 5 Min walk at 4.5

Total 30 min run and 10 min walk!

Wow, this workout kicked my butt! I was sweating so bad at the end too, and I only covered about 4.5 miles! Burned a ton of calories though – whew, thank goodness 😉

I’m about to head back to class after eating my yummy $3.50 salad…

12.11 Dinner Salad

See you all tomorrow night!

"The Office" Holiday Party

As I mentioned last night, today was my office holiday party. Each year there’s a different theme or piece of entertainment to go with the party – this year, it was literally The Office holiday party. Our whole office arrived at the steakhouse around 11:30 AM to find little bobblehead Joe dolls on the table…

Dwight Bobblehead

I was soo excited to find Dwight at my table! I know he is the antagonist of the show, but I think his character is hysterical! It turns out that one lucky person at our table would actually get to take that bobblehead home – it was my boss! However, since he has NEVER seen the office, I offered to take the doll off of his hands, but then so did several other people. Being the fair guy that he is, he offered to pick names for the winner. Unfortunately, I was NOT the winner (I’m still bitter – don’t ask) and my winning co-worker promptly traded Dwight for an Angela at the next table…

Bobblehead Angela

I seriously can’t believe she chose Angela over Dwight – Dwight epitomized the bobblehead! Bitter I tell ya, just bitter.

Anyway, before the main lunch was served were enjoyed a few appetizers and cocktails and then all settled down to our salads…

12.10 Green Salad 1

A fresh and leafy green salad, a perfect way to start the meal. For our entree, we could choose between a filet of salmon or beef or risotto. I do not eat beef or salmon, so I had the very tasty spinach and mushroom risotto…

12.10 Risotto 1

It was served on HUGE plate that dwarfed the rice, but there was actually more in the bowl that I thought. I ended up eating the whole thing (minus a few overwhelming mushrooms) and I was really full.

12.10 Risotto 2

12.10 Risotto Name

Just prior to dessert, they held a raffle, that included cool prizes like 1-2 night stays in downtown Chicago hotels, gift certificates to Borders, etc. No, I didn’t win – but one of my team members won 6 dozen bagels and gave everyone on the team a coupon for a free dozen bagels – it’s all about sharing the wealth baby! I’m still not crazy about bagels, but they are a little more tempting when they’re free.

Dessert was slightly disappointing. Seriously, there were 2 bite-size brownies, 2 small cookies, 2 tarts the size of a silver dollar, and a 2 oz ramekin of creme brulee – this was for 4 people! That’s not dessert, that’s a snack! My boss and I kept waiting for something else to come out – actually hoping for something to come out – but it didn’t.

12.10 Creme Brulee

I’m not a creme brulee fan normally, but I decided to try it today. It was good, but my boss and I were still contemplating a Dairy Queen run.

To Bonus or Not To Bonus

And now – the moment we were ALL waiting for – Bonus Time! We anxiously awaited to get our holiday cards – the vehicle for our bonuses. Although I was pleased to still get a bonus, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed because it was lower than last year. I shouldn’t complain though – most people do not get bonuses. Considering the economy, I think it’s very generous for my company to still keep this tradition.

It’s Personal…Training That Is!

Tomorrow afternoon, I start my very intense personal training class. At one point, I thought I could skim through books ahead of time, take the class, study for a couple weeks, then take the test. I have officially comes to terms with the fact that this plan is NOT going to happen. Of the two books I have to use as study materials, the one book is about 3 inches thick. OMG, I nearly passed out when I started reviewing the anatomy section! I’m giving myself a new goal of taking the test by the end of February/early March, but that’s even a crap shoot.

OK, gotta get some rest so that I am ready to go to my class. Take care everyone!

Finding My Life's Purpose in 7 Questions

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Hello Everyone – 

Last night, Scott sent me a link about how to find your purpose in life, by asking yourself a few simple questions. Both of us have actually been struggling with what we want to do in our careers – for me, it’s more about whether or not I want to go into business for myself (writing, editing, fitness advisor, etc). I thought it couldn’t hurt giving these questions a try. So, here it goes…

Westminster Abbey

7 Questions to Finding Your Life’s Purpose 

  1. What do you love to do? I love to travel and also plan trips for myself and other people. Discovering new places makes me so incredibly happy! But, figuring out a way to fund my travel adventures makes me very unhappy. I also love helping people live healthier lives – knowing that I made a difference in keeping them healthy is a big plus.
  2. What do you do in your free time? I do a LOT of research for my blogs, as well as vacation spots. But, I also try to sightsee locally (Chicago). Of course, running/exercising is also a huge part of my free time.
  3. What do you notice? I notice how fit people are and I especially notice if a person is a runner, or not. Don’t ask me how, you can just tell. I also notice people’s accents, whether they are from the South or England or Israel. I love hearing different accents and trying to guess where people are from (in my head, not outloud!)
  4. What do you love to learn about? I love learning about new ways to get and stay fit/healthy. Likewise, I love to learn about nutrition and overall wellness. Aside from those things, learning about travel destinations is something else that I love, although it makes me a little sad thinking that I may never get to those places.
  5. What sparks your creativity? Travel – plain and simple. Whether it’s an overnight business trip or a week-long vacation, going on any sort of trip somehow makes my life become clearer. After my trip, I usually feel empowered and more confident about the challenges ahead.
  6. What do people compliment you on? I often receive compliments on my dedication to health and fitness, particularly running, but also my strong public speaking/presentation and writing skills. These skills may or may not be apparent on my blogs, but writing is about 50 percent of what I do at work.
  7. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Take a year hiatus from my current job to become a travel or health/fitness writer/review – ie. a cross between Samantha Brown and Gabby Reece. But know that I could get my old job back at the same pay with no problem.

Travel Writer:

Where do I go from here? I’m not really sure, but these questions sure make you think. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again – I love my employer and what I do in my current career, but I KNOW deep down that I am meant to do something greater than this.

So, I charge you, fellow food and fitness bloggers, to step back for a moment, and ask yourself, what do YOU really love to do? Because, if you love writing for your blog more than you do your 9 to 5 job, it may be time to make a change.

Trimming the Tree

Hi Everyone! Hope you all had a lovely Sunday! Today was a day of all things holiday for us, including trimming the Christmas tree.

My day started with a 5 mile run on the treadmill. I was actually all dressed and ready to go outside when it started to downpour. I was really disappointed because today was supposed to be the warmest day of the week at 50 degrees. The rest of the week, the Chicago Tribune is reporting SNOW!! I shouldn’t be so surprised, after all, Tuesday is December 1!

Breakfast was a warm and sweet bowl of homemade oats – plain oatmeal topped with brown sugar and crunchy walnuts…

11.29 Oatmeal 1

11.29 Oatmeal 2

As you can see, I was playing with the macro setting and focus on my camera. Both of these photos turned out well, each with a slightly different look.

Seeing as today was the first day of Advent, Scott and I headed to 9:30 mass after breakfast. The service was very nice although the church wasn’t as decorated as I thought it would. I’m sure they’ll add more decorations later.

For lunch, we made our typical Sunday fare of sandwiches, but this time we made them with Boar’s Head salami, turkey, and ham – this was one classy and expensive sandwich!

11.29 Boarshead sandwich 2

11.29 Boarshead sandwich 1

Although we put up our tree last weekend, the rest of the day was spent decorating the outside of the house as well as decorating the tree. Last night, we bought a bunch of plain green wreaths from Hobby Lobby and some wide red ribbon. I stayed up until around midnight making bows and then attaching them to the wreaths…

11.29 Christmas Wreath

Not too bad for a first time! Next year, I think I’ll buy wider ribbon to make it stand out a little more when you’re looking at the house from the street.

Dinner was Scott’s homemade chicken soup with dumplings…

11.29 Chicken dumpling soup 2

Although he and I have made this soup MANY times, the dumplings are very tricky. You have to cook them just right or else they turn out very firm instead of soft and fluffy like they did today – nice job Scott!

11.29 Chicken dumpling soup

After dinner, we pulled out the rest of the Christmas decorations and tree ornaments and went to town! Since Scott and I have been married, we have been doing a sort of Victorian theme for our Christmas tree with lots of burgundy, gold, and pink ornaments. I have this dream that I will one day have a truly authentic Victorian (or Dickens-style) Christmas – complete with roast pig by the fireplace, cranberries strung on the tree, and hot mulled wassail brewing on the stove, all while listening to carolers at my door. I know, it’s a little over the top, but that’s why it’s a dream.

I must admit, I am partial to plain jane ornaments, like snowflakes and bulbs, yet two of my favorite ornaments are anything but plain…

11.29 Ornaments

Because I absolutely LOVE hot tea – and actually collect tea cups and teapots –  I couldn’t pass up these two little cuties! I bought them a few years back on a quick trip to Bronner’s Christmas store in Frankenmuth, MI. Seriously, if you think you can go into Bronner’s and NOT come out with something, you’re crazy! They have sooo much to choose from and you can find just about any themed ornaments or decorations there – although I would have loved to find a little Harney and Sons tea tin ornament to put on my tree 😉

OK bloggies – I’m off to study. I finally received my personal training prep books and I need to do some major reading in advance before my class starts in two weeks!

Catch ya all tomorrow!

The Five C's of Running

Hello Everyone! 

This morning, I did a couple miles on the old treadmill (which has NEVER had any clothes hanging on it – thank you very much!) then jumped off, threw on a running jacket, and headed outside for the remaining 2 1/2 miles. After my run, I did a few stretches and a 15-minute ab workout. I used to be a really hardcore runner, thinking that anything less than 6-7 miles was not worth my time. But after overtraining for a 1/2 marathon, I cut back quite bit and found that my body and I were much happier. This got me thinking…why have I been running for over 10 years and why do I keep running? The answers are simple  and can be explained in just five words – control, convenience, cost, calories, and challenge.

Running With Cake: The Five C’s of Running

  1. Control Factor: Running makes me feel strong and in control. If I can run for miles and miles, I feel like I can do anything.
  2. Convenience: You can do it anywhere/anytime. 
  3. Cost: For the most part, all you need are good running shoes and running clothes.
  4. Calories: Running is a HUGE calorie burning exercise – need I say more!
  5. Challenge: Distance running can be grueling at times, but it’s the utter satisfaction of finishing a race or achieving a personal record that makes it all worth it!

And the question is…Why do you run? If you don’t run, what is keeping you from starting?

By the way, overtraining is one of the most frequent mistakes made by runners. If you’re curious about the other common running mistakes, check out this Quiz from Women’s Health magazine which lists the top 11 running mistakes. I took the quiz, applying it to my current running style, and scored 100%. 

As for the rest of my day…Breakfast was a big bowl of Honeynut Cheerios with a handful of walnuts – gotta love that MUFA crunch!

11.24 Honeynut Cheerios

I only worked a 1/2 day today because I had a ton of errands to run before heading out tomorrow for our Thanksgiving feast! I am seriously amazed at how efficient I was between 1-5:30 PM. In just 4 1/2 hours, I managed to go to:

  • Go to Hobby Lobby
  • Do Laundry
  • Make 3 1/2 dozen chocolate chip cookies
  • Tidy up the house
  • Put away the Fall decorations
  • Go to Kohl’s
  • Go to Crate and Barrel

And somewhere in that marathon of errands, I managed to eat a bit of lunch…

11.24 Salami and Ham Sandwich

A salami, ham, and cheddar cheese sandwich – the RWC standard these days, particularly when I don’t feel like cooking.

Dinner was a tad more exciting – Italian sausage on our indoor grill. We invested in Italian sausage a few weeks back – I say invested because we bought it at Costco, where the food (and everything else)  comes in huge quantities, which causes you to invest a lot of time in eating it. To accompany the sausage, we had some very creamy Trader Joe’s shells and white cheddar cheese (aka. fancy mac & cheese) along with grilled bell peppers and onions.

11.24 Trader Joe's Macaroni and Cheese

Scott actually made the shells and cheese using the exact recipe on the box. I assured him that a standard box of mac & cheese is not difficult and that you don’t need to follow the recipe exactly. But, he’s a stickler for following recipes – most of the time 😉

11.24 Grilled Italian Sausage and Peppers

Hey, how did that Go Roma business card get in the picture?? I think it wanted its 15-minutes of fame – but don’t we all?

Thank you to all of you who voted for your favorite foodie magazine. As promised, the magazine with the most votes would become the new Running With Cake subscription. And the winner is…Cooking Light magazine! Fine Cooking also was mentioned by more than one person, but Cooking Light seem to be the food blogger favorite. I plan to subscribe in the next two weeks, so that I can avoid getting a duplicate of the December issue that I plan to purchase tomorrow 🙂

OK ladies and gents, I’m off to bed. I need to get bright and early to get in a run before we leave.

Enjoy your evening and your Wednesday!

RWC: A New Health and Fitness Challenge

Hi All! I have some very exciting news to report! First, let me give you a little background.

For years, I have played the part of the communications professional – I’ve been a journalist-health writer, a health-care public relations practitioner, and a public speaking instructor at a university. Although I’ve loved everything that I’ve done related to these positions, I’ve always felt like something was missing.

Women's Health Month:

Also during this time, and actually quite a bit before this time, I have been interested in health and fitness – not only for myself but for family, friends, and eventually my husband. However, in recent days, I’ve felt like I need to take this passion to the next level – make it official somehow. I’ve been contemplating switching careers, going back to school to earn a more health-care related degree. However, at this point in time, it’s just not practical for me.

So, I have decided to embark on a new journey, one that takes me on a path toward health and fitness but allows me to fit this new knowledge and training into my current lifestyle. Does anyone care to guess what I will be doing??

Woman on yoga ball

In just a few short weeks I will begin the training process to earn my Personal Training Certification. Although expensive and time-consuming (especially around the holidays) I am completely committed to this challenge. I admit, I’m both excited an a little nervous about the certification program – I mean, I haven’t taken a test in YEARS!

I am definitely not going to be quitting my day job. In fact, I really like what I do for the most part, I just feel like I need MORE in my life than what I do during the day. Blogging about health and fitness filled this void somewhat. But even then, the advice about health/fitness was more personal advice – what worked for me. By becoming certified, I will know truly that the advice I’m giving is coming from a sound and strong knowledge base.

I am very excited and relieved to be sharing this news with all of you. Telling all of you seems to make it more official, more real. I plan to chronicle the certification process on Running With Cake – all of the highs and lows of studying, testing, taking, and practicums, etc. I hope that you will stick by me through the whole process. Because, I will definitely need the fitness blogging community now more than ever!

And with that my fellow fitness and food bloggies, I will say good night!

All Shopped Out

Evening everyone! Don’t know about you but I had a wonderful day, eating, shopping, and eating some more!

Scott and I started our day with 45 minute power walk – it was a great way for us to catch up and unwind after a stressful week. We didn’t get back until about 10:30, so we just grabbed a quick breakfast and headed out the door…

9.26 breakfast

I had 1/2 a peanut butter sandwich made with MaraNatha all-natural creamy PB and Brownberry whole wheat bread. We had a ton of errands to run, so I just ate it in the car. 

First up was a trip to the eye doctor so I could pick up a comp pair of contacts. I’m on my last pair and they wouldn’t let me reorder unless I came in (and paid for) another eye exam, which will happen next week. Next was a stop at my hair salon to pick up some styling products, then it was off to lunch!

Keeping with our anniversary celebration, we dined at a very cool steakhouse called Wildfire. We’ve eaten there before and have always had great food and service – today was no exception!

9.26 lunch2

We started with a simple side salad – but really, this salad was not simple at all. It had mixed greens, carrots, tomatoes, cucs, eggs, and artichoke hearts, all with a red wine vinaigrette dressing – fantastic! I’m really glad we split the salad, otherwise, I might not have been able to eat my entree which was a HUGE turkey burger….

9.26 lunch4

This burger was crazy messy with white cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, and lettuce, and tomato. There was no way in the world I was going to be able to pick this baby up gracefully, so I cut it right in half. This burger was outstanding! I really would have eaten the WHOLE thing but I stopped at 1/2 because I didn’t want to stuff myself – having the super yummy fries didn’t help either 😉 

Stopping when I was content enabled me to enjoy one of my favorite desserts – banana cream pie!

9.26 lunch5

Can you believe this is only a 1/2 piece of pie? That’s all I wanted so that’s what they gave me. I absolutely adore banana creme pie but I rarely see it on menus these days. So, when I do see it, I jump at the chance to eat it. The pie was the perfect ending to a perfect meal in perfect company of course!

By this time, we were both ready to roll out of the restaurant (the pie really put me over the edge), so we headed out to do a little shopping. Today, we were in search of birthday presents for 3 different people which took us to Target, Toys R US, and the mall. Thank heavens too, because all of that walking really helped work off the food from lunch.

Nearly 7 hours later, we were finally hungry enough to actually eat more food. We opted to not go out to dinner – I’m not one for eating two big meals in a day. Instead, we warmed up some of our homemade pasta sauce…

9.26 dinner1

This really is one of our favorite meals to make. Even though we ate dinner at home, we tried to make it a little different by using our fine china that we received from our wedding. I think this is only the second time we used it in 8 years!

9.26 dinner3

The red pasta sauce was a great contrast to the white china with silver trim – very chic for a dinner at home! After our stomachs were full once more, we headed out to finish our shopping for the day. Then finally, we ended up at Barnes and Noble. I nearly always buy something at B&N when I go there, whether it’s a book, magazine, or a Starbucks drink. Well, tonight we didn’t buy anything! I think I was all shopped out by the time I got there and didn’t have the energy (or money) to buy anything else.

I have an early date with my running shoes tomorrow morning, so let me say goodnight to you all!

Who Has the Best Veggie Burger?

Afternoon everyone! I didn’t get to bed until after midnight! I was sucked into watching V for Vendetta – one of Scott’s favorite movies. I’ve never had an interest in seeing it, but I caught the last half of it last night and decided to watch the rest of it. Pretty dark movie, but still entertaining and thought-provoking.

Because of my late night, I chose not to set my alarm for yoga. I wanted to see if I would wake up naturally, and early enough to make it there on time. Well, I didn’t get out of bed until 7:30 AM, which was probably plenty of time to make it to 8 AM yoga if I rushed out the door. But I really didn’t feel like rushing to yoga.

Instead, I opted for a nice leisurely breakfast. I have been eating so much cereal lately that I just had to have something different today. I’m out of Greek yogurt, so homemade oatmeal it was!

9.19 breakfast2

And so yummy it was too! I used a 1/2 cup of raw oats, combined with 1 cup of skim milk, topped with 2 strawberries and a dollop of MaraNatha creamy peanut butter.

After breakfast, Scott and I took a long walk in a forest preserve – something we used to do quite a bit before our schedules got so crazy.

9.19 forest preserve

The whole trail loop is about 2 miles long and we ended up doing 1 1/2 loops for a total of 45 minutes. It was an absolutely gorgeous morning outside, just cool enough for a brisk walk. I’m really looking forward to walking this route when the leaves are in full color.

After our walk, we headed home to get ready for our lunch date. I was in the mood for a chicken sandwich and french fries (a girl can’t always eat healthy!), so we headed to Red Robin. That place can be dangerous because of the bottomless french fries, but I do like their sandwiches. Today, instead of my usual chicken, I ordered the Garden Burger with fresh tomatoes, lettuce, and pickles…

9.19 lunch2

And, of course, it came with french fries.

9.19 lunch3

I’m usually a turkey burger or chicken sandwich kind of a girl. But, I’m really starting to like veggie/garden burgers more and more. However, I really haven’t eaten that many to really know which brand is best. 

So, my question to you all is this – what would you say is the best brand of veggie/garden burger out there?

Ideally, I’d like something that is not overly processed, all-natural, etc. as well as easy to make with a delicious taste. I’d love to hear your thoughts!!

After our very filling lunch, we’re relaxing until we head out to a late summer party tonight. One of our girlfriends is moving to Brazil on October 1 and her family is throwing her a going-away party. As of now, she only plans to be gone for a year – but you never know! I’m looking forward to the party because I know there will be a ton of fun people there, as well as great food and maybe a bonfire!

Must get back to relaxing, so I’ll see you all tonight!

Time For A New Pair of Running Shoes…

Morning everyone! I had intended to run 8 miles this morning, but only ended up running 6 miles in a little over 50 minutes. I woke up later than I had planned and sometimes, the only way to get back on schedule is to shorten your workout a little. 

Prior to my run, I thought I’d break out my first ever CLIF bar. I’ve heard they are more for “guys” but because they were on sale for $1, I thought I’d give them a try.

9.13 Cliff bar

The chocolate chip peanut crunch bar has 260 calories. To me, that is quite a few calories for a power bar. I decided to only eat 1/3 of the bar, so about 85 calories, before my run. The CLIF bar was pretty tasty, although I’ve tasted better. I’m sure, because it’s more gear toward highly active men, that taste wasn’t their #1 priority. Overall, I’d say the bar is a little too much for me in calories, plus it’s huge compared to other bars. I would probably get sick mid-run if I ate the whole thing. 

My run went very smoothly for the most part. At the beginning, I felt a little sluggish, but once I got over that Sunday morning slump, I really felt great. Although, my calves and hips are a little sore. I’m thinking it’s time for a new pair of shoes! I can always tell when it’s about that time because parts of me that normally don’t ache, like my back and glutes, start to get sore. 

For breakfast, I thought I’d try the new Kashi cereal I bought yesterday. At just $2 a box on sale, I thought I’d try the Go Lean High Protein & High Fiber Cereal with 10 g of fiber and 13 g of protein. I think that’s the most fiber I’ve ever seen in a cereal!


Instead of eating a full cup/serving of this cereal (I didn’t want to shock my digestive track), I decided to go half and half with the high fiber version and the the Go Lean Crunch…

9.13 breakfast1

The cereal mixture was lightly sweetened and packed a great crunch. I also added handful of fresh raspberries – ‘cuz berries are so good for you! Along with the cereal, I also chugged my Daily Wellness shot from Zola.

9.13 breakfast2

We’re headed out to do a little shopping, then work around the house. I also think there is a homemade apple pie in store for tonight, so stay tuned for the yummy photos!

Kickin' It Up a Notch

Afternoon all! Hope your day started off great. My run was fantastic this morning. I had so much energy (despite only getting 6 hours of sleep – blah!) so I kicked it up a notch with some speed intervals. It feels sooo good to run FAST because I’m used to running at a moderate pace. I’m really hoping to increase my pace some over the next few months and actually enter a Fall race – maybe a Turkey Trot – gobble, gobble!

Since I was running late again this morning, I grabbed a quick, but high fiber and protein cereal mix…

8.31 breakfast2

I mixed 3/4 cup of Cheerios Multi-grain with about 1/2 cup of Kashi Go Lean Crunch, plus about 1/2 cup blueberries for extra fiber and antioxidants.

8.31 breakfast1

Breakfast kept me feeling satisfied for the entire morning. I wasn’t even tempted by the new birthday treats (coffeecakes, donuts, etc.) in the staff lounge – ha ha! I was really tired around 11 AM though and had to pop open a can of diet coke for a quick wake-me-up drink.

For lunch, I enjoyed more of my homemade split pea soup that I froze almost one month ago today. Wow, time flies when you’re eating good food. I only have one more bowl left out of this batch, so I guess it’s time to make more!

8.31 soup2

Today’s soup was still as tasty as the day I made it. It’s really filling too because of all of the fiber, so I’m hoping it carries me all the way to dinner.

OK, back to work for me. Have a great afternoon everyone and I’ll chat with you tonight.