Lessons From My 1st Marathon

Coming from a very active background with a mother who once ran over 100 miles during a 24-hour race, a marathon was never really a “bucket list” item for me.  I knew one day I would run a marathon but it never seemed like a big deal.  In fact, I still forget that it is completely insane to willingly decide (and pay) to run for 4 hours on end.

But after paying a $100 entry fee, giving up the better part of my Saturdays to train, and learning every single hill in the Atlanta area, I completed my first marathon!  Even though I was mentally and physically prepared to run 26.2 miles, running a marathon is basically a right of passage in my family, so I never expected the overwhelming sense of accomplishment I experienced post-race.

Since I began training and especially since I’ve finished, I’ve had so many people ask me, “How do you do it?! How can you run for 4 hours and not stop?” or more often, “I could never do that.”

The one lesson I learned from my marathon training that has honestly helped me prosper in my career and in my life is the simple concept of dedication.  When I decided to run a marathon, that was it – there was no turning back.  I had made the decision.  When I decided I needed to run 15 miles on Saturday so I’d be on track for my race, I went out and did it without making any excuses.  Or when I decided that I had to wake up at 5am to get a run in because my schedule that day didn’t allow it anywhere else, I did it.

I talk about dedication a lot on this blog especially with regards to living a healthy lifestyle.  It is so easy to make excuses in today’s world with all of the distractions around us.  We are all too busy, there will always be sweets around the office, and there will always be people tempting you with something more fun or more delicious.  Just like my marathon, choosing the vegetables over the fries or going for a walk instead of watching another episode of your favorite TV show is a decision.  And once the decision is made, that’s it!

So yes, I believe that anyone can run a marathon.  All it takes is the decision to do it and the commitment that you won’t waiver from yourself.

744562-1248-0011s

Speaking of my family being total bad ass runners, check out my cousin’s blog here.  He is training for his first 100-mile race and has some amazing stories about his life as a runner.

Tagged , , , , ,

Merry Christmas Y’all!

Why did I say that? I don’t even have an accent (so I’ve been told) despite having lived in the South for basically my entire life.  I can’t even fake a good Southern accent.  I really wish I could, but I’ll worry about perfecting my British accent before I work on anything else.  A solid, believable British accent will take you very far in a city where “y’all” is a common part of the local dialect.

I thought I would make a quick post to show you my Christmas breakfast.  Eating healthy through the holidays is actually really easy when you are single and don’t travel to visit family.  So basically, if you are trying to not put on the holiday pounds, just break up with your significant other and avoid your family.  Simple as that!

Image

So here you have it – my standard breakfast that I eat every day.  Usually I’ll drink the coffee as I am getting ready for work and make an avocado sandwich as I run out the door.  As a Christmas treat, I decided to add some fat-free Greek yogurt with blackberries as a side.  If you haven’t had avocado on toast (with a sprinkle of sea salt), you need to try it ASAP.  It is the perfect blend of textures with the creamy avocado and the crispy toast and legitimately tastes like heaven.

Anyways, I hope y’all are having an amazing Christmas!  Cheers mate! x

(see what I did there?)

Tagged , ,

Is this thing on?

<tap tap>

Hi. Hello. Is this thing on?

My name is Sarah and I used to frequent this place.  Just like Cheers, you know?  This was my neighborhood spot.  But I got a job, filled my days with work, and the longer I went without visiting my friends, the harder it was to come back.

But here I am, back at the old stomping grounds…

…and I can’t wait to catch up with you.

Goodnight.

<drops mic>
<walks off stage>
<cue smoke machine and pyrotechnics>

Time is Money

Well, maybe in business.  But my theory is that the less I take care of my body with food and exercise, the more money I’ll spend on trying to fix it with medications and doctor visits.  Just my theory – take it or go to another blog.

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how I “find time” to cook for myself at every meal. Apparently, this is an issue for a lot of people so I thought I would touch on it a bit.

Let me just make something clear first.  I don’t cook at every meal.  I am a big advocate of cooking food in bulk.  I probably learned this from my mom considering she only knows how to cook for 7 or more.  Not to mention, it is hard to cook for one person.  No recipe on the planet is designed for one serving and I definitely can not be bothered to do long division when I’m elbow deep in ground beef.  I usually set aside about 2-3 hours during one day of the week to get my cooking done.  It will take a little practice, but eventually you will be able to bust out a week’s worth of dinners in about 2 hours.  Here’s a little insight to what those 2 hours might look like for me in order of how I complete them:

  1. I pre-heat the oven to desired temperature (I cook everything on 400 degrees to save time).  While it’s heating up, I go ahead and season, cut, and prep my meat.  This whole process takes about 10 minutes
  2. Once I throw the meat in the oven, I know I have about 30 minutes or so (depending on what I’m cooking) before it will be done.  During this time, I chop all my veggies.  I like to dice up raw onions and peppers so I can throw them in my omelets even when I’m sleep cooking or slice cucumbers ready for munching.
  3. I toss all the veggies I want to keep raw into tupperwares and throw it in the fridge (put the veggies you will use together in the same container to save space and time).  Anything I am prepping for cooking goes to the side.  Once the meat is done cooking, it definitely needs to cool off before storing.  While it’s cooling, I go ahead and cook my veggies.  Good thing the oven is already hot so this will take no time at all!
  4. The last thing I prep while my meat is cooling and my veggies are cooking are any snacks or condiments I might need for my meals – my “quick foods.”  This includes little snack bags of homemade dressings to throw in my lunch box with my salads, portioned out bags of almonds, or anything else I plan on having ready to go when I am running short on time.  (By the way, tuna salad is an amazingly quick protein source you can whip up in bulk and have ready to eat).
  5. Usually when I am done with that, my veggies are ready to come out of the oven.  I pack up my meat, my veggies, and all my quick foods and throw them in the fridge!  Only thing left to do is clean up the tornado that just came through your kitchen.

For me, this multitasking in the kitchen seems very natural, but I understand it isn’t for others.  Hopefully this helps you with your time management and can make your healthy lifestyle simpler and easier to manage.

Tagged , , , , , ,

not-so-terrible twos

So my paleo life has turned 2 years old today…and we all know there is nothing worse than a two-year old.

Just kidding. That’s only true with humans.

To be brief, my two years of grain-free living, minus a few tapas in Spain (……ok, maybe more than a few), have been awesome! It’s pretty cool to know that my food choices have directly impacted my daily life! I no longer suffer from migraines, acne, or bloating and I’ve also successfully avoided the flu (without shots) despite it’s plague-like characteristics. My energy levels are consistent throughout the day and I sleep like a drunk college kid…………even though I have no clue what that is like……………………………………………………………………………………….

Yes, it has been hard and yes, it takes a lot more time to cook every meal. But it has been so worth it. I would rather put a little more time and effort into my day cooking than spend that time covering up my face with makeup, suffering from a grueling headache, or hitting that 2 p.m. wall.

Anyways, this whole blog is basically devoted to my ranting about healthy eating so you can get your fill of that anytime. For now, I’ll just say “Happy Birthday” to my paleo self and eat my coconut flour cupcake.

Champions

I don’t normally care for series of any kind.  I usually lose focus when it comes to multiple editions of the exact same thing.

Take Hunger Games, for example.

Book 1 – entertaining.
Book 2 – “Didn’t I just read this?”
Book 3 – OMG someone die already.

***Although I must make an exception for my beloved Gossip Girl.  I could watch Dan Humphrey all day, every day.

Anyways, this past weekend, I had the opportunity and pleasure to travel to Dulles, Virginia to listen to Sean Key and Auri Hathaway tell their stories and teach invaluable lessons about being successful in  their Mary Kay business and in their outside lives.

They were both incredible speakers, but the general theme of the weekend centered around the idea of being a Champion.  Sean Key kicked off the day by outlining the characteristics of being a champion.  All ten of these ideas can be placed anywhere in your life to be successful!  Whether you are wanting to finally keep a New Year’s resolution, land that job you have been dreaming about, or even beat the battle of the bulge, the Characteristics of a Champion can (and should) be implemented in everything you do! (I must warn you: if you share these secrets with others, you might find yourself amongst a group of champions, therefore not the idol that people aspire to be.  If you are ok with that, share away my children!)

So here they are, people, with reckless abandon for you to take and use and change your life with.  I chose to keep this as a list as opposed to draaaaaaaaaaagging it out as a series because frankly, it would eventually bore me to write that.

Characteristics of a Champion

  1. Champions win the victory in the head and heart before any of the work is done.
  2. Champions tap into their imagination more than their memory.
  3. Champions believe the risk of victory is worth more than the disappointment of failure.
  4. Champions have champion coaches.
  5. Champions know there is nothing more powerful than a winning attitude.
  6. Champions are motivated by the dream but made by the routine.
  7. Champions focus on maximizing strengths, not protecting their weaknesses
  8. Champions have unquestionable integrity.
  9. Champions go the extra mile.
  10. Champions never give up.

All of these characteristics, while slightly cheesy and cliché, are so important when you are trying to reach your goals.  I encourage you to go through this list with your goal in mind and be very realistic with whether or not you are showing the characteristics of a champion.

I also encourage you to watch Gossip Girl on Netflix if you haven’t already.

Tagged , , ,

Fat Head Revisited

I feel like I am having a bit of déjà vu as I write this, but If I haven’t mentioned it already, you all need to watch the documentary “Fat Head.”  The basic premise of the low-budget film is the health benefits one can attain from reducing their daily refined carbohydrate intake.    Despite the narrator’s monotonous voice and cheesy graphics, I absolutely loved this film when I watched it a couple years ago - not just because a “low-carb” diet is something I have always believed in, but because I felt like he made a complicated subject very easy for people to understand.  I think a lot of the reason why people struggle with nutrition is because they don’t really understand what they are supposed to do or why they are doing it.  This film made the low-carb case extremely user-friendly.

Fast forward about three years to today and the “Fat Head” documentary has been revisited!  Tom Naughton, the original director of the film, found it necessary to revamp his original stance.  After the filming of “Fat Head”, Tom continued to live the lifestyle he preached to the masses but unfortunately was a sucker to anything with a “low-carb” label, including all sorts of processed breads,  ice-creams, and snacks. 

(By the way, in my opinion, marketing gimmicks are the biggest reason why people fail to achieve their goals.  100 Calorie Packs ring a bell?  There is nothing healthy about 100 calories of processed Oreos or low-carb sandwich bread.) 

 If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know my nutritional mantra:

AVOID PROCESSED FOODS AT ALL COST!!!!

Needless to say, Tom has revamped his life and has since eliminated all processed foods from his diet.  This may seem like a small change to some people but is incredibly difficult in this day and age.  And it should be noted that this change in Tom’s life must have been significant enough for him to re-film a documentary that was already successful.  I hope this short clip leads to a full-length documentary because I would love to compare it to the original.  Take a few minutes to watch and definitely check out the original documentary, “Fat Head”, if you haven’t already!

Tagged , , , , ,

this type A goes overboard

I would consider myself a Type-A personality.

Type A

The theory describes a Type A individual as ambitious, rigidly organized, highly status conscious, can be sensitive, care for other people, are truthful, impatient, always try to help others, take on more than they can handle, want other people to get to the point, proactive, and obsessed with time management. People with Type A personalities are often high-achieving “workaholics” who multi-task, push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence.

That’s a lot of words.

Let’s just say I’m obsessed with structure.

I like to plan my day in time increments.  I like to organize things.  I like to make lists.  I like to count … anything (especially money).

So when I experimented with diets that involved counting my macronutrients (things like protein, carbs, fats, etc.), I instantly latched on to that sense of structure and …

became completely and utterly OBSESSED.

I’d like to go ahead and add in that, not only was I counting my macros, this diet also included a time structure for when I would eat.  I won’t get into the details.  That would probably bore you to death.

Regardless of the plan I was on, I find that counting your macros has a huge place in the health and fitness community.  Everywhere I turn for information, I see the same things.

Count your calories

Pay attention to your macronutrient ratios

blah blah blah more counting

Frankly, all this counting made me absolutely obsessive over my diet.  And don’t get me wrong.  I love to obsess about things.  I’m obsessed with flossing my teeth, for example (but that is probably a good thing).  I am also obsessed with anything Justin Bieber comes out with.  Also not harmful in any way.  (HE’S OVER 18 NOW, OK?!)

hey you! don’t even deny singing ‘boyfriend’ in the car.

But it was all I thought about during the day.  I was so worried that my carb/protein/fat ratios were going to be skewed for some reason and I would dive head-first into a metabolic meltdown toward the muffin-top abyss.  Every day was spent weighing and measuring my food followed by logging it into a program to determine my exact macronutrient counts.  I just couldn’t take it anymore.

I don’t know how those health and fitness people live like that.  It’s exhausting.  No wonder people hate the idea of dieting or getting healthy.  No one wants to look at their meal and feel anxious not knowing if it will blow their calorie count for the day.  The entire situation made eating a stressful event and it wasn’t even worth it.  The results I was getting were so slow and practically unnoticeable.

Anyways, I just wrote a ton of nonsense just to tell you that I am back to my paleo ways.  I enjoy the intuitive eating style that I seem to fall into when I eat this way.  I am able to be more productive during my day because I am not constantly thinking about the next meal.  It just works for my lifestyle and my body and I seem to get great results from it.  And anyways, I have plenty of other things in my life to obsess over.  I don’t need to take the enjoyment out of my favorite pastimes – cooking and eating.

Sorry for the anticlimactic ending to this extremely late blog post.  Just thought you should know what I’ve been up to.

Tagged , , , , ,

New Gym, New Training

Well, well, well.  After all my bitching about my tiny closet for a gym in Madrid, I have finally hit the mother load.  I joined the snazziest gym I could find when I moved back to Atlanta and I am absolutely LUH-VING IT.
Of course, as I embark on the Ritz-Carlton of gyms, I decide to cut my training schedule down to the basics.  Go figure.  Anyways, I figure some of you all might be interested in this so I thought I would post.

Day 1 (Monday)

  • 5-min walk for warm-up.
  • Deadlift – 3 sets of 5-8 reps
  • Rest 5 mins.
  • Leg extensions – 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Rest 5 mins.
  • Chins – 3 sets of 5-8 rep

Day 3 (Wednesday)

  • 5-min walk for warm-up.
  • Bench press 3-4 sets of 5-7 reps
  • Rest 5 mins
  • Inclinde Dumbbell Press 3-4 sets of 5-7 reps
  • Pull-ups 2-3 sets with body weight.
  • Rest 5 mins
  • Weighted Dips (if you feel up to it) 2 sets of 5-7

Day 5 (Friday)

  • Squats 3 sets of 5-7 reps
  • Rest 5 mins
  • Walking lunges 3 sets of 10 reps (per leg)
  • Rest 5 mins
  • Stiff-Legged Deadlifts – 3 sets of 5-7 reps
  • Rest 5 mins
  • Overhead Press 3 sets of 5-7 reps

You’ll notice that I am not really doing that many sets or reps in my sessions.  Not only does it cut my time in the gym practically in half, but it also forces me to load up on some serious weight.  I am not playing around when I walk in that weight room, ladies.  I am puffing and grunting right along with the men (which I’m sure their dirty minds don’t oppose) and getting stronger with each session.

I am doing these sets in a format commonly referred to as Pyramid Style. The strength training pyramid means starting with a lighter weight and higher reps, then as you increase weight you decrease reps.   Pack on the weight people!!!  Remember, the most reps you are doing in one set is about 8 reps.

I am also doing practically NO cardio.  I love a good sprint session at the track, so I still manage to incorporate that on the weekends, but I am basically limiting my cardio to a light walk in the afternoon.  (The treadmill queens are cringing right now, I can feel it)

This is still a new routine for me so I will keep you updated on my progress, but I can already tell the strength gains I am getting from this.  Give it a shot if you are trying to make some muscle gains, whether you are a man or a woman, and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Tagged , , ,

Recipe: Fresco Quinoa Salad

I had a few dinner parties during my last few days in Madrid and I was on the hunt for an easy and quick dish to bring.  With the scorching temperatures in Spain, I knew I wanted to bring some sort of cold salad that my meat loving and vegetarian friends could all enjoy together.  Trying to use up the remaining items in my cupboard, I came up with this refreshing quinoa salad that makes an amazing side dish at your summer parties!

Fresco Quinoa Salad

This recipe makes a large batch, perfect for serving at a party of 10-20 people

Ingredients for Salad:
2 cups quinoa
1/2 of one large white onion
4-6 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/2 of one red bell pepper
1/2 of one green bell pepper
1/2 of one yellow bell pepper
1 can of black beans
1 can of sweet corn
1/2 cup of cilantro, minced (you can increase or decrease based on your liking but I love cilantro!)

Ingredients for Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
juice from 2-3 limes (I like extra lime juice so 3 for me!)
1 Tablespoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of salt
dash of hot sauce

To cook the quinoa:
Combine 2 cups of quinoa with 3 cups of water into a pot.  Bring water to a simmer and cover with a lid.  Allow quinoa to simmer until all of the water has been absorbed (about 20 minutes).

While the quinoa is cooking, you can prepare the other ingredients in a large serving bowl.
Chop the onions and peppers and combine in the bowl with the minced garlic and chopped cilantro.  Drain the corn and beans in a strainer and rinse thoroughly.  After rinsing, add corn and beans to the bowl.

Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a small separate bowl making sure to mix thoroughly.

When the quinoa is finished cooking, set aside for it to cool before adding it to the other ingredients.  Once cooled, add the quinoa and dressing to the pepper mixture and mix thoroughly.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to chill in the refrigerator for about 2 hours before serving.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The great thing about this recipe is you can change it every time.  I don’t like tomatoes but my roommate loves them so he could substitute tomatoes for some peppers.  Or add more corn or more beans.  Whatever you like!!  Experiment in the kitchen and make this recipe your own!

Tagged , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,416 other followers

%d bloggers like this: