Thursday, November 29, 2012

Running Inspiration

Lately, I've been on a big running kick. Usually, I like to mix up my cardio with cycling too, but these past two weeks all I want to do is run. Even when my body hurts! Do you ever have those days when your body feels tired, but your mind just craves a run? How do you get yourself out there despite feeling pain for the first thirty minutes?

Sure, it's all about a mind set, but I also think many of you can attest to having a running mentor that inspires you to get out there. For me, it's my dear friend Andy. I met Andy 4 or so years ago at Butler. Little did I know, he would soon inspire me to trade in my volleyball spandex for running spandex.

Andy was an honorary bridesmaid in our wedding aka an usher.
Andy is an avid runner and running shoe specialist. This kid watched me run one time, and started picking out shoes for me. For the past 4 or so years I've let him pick my shoes, and I must say he is a genius because my foot problems have disappeared. He now works as a Brooks Guru, and I often brag that I have my own Brooks Guru shoe specialist (every runners dream!)

So jealous that he gets to drive this around.
Speaking of Brooks, on Monday I got a lovely package with the Brooks Pure Cadence. I've been dying to try them out, and once I get them broken in you can expect a full review. For those of you who don't know about Brook's Pure Project line, they are minimalist shoes. Their new versions will be coming out next week, so check them out. Not only are they great running shoes, but the different colors are sure to make you stand out on the trail.

Anyway, Andy is defiantly my running inspiration, and not because he used to run in shorts in the middle of winter. More so because of his knowledge, and ability to help me get out of a running rut. On the days when I don't feel like running, I'll shoot him a text about something running or something shoe related and I instantly feel like running. Don't worry Andy, that's not the only reason why I text you.

Who is your running inspiration? If you don't have one yet, keep searching. You will find that one person that motivates you to hit the trail even when your mind is telling you "heck no!" Cheers to running happy!

Month of Gratitude:
Today I am grateful for all of the lifelong friends I made in college. We all live in different areas, but manage to stay close despite the distance.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Recap

Happy Monday! It's back to reality after a nice long weekend. Sorry that this post is delayed, but it's better late than never! I'm happy to report that my first Thanksgiving was a success! We had a group of 9 that joined us in Chicago, and I was finally able to use all of my serving dishes! On the menu:
  • Appetizers:
    • Apple Brie Crostini
    • Stuffed Red Potato Bites (stuffed with light artichoke dip)
    • Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Pita Chips
  • Dinner
    • Turkey (I ordered it from Honey Baked Ham because I didn't want my oven to be taken up for 8 hours)
    • Cornbread and Turkey Sausage Stuffing
    • Mom's Mashed Potato Casserole
    • Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts
    • Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Parsnips
    • Field Green Salad with pomegranate seeds and feta
    • Homemade Orange Cranberry Sauce
  • Dessert
    • Pumpkin Pie
    • Apple Pie
Dad carved the bird. 
Everything turned out as planned, and I even shocked my guests by showing them that traditional Thanksgiving dishes can be made healthy! After dinner, we went to Second City for a holiday comedy show. For those of you in the area, I highly recommend seeing the Nut-Cracking Holiday Revue. You will literally cry from laughing so much!

Only half of our dinner
All in all, I love hosting! I've already been volunteered to host Thanksgiving every year, but we'll see what next year brings!

In the mean time, here is my recipe for the fruit salsa that I made for an appetizer. You can serve it with cinnamon pita chips, graham crackers, or just eat it by the spoonful! Enjoy!

                                                                      Fruit Salsa


1 Pint of Strawberries
1 Large Honey Crisp Apple
2 Kiwi, Peeled
1 T All Natural Raspberry Preserves


1. Dice the berries, apple, and kiwi
2. Mix together in a medium sized bowl
3. Add 1 T of raspberry preserves and mix well
4. Chill for 20 minutes and serve with cinnamon pita chips or graham crackers

Month of Gratitude:
Today I am grateful for our Chicago "family." We moved to this city with no friends, and happened to stumble across a group of people through rugby, and have not separated yet! They are a crazy bunch, but I wouldn't trade them for anything!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Hangover Cure

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! I had an amazing time with some of my family, and happy to say that everyone enjoyed my first Thanksgiving dinner! I'll give a brief recap on it in a later post with the recipes, but first and foremost, does anyone else have a Thanksgiving hangover? I'm not talking about your usual hangover, but instead one induced from eating too much.

Well, I plan on getting rid of it ASAP. A lot of people stay in the holiday mode until the New Year and end up gaining 5 or more pounds and never get rid of the "hangover." That is not in my plans!

I find the best way to get back on track is to start with a healthy breakfast. Give my Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal a try. It's a wonderful mix of peanut butter, whole grains, and protein. You can add several mix-ins to this, but for this one I stuck with flax and raisins, and topped it with a banana and pomegranate seeds.

Give it a try to get rid of the Thanksgiving hangover. Now it's time for me to get a good workout in. Nothing gets ride of the Thanksgiving guilt like a good sweat out. Enjoy, and cheers to a Holiday season of taking control of your health.

                                                         Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal
                                                                         Serves 4


2 1/2 C Old Fashioned Oats
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 C Brown Sugar
2 Eggs, Beat
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 C Peanut Butter (Chunky or Smooth)
1/4 C Raisins (Optional)
2 T Flax Seed (Optional)
2 T Unsweetened Apple Sauce
1 1/2 C Skim Milk (or milk of choice)
1 tsp Vanilla


1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 Degrees.
2. Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Pour into an 8 inch square casserole dish.
4. Bake for 35 minutes. The oatmeal should be golden brown and firm in the middle.
5. Top with fresh fruit, and enjoy!

Month of Gratitude:
Today I am thankful that God gave each of my sisters a different talent. We may be complete opposites at times, but we complement each other well.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sweating Pink

Happy Monday! You know what makes this Monday better than all of the other Mondays? It's a 3 day work week, now that is music to my ears! 

I hope you all had a great weekend. This weekend, I upgraded my shoe collection with a pair of neon pink soccer cleats. Let me rewind really fast, I used to play soccer and loved it! Then, I was introduced to volleyball and had to decide between the two since they are in the same season. Obviously, volleyball trumped and took me on an amazing ride. That being said, last year I agreed to join some of our friends in what I thought was going to be a recreational soccer league. Yes, it was rec, but these people took it seriously! I personally just enjoyed running up and down the field. I vowed after last season to never play again, but of course the competitive side of me chose to play again this year. 

Yes, I know the socks make this outfit even better. You should see Kyle's, they are Superman socks and  literally have a cape flying off the back. 
That being said, I decided to stop ruining my running shoes and bought some sweet cleats. On top of that, I'm also getting a little more serious about playing and actually getting better. Dad, I actually headed a ball this weekend just like the old days. I knew that'd make him happy. Anyway, the new pink cleats make me feel like Usain Bolt, so watch out others in the soccer league! 

Anything is better in pink!
Speaking of pink.... I got asked to be a Sweat Pink Ambassador last week!! For those of you wondering what this means, I am now an ambassador for a healthy living community that believes: 

"Kicking ass is best done in pretty shoes. We've learned that real women sweat and sweat hard! We know that assertiveness, strength, and ambition are the ultimate feminine qualities. We are convinced that sometimes it takes hours to get ready, but we're no strangers to rolling out of bed and going. We're convinced that we run fast in pink shoelaces. We believe in pushing ourselves, and we believe in giving ourselves a break too. We're all about the rush of endorphins and the thrill of the challenge. We're all for looking great and feeling even better. We're committed to finding our best fit, and making it stick."

I am so excited to be an ambassador for them and to continue to help others live a healthy lifestyle! Have a great week everyone and remember to stay committed to your fitness through the holiday season! 
Month of Gratitude:

I am grateful that I have grandparents who enjoy living a healthy lifestyle in their late 70's and that they have taught me that living a healthy lifestyle isn't just about eating healthy and being active. It's also about having time alone with God everyday. 

I love how they will kayak for 3+ hours at a time like it's their job! It's not every day you have your grandpa begging you to go out with him to kayak in 6 foot waves for fun! God has surely blessed me, and I love learning from them as much as they love learning from me. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Health Freak Christmas Guide 2

In my last post, I started my Health Freak Christmas Guide. It's a little cheat sheet for all of you who have fitness guru's to shop for. I've added a few more items for you to check out. Enjoy!

Health Freak Christmas Guide Volume 2

6. Garmin Forerunner 210 GPS Monitor
I've always admired Garmin's watches, but haven't gotten the nerve to spend $250+ on one yet. Yet is the key word there. I'm sure I will get one in the next year, if not this Christmas, because it will take my running to the next level. Personally, I know I'll get ultra competitive with the watch and try to up my pace more than I can with my normal sports watch. There are so many options, so before purchasing one, I suggest checking out DC Rainmaker. He does a full analysis of each watch from the packaging down to the little hidden features.

7. Therawheel
My friend's brother invented this gem. "Therawheel is the ONLY therapy product that rolls, glides, and compresses ANY soft tissue in ANY direction." Imagine a foam roller, but 100 times better. Their website is great because it offers videos and tips on how to use the Therawheel to aid in recovery and pain relief. This product is a  must for your nagging pains and soreness after workouts!

8. Running Medal Display
For those of you who have a lot of medals, this is a great way to display them! You can hang it in your office, home gym, or heck be proud and hang it in the living room! Where ever you decide to put it, you can be sure that it will serve as a constant motivation to get back out there and keep racing!

9.Marathon Jewelry 
You can't wear your medal around your neck everyday, but you can boast this beautiful piece of jewelry. I plan on buying this just to keep me motivated for my first marathon. Have pride in your successes!

10. Cyclists Ornament
Don't forget about the cyclists and triathletes out there. This pewter ornament would be great to top a gift with or for a stocking. The best part is, at $11.50 it won't break the bank!

I hope you all enjoy these gift ideas. Let me know what is on your list in the comments below! I'm always looking for things to add to my wish list!


Month of Gratitude:
This morning while eating breakfast I realized how grateful I am that I have choices in regards to what I eat. I can eat oatmeal, eggs, etc...many people are given one choice, eat what's in front of them or starve to death. Thank you Lord for providing for me.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Health Freak Christmas Guide

I'm not one to start my Christmas shopping early because I have a really hard time holding on to the gifts before Christmas. Just ask my mom, I'm pretty sure every year she gets her gifts a week early just because I cannot contain my excitement. I almost did the same thing with my 2 year old nephew this weekend. I took him to the Disney store and had to really hold myself back from buying him every little thing he asked for. Luckily I showed a little self control.

He tried to fit every stuffed animal in his arms. 
With Christmas right around the corner I'm sure some of you are wondering what you should get that friend of yours that is a health freak, gym rat, and yoga pants collector (hmm...that sounds like me). Well, you could walk around your local running store or Sports Authority all day trying to find the perfect gift, or you could just make life simple and pick from my list below.

I have a couple of the items below, but there also a lot of the items that I want to buy (hint: Kyle).Please note that I not paid by any of these brands to promote their items. This wish list was generated by me as a girl who loves workout products!

A Fitness Guru's Wish List
1. Athleta Odyssey Chatarunga Yoga Knickers
Kyle bought me these a couple months ago, and I am obsessed! I wear them for yoga, pilates, running, cleaning, grocery shopping, and pretty much every other activity that permits yoga pants. They are true to size, and relatively affordable for yoga pants. I own them in charcoal but I'm always open to other colors! A girl can never have too many pairs of yoga pants!

2. Women's Nightlife Essential Run Jacket II
For those of you who live in the Midwest, I'm sure you find yourself running in more darkness than day light. That is why this jacket is a perfect holiday purchase! If you buy the yellow one, you are bound to stick out in any crowd while running, so it's perfect for running safety! I personally, want the pink one, but that's just because it matches my running shoes! I have not tried this jacket yet, but from the reviews it seems to be breathable and "doesn't stick to sweaty arms." That's a big seller for me because I have one jacket that I love to wear running, but post runs I have to peel that sucker off.

3. Road ID
Another runner safety product. I bought one of these after hearing that my heart was enlarged and because you can never be too cautious as a runner. I have the Wrist ID Elite, and I love it. It fits similar to a watch, and you size it yourself.

4. Lululemon No Limits Tank
Now, this is one of the top things on my wish list. I love Lululemon's workout tops and I've seen a lot of women at the gym with this one. A lot of workout tops claim to have built in bras, but they don't offer a lot of support. This one appears to offer the same support as an actual sports bra, and I must admit it looks super cute! There's nothing better than looking good at the gym because it really boosts your confidence and improves your workout.

5. Yoga Towel
Somehow I have managed to do yoga for the past 5 years without one of these amazing towels. I always say that I need to pick one up, but somehow I manage to never do it. These towels are great for enhancing your yoga practice and ensuring you don't slip when doing arm balances and headstands. Check it out, and while you're buying it send one my way too!

I will share 5 more ideas with you in another post this week. Stay tuned!


Month of Gratitude:
Today I am thankful to live in such a beautiful place. I am daily amazed at how much God has blessed me by letting me in live in the city of Chicago. I am so thankful that He has allowed me wake up every morning and look out my window at the lake and city. God is so good to me.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Apple and Pear Brie Crostini

I received the best package ever last week! Chobani surprised me with my own custom case of my favorite Greek yogurt: Lemon, Pomegranate, and Plain! Yum!!! I was seriously like a kid on Christmas opening up the box!

It's true, I am a "Chobaniac"
Chobani, I must tell you, you made me one happy blogger! I was tempted to skip dinner and just eat yogurt, but I decided I'd end dinner with a Chobani dessert instead! Best part of my day! What's your favorite Chobani flavor?

Chobani Time!
With Thanksgiving only a week and a half away, I have another healthy recipe for your holiday dinner...Apple and Pear Brie Crostini. I originally got this idea from the Craving Chronicles, and I knew right away that I had to make it for my Thanksgiving party. Craving Chronicles made it with apples, but I also tried it with pears and it was equally delicious. I may even try it with fig preserves next.

This recipe is so easy that I even hesitate to call it a recipe. Basically, you just throw a handful of ingredients together and it's done! Give this a try for Thanksgiving or even for a Sunday snack. Enjoy!

                                                               Apple and Pear Brie Crostini
                                                     Recipe Inspired from Craving Chronicles


1 Whole Wheat Baguette, Cut into thin slices
8 oz Brie Cheese, cut into small pieces that will fit on the crostini
1 Honey Crisp Apple, Slice thin
1 Pear, Slice thin
1/4 C Chopped Toasted Pecans


1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Brush both sides of each bread slice with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. 2. Toast the bread for 5 minutes. Half way through the time, flip each slice to get each side extra toasty.
3. Once the bread is toasted, top each slice with a piece of brie. Return the pan to the oven and bake for a 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Make sure you keep an eye on it because you do not want the crostini or cheese to burn.
4. Top each crostini with either a pear or apple, or get crazy and top it with both! Drizzle with honey and a few pecans.
5. Eat immediately, and enjoy:)


Month of Gratitude:
Today I am thankful for my adorable nephew. He keeps our family young, and is a gift from God. I may live 2 hours from him, but I am thankful that Facetime lets us bridge the distance. I love you Korbin!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Healthy Thanksgiving Cooking

Thanksgiving is two weeks away from tomorrow! Hope that doesn't freak anyone out too much! As stated in my earlier post, I will be hosting for a small group this year. I am very excited to host, but mostly excited to finally use all of the serving dishes that I got from my wedding!

I love Thanksgiving, but I'm always cautious to not eat too much because many traditional dishes are loaded with calories and fat. According to ACE Fitness, the average Thanksgiving meal has around 3,000 calories! Ah, just writing that number makes me feel like I just gained weight. Don't worry, I'm not going to tell you to not eat on Thanksgiving. That would just be cruel. Instead, over the next two weeks, I will provide you with some healthier Thanksgiving options that you can serve.

Last night, I tried out my first homemade stuffing. After doing a lot of research, I found a recipe for Cornbread and Turkey Sausage Stuffing. It was delicious! A lot of stuffing recipes are loaded with butter and pork sausage, but this one has no butter and uses Italian turkey sausage. Therefore, the fat content is drastically lower!

I also love this stuffing because it is filled with flavor, low in sodium, and extremely moist. Oh, and did I forget to mention that it's really easy to make? Give this recipe a try for your Thanksgiving dinner or for dinner tonight. Let me know what you think in the comments below, and remember that you can avoid Holiday weight gain with Fueling Strong!

Also, today I am so honored to have my blog featured on Fit Blogger. For those of you who have not checked it out yet, click here to see the feature. Fit Blogger is an awesome community of health and wellness bloggers, who share my similar passion of helping others achieve their fitness goals.

                                               Cornbread and Turkey Sausage Stuffing
                                                           Recipe from Eating Well
                                                          Serves 12 (1 C Servings)


1 Pound Sweet Italian Turkey Sausages (about 4 links), casings removed
1 Yellow Onion, Finely Chopped
4 Celery Stalks, Finely Chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 tsp salt
Ground Pepper, to taste
12 Cups Prepared Cornbread, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1/4 C Parsley, Chopped
1 T Fresh Sage, Chopped
1.5 - 2 C Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth

Start Cookin'

1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Coat a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
2. In a large skillet, brown the turkey sausage. Once the  meat is browned, drain the fat in a colander and rinse the meat to get rid of any extra grease.
3. Place the meat back in the saute pan and add the onion and celery. Cook this for about 10 minutes until the veggies are tender.
4. Transfer the meat mixture into a large bowl and add season with salt and pepper.
5. Add the cornbread, sage, and parsley and mix gently. Be careful not to break up the corn bread too much.
6. In a small pan, bring the broth to a simmer. Ladle 1 C of broth over the bread mixture and gently stir. Continue to add broth by 1/2 C increments until the bread is moist but not wet.
7. Transfer the stuffing into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.


Month of Gratitude:
I am grateful to have parents who have never held me back from achieving my dreams. They constantly told me to chase my dreams no matter how far from home my endeavors took me. I am grateful that to this day they still support my decisions, and encourage me to fly. Love you mom and dad!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Traveling to a Food Desert

Well, that weekend flew by! Kyle and I woke up at 5AM on Saturday to drive to Waverly, Iowa for his rugby playoffs. For those of you who have not been to Waverly, well... you're not missing too much. It's a very small town with one or two hotels, no Starbucks, but lots of Midwest charm.

The only hotel in town resembled an old nursing home..gag
Unfortunately, the boys didn't win, but it was a fun weekend. One of my first concerns was how I was going to get a quality workout in? Thankfully, I was able to find a decent hilly area, so I took some time to indulge in that. While running I also stumbled across a high school track, so I did a track workout too. I haven't done a legit track workout since college because it's hard to find an outdoor track in the city that isn't locked to keep gangs out.

Thankfully, in this small town they keep theirs open! For those of you looking for a good speed workout, try my track workout:

 - 1 Mile Warm Up
 - 2.5 Mile Race Pace
 - 10 - 100 M sprints with 15 seconds in between each sprint 
 - 400 M Recovery Lap
 - 4 - 200 M sprints with 30 second rests between each spring
 - 1 Mile cool down jog

I've grown to love this place.

Thanks Waverly-Shell Rock High School for letting me use your track, and for bringing back some great volleyball track workout memories!

Whenever I go to a small town, I always find it hard to find healthy food. It's almost like a lot of small towns are food deserts. By this I mean, they have limited access to healthy food. Prime example, while at breakfast on Sunday, the waitress brought me some strawberries for my oatmeal. Well, I assumed they would be fresh strawberries. Bad assumption. She brought me this gooey mess.

Unfortunately, receiving these led me on one of my nutrition rants to Kyle. I'll save you the pain of hearing every little word of my rant, but in a nut shell... It saddens me that people think products like this strawberry syrup are healthy because it has fruit in it. It does have fruit, but it also has a lot of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and other scary ingredients.

Needless to say, those strawberries stayed in that bowl where they belonged. Anyone else experience a lack of healthy food choices in really small towns?

Well, good news is that I am back in Chicago and ready for another productive week of work, eating healthy, and working out. Have a great week everyone!


Month of Gratitude:
Today I am thankful for all of the healthy restaurants in Chicago. I love knowing that I can walk down the street and get an organic meal, and not have to worry about what the cook tried to sneak into my dish.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Aunty Brag Book

I think I am still in denial that it is already November! That means it's time to start planning my Thanksgiving menu (partially done), decide what to buy Kyle, and start the rest of my Christmas shopping. O boy! Before I get too involved in the upcoming holidays, I want to take a second to turn my blog into an Aunty Brag Book.

Yep, that little cutie went as the world's cutest lion cub for Halloween! We Facetimed for a little bit, and let me tell you his little roar was the cutest thing ever! While I'm on the topic of Halloween, Kyle went as a basketball player with too short of shorts and I went as Jay Cutler with his new baby and baby carrier. Now that I think about it, Kyle kind of resembles a gymnast with his outfit as well.
Being Jay Cutler required lots of pouty faces. 
Were you guys able to say NO to the Halloween candy? My mom helped me defeat my candy cravings with an Edible Arrangement! When I saw it at the front desk, I contemplated not telling Kyle because I love fruit that much, but I was nice.

This included chocolate covered pineapple... delicious! 
In addition to devouring this masterpiece, I also made Curried Vegetable and Chickpea Stew. It was so good I forgot to photograph it for all of you, but just go to the link and try the recipe out! I forgot to add the coconut milk at the end, but without it was still delicious and a satisfying protein filled meatless meal!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I am off to Iowa tomorrow morning for Kyle's rugby play offs. Here's to hoping there are some decent places to run. Keep fueling strong this weekend!

Month of Gratitude:
Many people write on Facebook about what they are thankful for throughout the month of November. I thought I'd do the same with my blog. Every post I will post something different throughout the month.

Today I am thankful for my husband and his positive outlook on life. He helps me see the best in every situation, and has helped me to worry less about the uncontrollables in life. He may not realize it, but he inspires me every day!