Archives for April 2010

My 15 Seconds of Fame – Kind of

As most of you know, I attended a conference last week in Orlando. During one of the evening social events, which took place at Disney World (yeah!) there was a live feed filming all of the attendees as they arrived to the event. The live feed was projected on a giant screen for all to see, complete with the Black Eyed Peas blaring in the background (just a recording, Fergie was no where in sight). Take a look at my 15 seconds of fame…

Yep, that’s me in the light blue shirt with the scarf around my neck. A colleague of mine happened to snap this photo just as he saw me come up on the screen. How cool is that? I gotta feelin’….yes it was a good night. I should have been in pictures.

That’s about all I have time for today. I’m scheduled to run at least 5 miles tomorrow (possibly in the rain) so must get to bed.

Have a great night everyone!

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!

Why Whole-Grains Are Healthier

Two seagulls are fighting for a piece of bread. The first bird overpowers the second bird, quickly snaps of up the bread, tastes it, then immediately spits it out. Looking astonished, the second bird says, “Why did you spit out that perfectly good piece of bread?” The first bird replies, “It’s not whole-grain.”

Last night, I ran out to the grocery store to pick up a loaf of whole-grain bread. Unfortunately, it was nearly 9 PM and all of the fresh whole-grain bread was gone or had been hardened from sitting out all day. Against my better judgement, I settled for two medium size loaves of French bread straight from the baker’s oven.

French bread loaves

Back in the Wonder Bread day, I would be happy as a clam to get fresh French bread. But these days, I should know better. French bread, although soft and tasty, is essentially white bread, full of “bad carbs” and not much nutrients. Besides, you’d have to be living in some remote village to not know that whole-grain bread is better for you than bread made with refined grains (white flour). On a side note, I had a sixth grade teacher who was way ahead of the times – he often told our class that eating white bread (aka Wonder Bread) was no better for us than eating paper. I think we all consumed less paper after that.

Why whole-grain is better

Whole-grain bread is made with…well, whole grains. Unlike white bread, whole-grain bread hasn’t had its germ and bran – what gives the bread its fiber – removed by milling and processing. Although, slice by slice, whole-grain bread and white bread have approximately the same number of calories, whole-grain bread has 3 times the amount of fiber and 6 times the amount of protein. And by now, most of you know that eating foods that are high in fiber can aid digestion and help us lose weight because it keeps us feeling fuller longer.

Spotting a whole-grain

If you can’t tell a whole-grain bread from a white flour processed bread, have no fear! Look for the whole truth when trying to spot a whole-grain, fiber-rich bread. A true whole-grain bread (or any whole-grain product) will list whole wheat, whole oats, whole rye, or some other whole grain cereal as the first ingredient. According to the Mayo Clinic, if the  label says “made with wheat flour”, the bread or product may be an intact grain product or it may just be an advertising gimmick, since even highly processed cake flour is made with wheat flour.

Choose Wisely, Choose Whole

So if you’re looking to add more whole-grain to your diet, look for the word “whole” on packaged bread and cereal products – whole grains should be listed as one of the first ingredients. As an extra bonus – go for products that have at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving.

Want to know more about whole grains and whole-grain products? Check out the Whole Grains Council.

On second thought…Eggs

I am not a huge fan of eggs. I probably eat them twice a month, if that. I definitely don’t dislike eggs – but rather I don’t give them a second thought. Years ago, eggs were thought to be “bad” for your health – they were high in fat, cholesterol, etc. But in recent years, research has actually shown that eggs are, in fact, good for us when eaten in moderation. They may even help us lose weight.

A recent study in the journal Nutrition Research showed that men who ate an egg-based breakfast consumed significantly fewer calories during the day compared to men who ate a carbohydrate-rich breakfast. Although both breakfasts had the same amount of calories, the protein-packed egg breakfast seemed to keep the men fuller throughout the day, resulting in 400 fewer calories consumed. And we all know that consuming fewer calories on a daily basis can lead to weight loss, which for most Americans, would be a good thing.

Still a little skeptical, I decided to test out the egg waters. After my fast 4-mile run, my husband made me an omelette consisting of:

  • 2 egg whites and 1 egg
  • 3/4 oz cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/2 cup broccoli
  • 2 tbs salsa
  • 1 slice of bacon

The omelette was perfect and just what I needed after a hard run. In addition, I seemed to feel full all the way to lunch and beyond. In fact, I had absolutely no snacks today! I’m not sure if my snack-free day was the result of my egg breakfast, but I’m definitely willing to give eggs a second thought.

Business Travel Fitness

Often times, people use business travel as an excuse to avoid or postpone their workouts. They’re too busy, too tired, or too stressed to workout. Well, I’m just the opposite. I see business travel as a prime opportunity to enhance my workout – I get to run in a new city, with new sites, new routes, etc. No matter how tired or busy I am, I always find time for a run when I’m traveling for business.

Upward dog yoga pose

For instance, I just returned from Disney World where I was on 4-day business trip. Each day, the conference lasted from about 8 AM to 5:30 PM, followed by an evening reception or dinner with my team. This schedule included longer hours than I was used to in a normal workweek. Yet, 3 of the 4 days I managed to run. I would get up by 6 AM and be out the door by 6:15/6:30 AM. I would head out in the dark toward the Magic Kingdom, taking in all of the morning sounds – including early-rising families anxious to get to the park upon its opening, birds and other wildlife, workers spraying the sidewalks and vegetation, and, most importantly, the music and magic that illuminated from the Magic Kingdom itself. The path leading from the resort past the Magic Kingdom was about 1.75 miles round trip. This was not the best distance, but the path repetition was much better than vying for a treadmill in the resort. My runs would last anywhere from 30-45 minutes, which brought me back in time to meet my group at the 8 AM session. I loved knowing that I was finished with my workout even before most people were having breakfast.

I admit, getting just 6 hours of sleep 4 nights in a row, coupled with early morning runs really takes a toll on the body. But to me, it’s all worth it in the end. If you are like me and travel quite a bit for work or even for fun, remember that you don’t have to neglect your exercise routine while you’re away. Even if you can’t put in your full/regular workout, doing a partial workout can reenergize you and keep you from feeling guilty about all the food and martinis you may be consuming.

Just like jello, no matter where you are, there’s always room for a workout! Here are a few ideas on how to burn a few calories on your next trip:

  • Run or walk around the resort/hotel or city, provided you feel safe.
  • Utilize the hotel gym. If your hotel doesn’t have its own gym, ask if they partner with a local gym that hotel guests can use.
  • Do yoga or stretching in your room. Try yoga download for great yoga routines on the go.
  • Arrange to take a bike or hiking tour with a local company or borrow a bike and a map from the hotel.
  • Swim in the hotel pool.
  • Pack a jump rope and jump in your room (if on the ground floor) or outside in a garden area.

Here’s to more safe, healthy, and happy travels!

Dessert at Disney World

Hello all! Well, despite only getting about 6 hours of sleep, I woke up at 6:15 AM for my morning run at Disney World! Believe me, if there’s anywhere you’re motivated to run that early, it’s Disney World. Besides, I wanted to get my run in before the conference started at 8 AM. I ended up going only about 4 miles, due to time constraints.

I won’t bog you down with details of the conference, but I will say that Disney puts on an awesome “show” for business professionals. And, the food is amazing!!! Seriously, I’ve wanted to take pictures of everything, but it does really seem strange to take photos of food when everyone is standing around me. I’m going to attempt to take a few photos on the sly tomorrow.

However, I did get some pics of my fabulous dessert at Citrico’s, a Mediterranean-themed restaurant in the Grand Floridian resort…

This was a banana chocolate lava cake – sooo good, but definitely pushed me from the “I’m slightly full” stage to the “I’m stuffed” stage – totally regretting eating it now. And yes, that dark swirly, crown looking thing was made out of chocolate – and I did try a bite or two! Our server also gave us each a little bag of biscotti to take home as a “gift”. I scored two – yeah!

Heading to bed now. Have to be up and at ’em by 6:15 Am again for that brisk morning run to the Magic Kingdom!

Have a great night!

Back in the World

Hey all! Well I’m here in sunny Florida again on a business trip. It’s so hard being at Disney World without Scott and the kids – it’s like  a part of me is missing. I tried to overcome my sadness by indulging in a flaky French pastry from Epcot…

Note to self – do not drown sorrows in high-calorie French pastries. The pastry didn’t really improve my mood, but it sure tasted good! After my treat, I walked around the world for over 2 hours! I really needed that too since I did not have time to run this morning. Too bad I forgot my Gruve 🙁

That’s all I have time for tonight. My meeting starts bright and early tomorrow morning (7:30 AM!) and I’m hoping to get up and run around the world (Disney World of course) before the day starts.

Speaking of running, check out my very first blog post on Bookieboo, where you can learn about the ongoing debate of running vs. walking.

Have a great night!

POM Wonderful Care Package

Hey All! As you may have noticed, I’ve been slightly increasing the distance of my early morning runs. On Friday and Sunday, I did a 10K on each day – Friday in 50 minutes and Sunday in 48 minutes! This morning, I ran 5.5 miles in 42 minutes. I just can’t seem to slow down – he he! I’m trying to recruit some of my friends to run the Chicago Rock and Roll Half Marathon – so far, no takers 🙁

Although I’ve been loving these fast and furious runs, my legs are not very happy. My hips and calves are very sore. It’s been ages since I’ve been sore from running – I almost forgot what it felt like!

When I arrived home from work today, I had two surprises waiting for me. Surprise #1 – a care package from POM, special delivery from Fitbloggin – yeah!

The great folks at POM sent Scott and I 8 bottles of pure pomegranate juice. I never really tried pomegranate juice until Fitbloggin, but I’m so glad that I did (mmm…memories of POM martinis!). After Baltimore, I ended up getting the flavored POM juices at the store and loved them – so did the kids. Just wish they didn’t have so many calories in them 🙁

Surprise #2 – Scott stopped off at a bakery on his way home from class and bought me French macarons…

I have honestly never had macarons that were so huge! They were easily 4 inches in diameter, which is very uncharacteristic of a French macaron. But they were delicious!

Tonight is a packing night because I’m headed out to Orlando early Wednesday morning. I’m going to have 4 days of sun and warm weather – kind of. I will mostly be attending a conference indoors, but will have a day or so to roam around Disney. If you all remember, my last trip to Disney in early March ended up being a very cold trip. It only got above 70 degrees on one day while we were there. At least this time, I can pack lighter clothes because the weather is supposed to be in the 80s!

Alright, must get to bed. I’m hoping to do an easy 3-4 miles tomorrow to give my legs a break. Night all.

Map My Run: 6 Miles in 50 Minutes!

Hey all! I had such an awesome run yesterday, mainly because I used Map My Run for the very first time. I know, I know, I’m way behind in the game when it comes to mapping my runs online. I’ve known about the Web site for a while but didn’t give it much thought. I finally broke down and decided to give it a try.

Runners racing with a closeup on their shoes

What is Map My Run?

If you haven’t tried it yet, Map My Run is a site where you can map out the exact route of your run based on your current location (your computer location) or you can give it an address and it will zero in on that location. You can map out point by point the streets you plan to run and it adds up the mileage as you go. Then, you have the option to do a “loop” or to go “out and back”, which just retraces your outbound steps. If you don’t feel like mapping out your new run, there are several pre-mapped runs for your given location that you can use. It is very cool, although I’m sure most of you have tried it or something like it.

Summer Road Racing

What prompted me to try it yesterday was this…I am running the Run for the Zoo 10K (Lincoln Park area of Chicago) with Scott in June and am contemplating running the Chicago Rock and Roll Half Marathon this summer. So, I wanted to see exactly how far I had been going on each of my runs to get a sense of where I am in the training process. It turns out that when I run outside, I’ve been doing about 4.5 miles, which isn’t too bad. For yesterday’s run, I mapped out a 6 mile road route, turned on my ipod, and got going. I ended up running the 6 miles in 50 minutes! Yeah! That is really fast for me – an average of 8:20-minute miles! I guess I’m ready for the zoo run! But if I plan to run the Half I will definitely need to slow down. When I ran the Chicago Half a few years ago I went out way too fast the first 6-7 miles and then jogged the rest. I really learned my lesson – the hard way!

Ok peeps, time to start my day. Have a great Saturday 🙂

Greek Vs. Regular Yogurt

Hello everyone! Thanks for all our kind words regarding yesterday. Not sure how it was by you today but it was absolutely gorgeous here! I woke up around 6 AM and checked out temperature gauge – it said 60 degrees!! It eventually got up to 83 degrees today which I think is a record for the Chicago area.

And what did I do to celebrate this wonderful April Fool’s weather? I went out for an awesome run of course. I ran for about 30 minutes and walked for about 15. I would have gone longer but I needed to get home to get ready for work.

Breakfast was a nutrition-packed cup of Dannon blueberry Greek yogurt with walnuts…in my new Tiffany-esque blue teacup!!!

Greek yogurt in a blue cup with walnuts 2

How cute is that? I bought it from a little tea store by our house called Gala Tea. It’s such a cute little shop with all kinds of teapots, cups, loose leaf teas, etc. When I saw this matching blue cup and saucer I just had to buy it. My yogurt fits so nicely in it, don’t you think??

Greek yogurt in a blue cup with walnuts 1

To round out my protein/MUFA rich breakfast, I added a juicy pear. I got a little fancy with the design…

Sliced pear in the shape of a star 1

I love pears when they are really ripe and this one was perfect.

Anyway, back to the yogurt. I came across some interesting stats on Greek yogurt. I know many of us eat Greek yogurt, not just because it tastes good but because it’s full of protein and calcium. But did you know that regular nonfat yogurt actually has 3 times the amount of  calcium than Greek yogurt?

Cooking Light did a side-by-side comparison of Greek and regular yogurt and found that the two yogurts have the same amount of calories, but are VERY different in terms of calcium, protein, and sodium. Take a look…

Greek nonfat yogurt
(8 ounces)
121 calories
151 milligrams calcium
20 grams protein
83 milligrams sodium

Regular nonfat yogurt
(8 ounces)
127 calories
450 milligrams calcium
13 grams protein
175 milligrams sodium

So, if you want more protein and less sodium, opt for Greek yogurt. But if you’re looking to boost your calcium intake, then regular yogurt is the way to go. However, no matter which yogurt you choose, a cup of either will give you one of the three recommended daily servings of dairy.

Which do you prefer Greek or regular yogurt? What is your favorite yogurt brand?