Archives for January 2010

Barefoot Running Debate

Hey everyone!

I had server/host issues last night so I was MIA. I’d like to start this post with a question for all runners… 

Have you ever run barefoot or thought about running barefoot? And not just running barefoot across a pool deck or while playing on the beach – I mean, truly running barefoot? No? Me either…until now.

barefoot running:

The New Facts

A new study from PM&R: The Journal of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, shows that shoeless running may actually be better for you than running with shoes. The study showed that the force placed on the joints caused by running is greater than when walking in high heels.

The Big Debate

Although the study is new, the idea of barefoot running being good for you is far from novel. There has been a long-standing debate over the benefits of barefoot running, with advocates saying it encourages a more natural style of running, placing less stress on the joints. On the flip-side, running with shoes was shown to increase the torque (twisting force) at the hip, knee, and ankle, compared with barefoot running. Furthermore, the researched showed that the padding under the heel and arch may cause increased stress on the leg joints. 

But, just as there are runners claiming barefoot is best, there are equal numbers of runners who say barefoot running is not a wise option. I agree with the latter and whole-heartedly admit that I do NOT embrace this barefoot running. Who really wants to run on the road or trails with rocks, sticks, glass, and other potential hazards? I’d rather have a little more stress on my legs than a hundred tiny (and not so tiny) cuts on my feet. Besides, can you imagine what your feet would look like after years of barefoot running – like one huge callus! Eeeww!!! Not even a pedicure could help you with that!

How do all of you feel about barefoot running?

If you’re interested in learning more about the pros and cons of barefoot running, Runner’s World has a great article in the February 2010 issue. The magazine also published a very humorous opposing view of barefoot running last year. 

I can’t say whether barefoot running is good or bad, but I’m not ready to give up my shoes just yet.

Dreaming of Palm Trees

Hey all! Is anyone else out there cold to the bone! After a taste of warmer weather in Phoenix (and I say that cautiously because it really wasn’t that warm there) it was hard to come back to gloomy, cloudy, and cold Chicago. But I hear it’s supposed to get better this week – 40 degrees on Wednesday – yeah! You know you live in the North when you consider 40 degrees a warming trend.

I am sooo looking forward to Chicago’s BIG THAW! That’s when I start to run outside on a consistent basis. The treadmill does a nice job keeping me conditioned over the winter months, but there’s nothing like running outdoors. The next time will probably be when we head to Disney World next month – yes I DO run on my vacations! And, speaking of Florida…

Scottsdale palm tree

To prepare for my upcoming trip, I’ve started to add two days of lower body strength exercises – lunges, squats, etc. and upper body exercises to my weekly routine. I’m always surprised at how toned I look after a few weeks of weight training. I really does do the body good! In addition, I’ve slowly been adding to my cardio each week – 5 minutes here, higher intensity there, intervals, etc. Now, if I could just find time to sleep 😉

Next week, I’ll be in Washington for a couple days for a meeting (trip #2 out of 6). I’ll be staying in the Penn Quarter area and am looking for a good place to eat…

Capitol Hill:

I’ve been to Washington, DC, nearly a dozen times, but usually don’t have the time to venture off to non-hotel restaurants. But, in keeping with my New Year’s goals, I am determined to do something fun on my business trips – like walk around the city a bit and eat at a nice restaurant. If you have any suggestions for DC restaurants, let me know! 

You’ll have to excuse my randomness. After working over the weekend, I’m exhausted today! OK, I’m off to study for a little before bed. See you all tomorrow!

Dinner for Two = $142

Last night, after my work-related event was finished, a colleague and I ventured off to downtown Scottsdale for a bite to eat. My colleague had been to Scottsdale several times before and had been raving about a restaurant there. Given that she is a foodie and somewhat of a wine snob, I was pretty sure the restaurant would be a good one – and I was NOT disappointed.

Cowboy Ciao Scottsdale

We ate at Cowboy Ciao, a very eclectic restaurant, with a mix of Southwest meets LA meets NY kind of menu. Plus, they had a HUGE wine menu, probably 3x the size of the food menu. It was easily the largest wine menu I’ve ever seen -and I’ve seen quite a few on business trips.

My colleague wasted no time devouring all of the listed wines and decided on a French white wine. I can’t tell you the name but I can tell you that it was an aged wine – 10 years old – and about $45 a bottle! Yikes – I was glad I was not buying.

1.9.10 Stetson Salad

We both ordered the restaurant’s signature salad – the Stetson Salad, which is a mix of all sorts of goodies. I can’t remember all of the ingredients, but I know there were corn nibbles, couscous, tomatoes, and chicken thrown in there. The mix of flavors was outstanding! And, because I opted for chicken instead of salmon, this salad could have easily been my meal.

But oh no, it didn’t stop there. Next, we ordered our entrees…

1.9.10 butternut squash and bacon quesadilla

By this time, I was feeling pretty full, so I wanted to keep my entree on the lighter side. I had the butternut squash and bacon quesadilla. OMG – bacon and butternut squash – come ON! Why didn’t I think of that sooner! This quesadilla was fantastic! I only wish that I wasn’t so full when I ordered this. I ended up eating two pieces and leaving the rest.

As I mentioned last night, a piece of red velvet birthday cake was the grand finale of the meal.

1.9.10 red velvet birthday cake

I know, I know, I’ve already said I was full. I should have thrown in my napkin after the entree. But, when our waiter said those magic words – Red Velvet – all reasoning went out the window.

If you are ever in Phoenix or Scottsdale, I highly recommend this restaurant. It really is a restaurant for foodies, wine lovers, and anyone looking for something fun and different. However, it is NOT cheap. Our bill came to $142 with tip – again, so glad someone else was buying!

I was so incredibly full after the meal that I had to walk around the hotel for 40 minutes when we got back. I’m so glad I did or else that food would have been laying in my stomach like a big lump all night.

Alright, I’m back in the office tomorrow so must head to bed.

Next trip – Wash, DC, in two weeks!

Chocolate Beginnings and Endings

I am officially on the first trip of 6 or seven trips that I have planned for the next 5 months. I have already eaten more food in two days than I normally do in about 4!! And yes, I am truthful when I say that my day began with chocolate and ended with chocolate. I really have to start pacing myself or I’m going to gain 10 pounds by May.

To give you an example of my less than ideal food selections, breakfast was a carb-loading buffet…

1.9.10 Scottsdale breakfast buffet

And so, my day started with a chocolate muffin pictured in the center. Yes, there was a fruit options, but the chocolate muffin seemed to be calling my name. 

My day ended with a piece of red velvet chocolate birthday cake…

1.9.10 red velvet birthday cake

And if you think that’s rich, you should see the rest of the food I had in between!! But you’ll have to wait for those details tomorrow. I’m tired and must leave for the airport at 5:45 Am.

Have a great night!

From Snow to Sun in 3 Hours

Hello everyone!

Well, I’m here in sunny Scottsdale! I guess it’s not really sunny right now but it was definitely sunny when I landed at the Phoenix airport earlier today. Anything is better than the 20 degrees and 8 inches of snow I left in Chicago! It’s amazing that in just 3 hours, I went from SNOW to complete SUN – and 70 degree weather.

I’m here in Arizona for the first of 5 meetings that I will be attending in the next 5 months (all in different locations). I’m so busy that I will most likely NOT get to enjoy the gorgeous weather 🙁 But, I did manage to snag one of these babies from the pool bar…

1.8.10 banana mango smoothie

As you can tell, I didn’t waste any time sucking down this banana mango smoothie. It tasted soooo good but I’m sure it was loaded with calories from all of the sugar. Oh well, I just off set the calories by having something very healthy at lunch…

1.8.10 grilled chicken salad

A fantastic dinner salad with hearts of palm and grilled chicken – OMG – it tasted soo good. That is where my healthy eating stopped for the day. I won’t get into details on dinner/snacks, but let’s just say that it was a two dessert kind of a night! 

I wasn’t able to fit my running shoes or workout clothes in my VERY small carry on (good thing I ran before I left this morning!), but I’m hoping to get up early tomorrow and walk around the resort for a bit before my meeting. Oh yeah, there’s a Starbucks just up the road – a perfect walking destination! And, actually buying a Starbucks wouldn’t even break my restaurant diet rule because my company is buying – woo hoo! I can see a tall skinny mocha in my very near future….

Night all 😉

Green Tea Living

Hey there!

Today was our first session of beginner yoga at work. The class, which was a complimentary session, was held in our small auditorium onsite. I have been so excited for so long about this class that it pains to me to say…the class was extremely underwhelming. It was so basic that I felt like I didn’t receive any benefit other than a break from work. Granted, some of the 10 women who attend were complete yoga novices, but it still left me disappointed. However, I have committed myself to 4 more weeks (or sessions) of the class. I really hope it gets better or I will be totally bummed.

When I came home from work, my day got a little better when I saw that a new book had arrived in the mail…Green Tea Living 2

Green Tea Living is a Japan-inspired guide to eco-friendly health, habits, and happiness. Although it focuses much of the book on the healing (and other) properties of green tea, it also offers insight into how we can live greener lives, similar to how they live in Japan. The book is super cute and is a quick read – I read or scanned most of the book in just an hour. It is also easy to navigate with specific chapters dedicated to eco-friendly beauty, eating, cleaning, healing, and much more. It even has references to the practice of yoga which was nice surprise.

This book totally inspires me to drink green tea…

Yogi Green Tea

But it also made me think about how wasteful people can be, including myself. That’s one thing I really want to improve on this year is cutting down on unnecessary waste – reusing shopping bags, recycling water bottles and cans, and trying to fix things around the house before buying something new. Holly, you’d be so proud of my new outlook on green living! 

Gotta finish packing for my trip to Phoenix tomorrow. Hope you’re staying warm and dry wherever you are!

Calm Before the Storm

Like most of the Eastern half of the United States, Chicago is in the middle of a deep arctic freeze – or at least that’s what it feels like! Good thing I ordered my new coat from JCrew  – yeah! Now all I need is a warm set of gloves and I’ll be set for the rest of the winter.

Because we are all trying to warm up in our house, soup sounded perfect for tonight’s dinner…

1.6.10 Chicken soup 3

Seriously, chicken noodle soup is like the edible version of a big fuzzy sweater or a huge bear hug – warm and cozy I tell ya!

Around midnight tonight, Chicago is supposed to start getting snow. Not just any snow but SNOW! From midnight until Friday morning we are supposed to get anywhere between 6 and 12 inches of snow. I know, you probably think that Chicagoans are used to snow. And, for the most part, we are. But when snow falls that hard, that fast, it can really cause trouble on the roads – whether you’re used to driving in the snow or not.

For the most part, I don’t mind the snow – when I don’t have to leave my house and venture into it. But when I know that I’m supposed to go to work the next day, I get quite anxious before the storm hits. I spend all day listening to and reading the weather reports. Then I practically have an anxiety attack thinking about how long it’s going to take me to get to and from work (usually 2-3 hours each way in bad snow). 

So to calm myself down this evening, I chilled out with my new tres chic calendar…

1.6.10 French Women for All Seasons Calendar 3

The 2010 engagement calendar/planner is actually based on the popular book, French Women For All Seasons, by Mireille Guiliano. She also is the author of the fabulous book, French Women Don’t Get Fat, which I adore! The planner has large calendar pages interspersed with recipes from Guiliano’s books as well as French language lessons, and other surprises. Plus, it has colorful, French-themed illustrations – how cute is that?

And yes, those are more French macarons pictured above – do you see a theme here?? 🙂

I am supposed to leave on Friday morning for my Phoenix trip. With the winter storm headed Chicago’s way, who knows if I’ll be able to get out. I hope I do because I could really use some warmer weather right about now!

Ciao babes!

Fun With French Macarons

Hello everyone!

Thank you all for your kind words about my last post and my 2 babies! I really struggled with whether or not to tell all of you about them. But then I realized that it’s really hard to talk about some aspects of my life (like travel, stress, etc.) without mentioning that I have children! Now you can understand why I’ve only been posting once a day and so late at night 😉

Anyway, the day started off per usual, with a fast 40-minute run on the t-mill, followed by a big, green, juicy pear – just ripe for the pickin’ eating…

1.5.10 Pear

And it looks too cute on my oh so pretty plate from Anthropologie!

On Friday, I will head out to Phoenix/Scottsdale for the 1st of 6 trips I have planned for the next 5 months (5 of the trips being work-related). So this week, I’m trying to get a bunch of things done before leaving the office on Thursday. I really want to use any extra free time I have on this Phoenix trip to STUDY for my personal trainer test. It’s only about 5 weeks away – yikes!

Lunch ended up being leftover chicken noodle soup from Sunday, along with another LUNA bar. I was actually in the middle of a project when I paused for lunch and completely zonked on the picture taking.

Scott doesn’t start teaching his night class until next week, so he was home tonight! Thank goodness too, because he had dinner almost ready by the time I came home from work (and from picking up Mr. C and Miss M). He made an awesome one-pot meal of sausage, leeks, and tri-colored bell peppers…

1.5.10 Sausage Leek 1

I do want to point out that I made this dish FIRST, so in essence, I taught Scott everything he knows about this lovely meal!

1.5.10 Sausage Leek 4

After dinner, I was soooo wanting a cookie or another somethin’ somethin’ from Barnes and Noble Cafe. But, seeing as we just started our Restaurant Diet, I went to freezer to see if it would magically reveal something that I like – and it DID!!

1.5.10 French Macaron 2

I bought these little beauties just before Christmas at Trader Joe’s! Who would have thought that TJ’s would have French macarons (yes, they are spelled with just one “o”, unlike American macaroons). Now I absolutely adore French macarons – love them, love them, love them! So, when I saw them at TJ’s, I just about squealed with delight. Normally, I would prefer fresh macarons from a patisserie but seeing as those are few and far between in the Chicago suburbs, TJ’s macarons would do just fine – and that they did!

1.5.10 French Macaron 5

After about 15-20 minutes of thawing, I anxiously tried the vanilla flavor. Oh my – this cookie was so light and creamy and the flavor was incredible! Since they are a Trader Joe’s product, you know that they are using natural ingredients. Plus, they are only 45 calories per cookie – perfect for a little after-dinner treat. 

Ok, enough fun with my macarons, it’s time to hit the books. Have a wonderful night!

Surprise! It's A Boy…And A Girl

Hello out there! It has been nearly 6 months since I started Running With Cake. Like most of you, I don’t reveal all of my surprises right away, if at all. Some information needs to be kept close for security purposes or for other sensitive reasons.

What I’m getting to is this. Surprise! Scott and I are the parents of two young children! Our son, let’s call him Mr. C, is 4 and our daughter, we’ll call her Miss M, is 2 (very James Bond-esque names, don’t ya think ;-)). They, along with my husband, bring me so much happiness just by their presence.


There they are, looking out onto the orchard where we went apple picking in September.

I chose not to mention my children for many reasons, but here are a few top ones:

  1. Safety/security reasons – too many crazies out there!
  2. I wanted this blog to be about my health habits and not a mommy blog (but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with mommy blogs)
  3. I didn’t want to be one of those people who talks about their kids all the time

So, as I’ve been writing the past 6 months, retelling my daily eating habits, health habits, and overall life events, my children have been with me 100% of the way. They have actually been a key part of my healthy lifestyle. I mean, how can you NOT be healthy chasing after two little ones?? I’m also a firm believer that our children will follow our lead, so I’m trying to not only be healthy for me, but also to set an example for them. I want them to grow up loving exercise and sports, while also knowing the importance of healthy and balanced eating. My son often says, “Mom, when I get bigger, I’m going to run with you.” For a mother and a runner, that is a sentence that brings me tears of joy.

Going forward, I don’t know how much I will mention Mr. C and Miss M, if at all, but know that they are still a huge part of my life and my heart.

By the way, if you think you have a crazy and stressful life, take a look at mine.

Jennifer (aka Running With Cake) is a…

  • Wife of a successful entrepreneur 
  • Mother of two
  • Career women with a full-time senior-level position
  • Author of two blogs
  • Aspiring Personal Trainer (studying for the exam!) 
  • An avid runner
  • A frequent traveler (for work mostly)
  • A neat freak

Whew! Can I have any more responsibility in my life! 🙂

Night all!

The Restaurant Diet

Hello All!

In July 2009, Scott and I went on a diet. Now, I typically don’t believe in dieting, but this was no ordinary diet. When Scott and I realized that we were averaging $475 a month on eating outside the home, we nearly passed out right on the floor! I seriously can’t believe we were going out to eat THAT much. But the numbers didn’t lie. We were going to eat that much and desperately needed to stop.

Restaurant check:

So, we put ourselves on a diet – a spending diet. We called it our Restaurant Diet

The Restaurant Diet – For one month, it was no spending any of our own money on Starbucks or any other restaurants, including take-out. Was it difficult?  You bet it was! I felt like every Starbucks was calling my name. I felt like everyone in the world was going out to eat but me. Although my family knew of our self-inflicted plight, my coworkers did not (I guess I was too embarrassed to tell them). By the end of the month, I think I just about ran out of excuses for why I couldn’t go out to eat (unless, of course, someone else was buying!). Our only reprieve was a gift certificate that we strategically used and the welcomed business trip that allowed for a Starbucks or two.

Although there were several great reasons why we did this little experiment, the main reason was to save money. And, believe it or not, after one month on the Restaurant Diet we shaved $500 off of our food bill! Wow, it felt so good to say that we saved that much money on food. And we did it by following these 8 Strategies for Dining At Home

Although our diet only lasted for one month, we said that we would try to cut down on eating outside the home. Yeah right, that lasted a few weeks, then, it was back to the old Jen and Scott – spending money freely.

However, after seeing our December food budget go through the roof (granted, the holidays were thrown in there), we decided that January was as good a time as any to start our diet again. We would have actually started this sooner, but our intentions were clouded by the excuses in our heads, including…

Excuses for Eating Out…

  1. We’re too busy, so we must rely on going out to eat as our Plan B – but plan B quickly turned into our plan A.
  2. We don’t want to clean up. We don’t mind the cooking park, it’s the cleaning that sucks.
  3. We’re tired of our “go-to” recipes and must use restaurant food to get us out of our slump.
  4. We have quite a bit of traveling coming up, so how can we avoid going out to eat when we’re out of town?
  5. We both agreed – food just tastes better when someone else makes it for you.

OK, no more excuses. Tomorrow, January 4, we will officially begin the second round of our Restaurant Diet, which will last through February 3. Although this diet is difficult, it really is simple in theory because it only has one rule:

Rule #1 – No spending our own money on food/drinks other than groceries*

*Gift cards, gift certificates, and spending other people’s money are all fair game!

Ready, set, go!