It's Post Time! A Day at the Races

For the last 3-4 years, Scott and I head to the horse track with his family the day before father’s day. I used to think horse tracks were seedy places, where only bookies, gambling addicts, and the mafia hung out. And, I’m sure it was that way back in the day. But in Chicago, Arlington Park is a beautiful horse track filled with people of all kinds. Really, you can find fancy ladies (and not just in the box seats) with even fancier hats, families with kids in tow, and couples just wanting an afternoon of sun and fun.

So, after my regular Saturday yoga class – which just kicked my rear end – we headed off to the races. It was a nearly perfect day for horse racing. Although a tad windy – nearly lost my brand new hat several times – it was about 80-85 degrees and sunny. Because we go the day before father’s day, it’s never too crowded, which makes it much easier to find a seat, place a bet, and get a little food. Personally, I don’t go there for the betting – I’ve never made a bet yet. But I love seeing how happy the kids are when they see the horses. As you can see from the photo above, Miss. M was having a great time with her daddy!

I was having an incredibly good time taking all sorts of photos in my snazzy new Ascot-esque hat! And yes, that is a new Lucy tank. Lucy has such awesome running and yoga wear, and many of their pieces can be worn as everyday wear which I totally love!

Now, I have to get to bed. After a day of running, cleaning, and gardening, I’m beat!

New iPhone – Need Help Choosing Apps!

I just ordered the new iPhone last night! Well, technically, Scott ordered it for me. He’s had one for over a year and never leaves home without it – seriously. I used to make fun of him (well, I still do) because he’s always on the iPhone. But, I am very happy to say that I have jumped on the iPhone bandwagon. I’m so geeked about it for many reasons, one being that I will officially be a part of the elite iPhone club at my work. All the VP’s have them, so of course, I want one too!

Now comes the hard part…figuring out what apps to get. Ahh, decisions, decisions. This is where I need your help! I would love to get your input on your top 2 or 3 favorite iPhone apps for:

  • Running and yoga
  • Health and fitness
  • Nutrition and food
  • Fashion and Beauty
  • Music
  • Travel

I’d prefer them to be free, but I’m not opposed to paying a few dollars here and there. Please, please, PLEASE, help me! There are so many iPhone apps out there and I don’t know how to break through clutter.

Thanks, in advance, for your suggestions!

Tea Forte for Breakfast

Morning everyone! I missed yoga this morning. I literally walked in the door 5 minutes before class and the guy at the front desk told me they were full – blah! Come on people, it’s a Wednesday! Oh well, I’m on vacation. Relax and breathe.

Lack of yoga allowed me to get a jump on the home cleaning I need to do today. But first…breakfast! I had an awesome almond croissant that I picked up from fresh market last night – super light and fluffy. I also tried a new bagged tea – Tea Forte’s Forte Breakfast – good but not as good as Tazo Awake – but is anything? And, just because they filled with fiber and they taste good – I had a full cup of fresh blackberries – holy 8g of fiber!

I’m off to do more cleaning then trimming the trees and bushes.

Lumberjack Jen

Call Me Popeye

Hello all! Hope you all enjoyed your long weekend. My weekend has been extra looooong – I was on vacation today and I’m taking another day off tomorrow! Because today was the better of the two days (83 and sunny as opposed to tomorrow 75 and rainy), I spent a great deal of time outdoors. My day started with 5-mile run – of course – followed by cleaning up the house then heading out the door.

I ran several errands – all before 12 PM – including trips to Costco and the grocery store. I really do NOT like running “errands” on vacation, but sometimes you just have to suck it up.

Inspired by Fruit Not Fat, I came home from the store with loads of fresh fruit. Seriously, I think people were looking at me because of all of the fruit in my basket:

  • Bananas
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Watermelon
  • Blackberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries

The blackberries looked fantastic. I wasted no time washing off a handful and making them disappear. Not the most glamorous way to eat, but hey, it was at least 6 g of fiber plus a ton of antioxidants.

For lunch, I made a huge spinach salad – I easily had 4 cups of spinach, as well as 1 hard boiled egg, 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes, and a few cucumbers. When I totaled all of the fiber it came out to 17 g! As you can tell from the blackberries and spinach, I’m still on “fiber watch 2010” so I’ve been trying to incorporate as much fiber as I can at each meal. Although I can usually knock off around 10-15 g of fiber at breakfast (love you Kashi!), lunch and dinner are a little harder to fill with fiber. After reading The Full Plate Diet, I learned that spinach is fairly high in fiber for a vegetable – 4g per cup. And anyone who has made spinach knows that 1 cup of the greens does not go very far. More than likely, you’ll eat 2-4 cups at a serving – especially if it’s in a salad. Now I’m addicted to spinach salads!! I think I’ve eaten 5 in the last week – no joke – but I try to make a “different” salad each time. Spinach salads are very versatile – you can either add the normal veggies, or you can spice it up with raspberries, walnuts, various cheeses, etc. I also change up the dressing – sometimes it’s balsamic vinegar with olive oil, other times it red wine vinegar, olive oil, and dijon mustard – all home made of course!

The rest of the day was spent in the garden and the yard. I would love to go on a rant about how much I detest those spinner things that fall from the trees (which now have made a thousand little trees all over my vegetable garden), but I won’t.

OK, must get to bed. I’m off to yoga at 9 AM followed by a ton of “spring cleaning” – fun, fun, fun – can you believe I’m on vacation?

Tree Pose For Balance And Relaxation

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

Stress. Worry. Anxiety. Uncertainty. We all feel these emotions at some point in our lives -and for some of us, we feel them on a weekly or daily basis. Among other things, these emotions can leave us feeling mentally and physically unbalanced.

If you’re feeling a little off-center these days, due to family, work, or anything else, try taking a moment to center yourself – to find your balance. A good way to do this is with yoga, specifically, the tree pose.

For those of you who already practice yoga, what I am about to say will be like preaching to the choir. Tree pose is a balancing pose that requires you to focus and relax at the same time. Tree pose helps you work on your balance, but it also can help you clear your head and steady your body and soul. There are many postures in yoga that I have not yet perfected – down dog, warrior three – the list goes on and on. But tree pose is one that I do quite well. And, when I focus, clearly concentrating on perfecting my tree, I can think of nothing else. Instant relaxation, albeit temporary.

If you’ve never practiced yoga or just need a refresher on how to maneuver the tree pose, Yoga Journal has an easy, step-by-step guide on the tree pose, and many other yoga poses, most of which include photos.

So when stress leaves you feeling a bit lost, find your tree – and yourself – again.

A Weekend of Y & R

Hey everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend. While many people use their weekends to grab a little R&R (rest and relaxation), my weekends seem to be filled with Y&R:

  • Y = YOGA

Saturday morning, I made it to yoga 30 minutes before start time to find that there were still spots left – yes! Last week, I arrived 15 minutes prior to class and was out of luck. Because I arrived so early, I claimed my yoga spot in the studio, then jumped on a treadmill for 15-minutes of interval walking. Then, it was time for class…

(photo courtesy of Flickr)

Y is for YOGA

The yoga instructor on Saturday mornings is amazing. She’s just the right mix of cheerful, helpful, and very knowledgeable. Even though it is a basic yoga class, she definitely makes you work. Lots of hip openers, three-legged dogs, sun salutations, and even a shoulder stand! This week, the class was especially warm – almost like we were doing Bikram instead of Hatha!

Whenever I go to yoga, not only to I come home refreshed and very bendy, but I also feel the need to shop for more yoga clothes. That can be very dangerous for your budget, especially when Lucy is just a 5-minute drive away – he he!

R is for RUNNING

Fast-forward to Sunday morning…Sunday is typically my long-run days. This week, I had planned on running 8 miles (last week’s long run was 7) but I ended up running 9 miles! The temperature was cool – about 60 degrees with a slight breeze – perfect for running. So, somewhere around mile 6, the endorphins kicked in and I had that distinct euphoric feeling that runners brag about. This “runner’s high” is different for everyone, but for me, it makes me feel like I could run for miles and miles, with little to no effort. So at that point, I challenged myself to run 9 instead of 8. By the time I reached home, 72 minutes later (that’s 8-minute miles for those of you who are counting!) I realized that I could have probably run another mile or so. Hmm, maybe I’m more ready for that half-marathon than I thought!

Well, I’m off to pack for Austin – I’m there tomorrow and Tuesday. Have a great night!

Should you stretch before running?

Hey everyone! Today’s lunchtime yoga session at the office was awesome! It’s not the type yoga that gets you all sweaty. It’s gentle yoga, the kind that stretches your muscles, but at the same time relaxes you so that you are refreshed for the rest of the afternoon. Great news too – the yoga instructor is lowering her rates – only $10 a session now instead of $15 – woo hoo!

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

Stretching Before Exercise

While we’re on the topic of stretching, there’s been quite a debate over the last few years about stretching before working out. But recent studies have shown that static stretching before playing a sport makes you weaker. In addition, the CDC reviewed over 100 studies related to static stretching and found that people who did not stretch prior to exercise were no more likely to suffer injuries than those who did stretch.

Running Superstitions

Although significant evidence is suggesting that pre-exercise stretching is not recommended, experts say it will be hard to change decades of ingrained stretching behavior, particularly for runners. Like most athletes, I think runners have their rituals and superstitions. Some have their favorite shirts, lucky socks, and some have a certain stretching routine. So, if you’ve always stretched before running, and it’s worked for you so far, than why break the routine and mess with superstition?

For the most part, I do not stretch before running and haven’t in years. The most I do are a few ankle and trunk rotations, just to wake up my ankles and back before I set off. This has worked for me for many years, without problems, and I’m not about to change now. Just superstitious, I guess. After all, I’m a runner.

Yoga Poses: Are you doing them correctly?

Hi All! I just finished chatting with a bunch of #Fitblog women on Tinychat – so fun! It was great to see so many people turn out. I even saw some familiar names like MerryMishaps and fANNEtasticfood. I miss all of the Fitbloggin crew – can we have a reunion! 🙂 Not sure if I’ll be able to make next Tuesday’s chat #Fitblog chat. I’m in Austin on Monday and Tuesday for business – will try though.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

Training – Today was a lighter day for me running wise – only 5.5 miles. I’ll be running 8 miles at some point this week. I really love running but I think there is a huge caveat – it takes so much of my time when I’m training! I will eventually be working up to a 1.5-2 hour run. With 2 kids, a husband, and full-time job (plus two blogs), who really has 2 hours to dedicate to running? Crazy I tell ya. But if Dimity can do it, so can I! And speaking of Dimity, if you’re a running mommy, you’ve got to pick up the book Run Like a Mother – it really confirms how and why we can (and need to) be mothers and runners at the same time.

Yoga News – I came across a cool news brief today in the Chicago Tribune. It gives a description of the do’s and don’ts of getting into common yoga poses. If you think you’re doing a forward fold correctly – you must see this photo! Downdog? Nope, you’re probably doing it wrong, or at least not as well as you could be.

Ok, bloggies, off to bed for me. Still trying to get 8 hours of sleep – at least one night this week!

Birthday – Take Two

Just when I thought my birthday was over, my husband surprised me with a present! He kept asking me what I wanted but I never gave him a definitive answer. When I arrived home from work today, there was a big gift bag waiting for me on the table with wrapped presents inside. So what did I get?

Present #1 – A Gaiam travel yoga mat! I’ve been wanting one of these so bad!! I’m really trying to get back into the practice of yoga. However, since I’ve been traveling so much for work, I’ve been really inconsistent. Solution – take yoga with me on the road! I’m definitely taking this to Austin next week – yeah! I’ve already downloaded a bunch of Yoga Today sequences from iTunes (free video podcasts), including sequences for travelers, morning/evening, and for runners. Can’t wait!

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

And now onto present #2 – A Spa Day all to myself! This is a double delight – not only do I get the spa treatment for a few hours but I also get peace and quiet – and what mother doesn’t want that 🙂 I’m hoping I can find a day spa that does it all – facials, massage, nails, and yoga – wouldn’t that be fantastic!

Gotta run, I’m off to research day spas!

Exercise All Day Long

Wednesday was a day full of fitness. It literally seemed like I was exercising all day long. It went something like this…
  1. Run
  2. Yoga
  3. Walk
Yoga pose

I started with a 7 mile run – 7 miles in 58 minutes to be exact! This is actually a little slower than I’ve been running the last two weeks. I’ve been averaging 745-8:00 minute miles, running for a max of 6.2 miles (10K). Today, my average was 8:20 – so I guess that last mile really slowed me down.

Next up, yoga! I went to a lunchtime yoga session right in our office. This is my first time practicing yoga in about 3 weeks because I’ve been traveling so much – excuses, excuses 🙁 The session, which was attended by 5 other women in the office, lasted for nearly an hour. I was secretly thankful when the class finally ended because I was so hungry!

After work, I stopped by an outdoor mall to walk and browse for about 30 minutes. It was 80 degrees and sunny, even at 5 PM, so it was a great afternoon for a walk outside. It always seems so much easier to exercise when it’s nice outside. I wonder if I would exercise even more if I lived somewhere where it was nice all of the time – like San Diego. Hmmm, now there’s an idea.

Ok, off to read before bed. I have another fitness-packed day planned for tomorrow so I’ve got to get some sleep!