Summer Days, Drifting Away….

Apple in a tree

Tomorrow marks the first day of September and there’s only 5 more days left until the unofficial end of of summer. Where did the time go? Although I will miss swimming in our pool, I am truly looking forward to many things about the Fall:

  1. Pumpkin spice lattes and toffe mochas from Starbucks
  2. Big Ten Football
  3. Apple and pumpkin picking
  4. Donuts from the cider mill
  5. Crunchy leaves
  6. Listening to James Taylor’s Greatest Hits, Tori Amos, and Sarah McLachlan (their music reminds me of Fall for some reason)
  7. Watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”
  8. Cooler temperatures so we can finally turn off the AC!
  9. Thanksgiving – when I get to go home to Michigan and see my parents and family
  10. Fall running – you knew I couldn’t leave that out!

What are you looking forward to most about the Fall?

Time For My Beauty Sleep

(photo source)

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!

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.┬áResearchers 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 ­čÖé

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!

No, That's Not a Wild Animal On My Head

(Photo Source)

This morning I woke up extra early for my run to find it sprinkling outside. After about 30 minutes, it seemed to be clearing up so I laced up and headed outside. About 3 minutes into my run, it started to downpour. And in those 5 minutes (3 minutes out and 2 minutes back – since I was sprinting) I became a huge wet mess. I’m sure with my thick wavy hair, it must have looked like a complete mess!

I normally like running in the rain, but not in a downpour. It’s really hard to see with all of the rain in your face. So, I hopped on the treadmill for about a mile, then went back outside to test Mother Nature. Thankfully, it had completely stopped raining. I was completely soaked, but I managed to finish the last 4 miles of my 5 mile run. On my cool down, I walked by a woman from the neighborhood who walks every morning. She looked at my hair and just smiled – I’m assuming she understood my rain episode. No, that’s not a drowned animal on my head.

That’s me, muddy legs and all! I actually don’t look that muddy in the photo, but I had mud all over the front and back of my legs. I didn’t even realize I was that dirty until mud started dripping off of my legs on the floor. No rain in store until late Sunday night – yeah!

On another note, I realized about 1:30 PM that I had already consumed 1,200 calories for the day -OMG! I don’t count calories every day, but today I was making a mental calorie note and realized my huge intake. Between the Starbucks’ Frap, the potatoes and chocolate pastry from lunch – I nearly maxed out – ugh! I didn’t eat any thing else until I arrived home around 6:30. Ok, I may or may not have had a mini-Twix, but those are only like 45 calories ­čÖé

Everyone has a bad day when it comes to eating and calories. Today, was definitely a bad day. But really, how can any day be bad with a Starbucks in hand?

Lessons From A Starbucks Addicted VP

(Photo Source)

The other morning, when I was heading out of my usual Starbucks (yep, back on the wagon), I ran into one of our seasoned VP’s. She was so surprised to see me and almost seemed a little embarrassed. She asked, “Are you as addicted as I am?” We went on to exchange that we both were addicted and both wanted to cut down because of the calories and the cost. My drink, whether it’s a skinny vanilla latte or a mocha frap, usually costs around $4.

She explained that she knew how to work the system, and get what she wanted for less. Instead of her former skinny vanilla latte, she now gets a bold coffee, with a soy milk topper with a shot of sugar-free vanilla. She said it tastes nearly exactly like a vanilla latte with fewer calories. And how much does that cost – $2.50 for a Venti! She is sooo smart. Maybe that’s why she’s a VP.

What’s your creative way of getting your drink or food of choice for less?

Do we really need that morning cup of coffee?

cafe au lait

Caffeine is one of the most addictive substances in the world. I know that I’m addicted to it – and many of my fellow food and health/fitness bloggers are as well. We’ve all been there – late night, early morning, and the quest for coffee or any caffeinated beverage. And, just like our parents’ generation, we need our caffeine to wake up, to stay alert, or just to give us that boost of energy throughout the day.

Well, wouldn’t you know that this idea that caffeine makes us more alert or more awake is all in our heads! Yes, that’s right. New research shows that caffeine addicts actually develop a tolerance to caffeine, and therefore, don’t really experience its true stimulating effects. The caffeine merely brings an addict back to the baseline levels of alertness, which was originally decreased due to caffeine withdrawal. Now that’s scary!! No wonder we need more and more caffeine each day to feel its effects!

Here’s a thought, next time you need your coffee, try making it a decaf and see how you feel.

3 Reasons to Break Your Starbucks Habit

More than once on this blog I have mentioned my affection for tea. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a Starbucks addict, but am trying to quit by replacing my coffee with tea. So today, as I sat at my desk, dreaming of Starbucks but drinking my Tazo Awake tea, I reminded myself of all of the benefits of breaking my Starbucks habit.

3 Reasons to Break Your Starbucks Habit

1) Save money – On average, I visit Starbucks 3-4 times a week and spend about $4 each time. Do the math, that’s up to $16 a week or more than $800 a year. If I buy my Tazo from the store at about $3 a box, which could last 2-3 weeks – oh my, just think of all the money I could spend on new yoga clothes!

2) Calorie control – Unless I get a skinny latte, the calories in my go-to Frap equal about 250 calories a pop. Again, do the math, if a pound is equal to 3,500 calories, I may very likely be gaining 1 pound every couple of weeks, unless I cut down my calories in some other way. So essentially, I’m paying Starbucks $800 a year to put on 26 pounds.

3) Health benefits – Yes, I know coffee does have many health benefits, but the unbelievable amount of sugar that is included in my signature drink is definitely not healthy. Even if I get the “lite” Frap, it’s loaded with artificial sweetener, which is a whole other issue. Furthermore, by switching to tea, I may even gain more health benefits. Tea has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries. Tea has been known to contribute to:

  • Heart health
  • Cancer prevention
  • Skin protection
  • Alzheimer’s Disease prevention
  • Dental health

Spend less, cut calories, and improve my health – how many more reasons do I need??? Apparently, all of these reasons are not enough because I’ve attempted to break my Starbucks habit in the past and, obviously, it hasn’t worked.

For me, the big test is business travel. While traveling for business, I will often get 1-2 Starbucks a day as treat AND because I don’t have to pay for it! So, I’m leaving for Washington, DC, on Sunday where Starbucks are plentiful. Any suggestions on how to avoid the green mermaid?

If you’ve recently quit Starbucks (and lived to tell about it) what tricks/strategies did you use to help you through your ordeal?

Starbucks and Fitbloggin: Who's Ready?

Hello All and Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Although I have kissed the actual Blarney Stone in Ireland (said to give the kisser the gift of gab), I am far from being chatty tonight so I will let my cupcake friend say it all…

I’ve had a busy day at work and at home. At this point, I’m ready to crash on my bed right in the middle of all of my clothes for Fitbloggin that I still need to pack. Speaking of packing, I am sooo happy someone invented packing cubes – packing cubes are absolute genius! It must have been a woman who invented them, ‘cuz Lord knows that women appreciate anything that can make packing easier.

For anyone going to Fitbloggin, the closest Starbucks is .1 miles away from the Marriott. I predict that is going to be one busy Starbucks this weekend!

Ok, gotta run. See you on the flip side.

Random Grocery Trip

Hey All,

I just got back from a totally random trip to Fresh Market. When I say random, I mean the opposite of having a list and plan. You know what this means – danger, danger Will Robinson.

My trip ended with the following grocery items:

  • A French baguette – it was still warm and so soft!
  • A red plum – I have never had a plum before, that I know of anyway, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.
  • Two dates – I really have no idea why I bought these. I’ve never had a fresh date before. I’m not even sure how you eat them.
  • Four bakery cookies – This was really what I went to the store for…toffee and chocolate cookies!
  • A green pepper – I assumed we needed one for my pasta primavera dish I’m making tomorrow. I had pepper remorse for this one small pepper cost $1.65! Yikes – no more random pepper shopping.
  • Bonne Maman Raspberry Preserves – Thought it might go well with the French baguette. Besides, I’ve heard great things about this jam and wanted to try it.

So I went into the store intending to buy about $2 worth of cookies and came out with $12 worth of random items. Has this ever happened to anyone else?

Anyway, my day started with an awesome run outside – yes, outside! Can you believe it? It was nearly 50 degrees at 6:15 AM this morning – that’s pretty mild for March weather in Chi-town. After my run, I refueled with more Kashi and blueberries…

I also stopped at the ‘Buck to pick up a skinny ‘nilla latte – hmm..hmm. good. The great thing about lattes is that even when they get cold, you can warm them up in the microwave for 30 seconds and they taste all steamy and creamy again :-).

Lunch was a cup of minestrone soup from Go Roma with a small bread stick…

I love soup. I swear I could eat it every day. Maybe I should move to Belgium where eating soup every day is the social norm. A few hours after lunch, I snacked on a Luna sunrise bar then headed out the door to enjoy the last hour of sunshine in Chicago.

For dinner, I threw together a salad using leftover greens from our fajita dinner, plus added some parmesan baked chicken and shredded cheddar…

This was just filling enough to make a solid dinner – one that saved room for a chocolate toffee cookie – oh yeah!

Alright, enough randomness for one night. See you tomorrow!

Lovin' My New Lill Bag!

Hi there! As many of you know, a few weeks ago, I headed downtown with Anne to design my own bag at 1154 Lill. Well, three weeks later, my bag has finally arrived!

Introducing my new 1154 Lill Erika bag. It’s big enough to hold my Macbook Pro and a few odds and ends. The bag has a plum base color with a Queen Anne’s Lace accent stripe…

On the inside, I decided to show my wild side with an African cheetah print…

I love my Lill! After making this one, I so want to make another one…hmm, maybe for my birthday!

Alright, enough about my new chic bag…on with the day…it started with a 30-minute run on the t-mill followed by some fast walking and an ab workout. That makes 5 days of running straight – I think I’m ready for a break.

Breakfast was about 3 oz of Trader Joe’s vanilla Greek yogurt with some of my new Galaxy Granola

The folks at Galaxy sent me 3 bags of their awesome granola while I was on vacation. I was so excited to get it and practically tore into it on the spot. I really admire the Galaxy brand and its new Web site promoting granola made with Fruit Not Fat. Many of the granola brands out there are loaded with sugar, fat, and ingredients that I can’t even pronounce. That’s the main reason why I try to make my own because I can control my own ingredients. Galaxy Granola seems to have recognized the importance of making a product all-natural because they make their granola with naturally healthy ingredients like applesauce and honey, instead of corn syrup and oils. Now that’s my kind of granola!

The vanilla almond flavor also had whole almonds in it, which made my yogurt extra crunchy…

So yum and so filling – good thing I only used 1/2 a carton of the yogurt and 1/8 cup granola! On my way to work, I also picked up a skinny vanilla latte, since I missed out on my treat yesterday. Ahh, how I’ve missed my Starbucks.

Lunch ended up being some leftover risotto which was good, but just not filling enough. I snacked on a banana, some lemon tea, and a few “thank you” cookies…

I call them “thank you” cookies, because each cookie had the words “thank you” on them, but in different languages. As you can see, I ate 1/2 of the merci cookie before I took the picture ­čÖé

Dinner was a family favorite – Scott’s homemade pasta sauce with a big ‘ole side of broccoli…

OK, that’s enough for tonight. I’m off to repack my Lill for tomorrow!

Ciao!