Tuesday 31 May 2011

{running} mental space

About a week ago, a friend of mine and I were talking about happiness. This friend had been sick, so sick that she wasn't able to run for a few weeks - a major part of her active lifestyle. It wasn't until she was sick that she realized how much her health, and her ability to run, contributed to her overall life satisfaction and happiness. As we talked about this, she brought up a quote she'd heard recently as she contemplated her situation, and in her present mind frame it really struck a chord. An avid runner was asked why she runs, and her answer in its simplicity, encapsulated how my friend was feeling, and how I often feel as well:

"I run because I can"

As I was running my half marathon on Saturday, this statement ran through my head so often it has now become one of my favorite mantras. When my legs became tired this statement reminded me of my good fortune in not only having legs, but having the health to run. With a friend having recently passed away from cancer, and one of my  Grandpa's having both legs amputated, I am well aware of the situations that can literally rip the running shoes out from under you. Next time you're tempted to skip a run, think of this mantra and your runners will soon be laced up and ready to carry you through the miles.

What's holding you back?

Do you have a mantra you repeat on your long runs?

Saturday 28 May 2011

Race Recap

Wow, today has been a long one! But I don't want to forget any of the incredible details of the last twenty four or so hours, so blog, then bed.

Yesterday afternoon, I ran 2.0 miles, then packed up, strapped the babes in to their car seats, and drove three hours to my sister-in-laws. That drive almost cancelled the race for me, as the rain poured down in sheets against the windshield (you know you're tired when it takes thirty seconds to come up with 'windshield') and visibility was low, I seriously contemplated turning our little party around and heading home. Did I really want to run 21.1km in this weather? Was I really going to leave my three month old baby for three hours twice in one week? Seriously? I pushed on, and about twenty kilometers outside our destination, the clouds dried up, my brow unfurrowed, and my hands relaxed on the steering wheel. Mental obstacle number one, conquered.

Then came bedtime. After undressing I realized that the watch I wear while running, and the only watch I brought with me, didn't have an alarm. Suddenly mental obstacle number two was staring me in the face. Should I go ask my sister-in-law for an alarm clock? It would mean getting dressed and I loathed that idea and waking my sister-in-law up. So, I told myself "wake up at 6am,"  turned off the light, and went to bed. Three thirty rolled around, and Elias needed a little 'middle of the night snack'. and I woke up twice more just for fun, then I opened my eyes to "5:59 AM" blazing in my eyes in the bright indigo light. Perfect. Obstacle two, done. 

As I got myself ready, pumping another bottle for Eli (he eats A LOT and I didn't want him to feel even one hunger pang while I was running), eating a banana, protein shake, and peanut butter sandwich, I fed Darius breakfast, and got dressed. In my under armour gear (cold weather top and bottoms, and socks) and sporting a lululemon top over that to hopefully keep the wet away from my skin, I headed out to the car. And my keys are missing. Obstacle number three, twenty five minutes to the starting gun. After a search of the house turned up nothing I headed out to drive my brother-in-law's truck, and found my key was in the ignition of my car. And off I went. Obstacle three obliterated.

With my number pinned to my shirt, I stood, legs bouncing, at the start line with the other runners. Being a smaller race, we were in a clump, chatting until the gun blast sounded, and then the crowd quickly began to disperse. The route was out and back, climbing slowly up going out, and therefore slowly down coming back. My first 6.0 miles took 1:03:00, which surprised me, and made me very happy.  At the turn around point I was 1:10:00 into the race. I took a mental run through of my physical state and decided that I could pick up the pace. The return route was accompanied by a head wind and rain, a chilly combo, and so I was hoping to simply pull even with my first half time. I crossed the finish line in 2:16:50, a full three minutes faster on the return, a big surprise considering I took a few more walking breaks the second half. This was my slowest half marathon race - and ironically the one I proudest to have completed. The mental obstacles alone were rough, the headwind and rain were disheartening, both my running partners I signed up with backed out, for legitimate reasons, three days, and three hours before we were to leave, and I just had a baby three months ago! Seriously, today was a good, tiring but good, day. And this race was SOOOO well organized, I plan on making it an annual event.
Just a couple hours after crossing the finish line, the boys and I were back in the car, driving home. I've logged a lot of miles this weekend, both on foot and by car, and now its time to rest.

What race are you most proud of completing? What obstacles did you have to overcome to get there?

Thursday 26 May 2011

Happy Anniversary

Today is my amazing husband and my sixth wedding anniversary. It's incredible to think that six years have passed since our party in an art gallery which was totally awesome with a mob of family and friends, celebrating the night away. That day was wonderful, and the past six years have been a journey, to say the least. We've had a handful of pregnancies which gave us two sweet little boys, bought and SOLD our first home, lived through complete renovations, lived with both sets of in-laws (if this doesn't stress-test a marriage I don't know what can! No wait, renovating a house can too...) changed jobs, moved cities, travelled, and grown closer together through it all.
When we were newly married, both of us were in good shape and physically active, but now we have surpassed what we once thought of as our 'best' as we have pushed one another and ourselves to grow. For example, I always thought a 5km race was the longest I could run. Seriously. Then, I gave birth - and nothing opens your eyes to the physical limits of the human body like giving birth. I hopped off that delivery table (literally), walked to my room, and thought, "I now know I can do anything." Three months later I ran my first 10km race. And roughly a year after that I ran my first marathon. One of the most important realizations I have had in the last six years is that we as individuals set our own limits, whether we acknowledge it or not. This simple idea has changed how I view challenges we have faced, and opportunities that have presented themselves. I've now decided that I have no limits, my capabilities are boundless, and whatever I set my mind to, I can achieve. I am trying to teach this to my children, not only in word, but by example as well which is one of the reasons I will be braving nasty weather on Saturday to run a half marathon roughly three months after giving birth to baby number two.
So, happy anniversary hottie husband. Here's to many more years of fun, laughter, and of course, running. I love you.

Wednesday 25 May 2011


The week before a race is critical to the performance in said race. Racing results, like most things in life, is all about the prep work! So, how do I prepare in my last week?

1) Active Rest: Doing yoga, using the elliptical training, going for a walk, or light weight lifting, replace my almost daily runs. These activities are less taxing on my joints, letting my legs rest up, yet they continue to keep me in shape and mentally focused for the starting line.

2) Hydrate: Drinking water, water and more water. I want my muscles to me as supple as possible, and water plays a critical role in this. Think about two raw steaks - one is fresh and moist, the other is dry. Which one has more stretch? Which one bounces back better?

3)Sleep: A rested body is better able to do just about any task - and that includes run. Why start out a race already exhausted?

4)Nutrition: Eat as clean as possible. The night before the race, eat complex carbs (i.e. quinoa, couscous, brown rice, potatoes, etc) and protein. Don't eat so much that you have a brick in your stomach, or that you have a food hangover the next morning. The key is to play around with food selection the night before long training runs so you have the perfect meal in mind for race day eve.


So far this week I've gotten in two yoga sessions (Jillian Michael's Monday, Hot Yoga Tuesday) and an elliptical training session today. I feel great, my body is ready, and I am anxiously awaiting the starting line. With my body all primed and ready to go, I just need to figure out a new babysitter for my boys while I run since my babysitter backed out...any takers?

Monday 23 May 2011

Clean Recipes Abound

I had an interesting exchange with a friend and her husband on Sunday. This lovely lady has been very courageous in the kitchen, cooking up all sorts of feast, and some have shall we say, fallen short. When the topic of clean eating came up, her sweet husband piped up with,"I hate Tosca!" (As in Tosca Reno, clean eatings poster girl.) I guess the biggest kitchen flop is one that promises to be healthy...and turns out like cardboard. No one will eat a meal simply because it's chock full of goodness, so here's a little round up of some of my favorite clean eating recipes (Darius tested and approved.) I hope these pass the buck at your dinner table too.

And because I'm me, lets start with a dessert! These tasty cookies are gluten free, easy to make, and soooo good!

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies *  via www.cleaneatingmag.com


Makes: 24 cookies
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Total time: 22 minutes


  • 1 cup unsalted almond butter, stirred well
  • 3/4 cup Sucanat
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3 oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa or greater), broken into small pieces


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, stir together first 5 ingredients until blended. Stir in chocolate.
  2. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and let cool for 15 more minutes.

Nutrients per cookie: Calories: 110, Total Fat: 8 g, Sat. Fat: 1.5 g, Carbs: 10 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugars: 3 g, Protein: 2 g, Sodium: 55 mg, Cholesterol: 10 mg

Nutritional Bonus:

While dark chocolate contains potent antioxidants, think twice before enjoying it with milk. Researchers have found that the bittersweet treat’s free-radical fighters may bind with the protein in milk, interfering with antioxidant absorption and possibly negating any associated health benefits.
Now onto real meals:
Apple Walnut Oatmeal

• ½ cup / 120 ml uncooked oats
• 1 medium apple, chopped
• 1 tsp / 5 ml cinnamon
• 1-2 Tbsp / 15 – 30 ml water
• 1 Tbsp / 15 ml chopped walnuts
  1. Prepare your oatmeal according to package instructions.
  2. Place chopped apple in a bowl. Add cinnamon and lightly toss to coat.
  3. Add the 1-2 Tbsp of water along with the chopped apple to a saucepan on medium heat.
  4. Cook until the apple is softened.
  5. Mix oatmeal, softened apple and walnuts in a bowl.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Yummy Egg Salad Sandwich

• 1/4 cup / 60 ml fat-free cottage cheese
• 1 Tbsp / 15 ml skim milk
• 1 tsp / 5 ml mustard
• 4 hardboiled egg whites, diced
• 1 hardboiled yolk
• 2 Tbsp / 30 ml chopped green onion
• 2 Tbsp / 30 ml chopped celery
• Dash curry powder
• 1/4 tsp / 1 ml sea salt
  1. Whip cottage cheese and milk until smooth in medium-sized mixing bowl.
  2. Blend remaining ingredients except egg whites with cottage cheese mixture.
  3. Add diced egg whites to cottage cheese mixture. Mix well.

Crispy Chicken Tenders*

• 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts weighing about 6 oz. / 170 g each
• 1/4 cup / 60 ml of oat bran
• 1/4 cup / 60 ml of wheat germ
• 1 Tbsp / 15 ml coarsely ground flaxseed
• 1/4 cup / 60 ml coarsely ground almonds
• 1/2 tsp / 2 1/2 ml sea salt
• 1/2 tsp / 2 1/2 ml white pepper
• Pinch garlic powder
• 1/2 cup / 120 ml water or low-sodium chicken broth
• 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare baking sheet by lining with parchment paper or coating lightly with best-quality olive oil.
  2. Cut chicken breasts into nugget-sized pieces, about 1.5 inches square. Set aside.
  3. Next, combine all dry ingredients in a large container with a tightly fitting lid. Shake well. This is your coating mixture.
  4. Combine water and egg in a medium bowl. Dip each piece in the water/egg-white mixture. Then dip each piece in the coating mixture. Make sure each piece is well coated.
  5. Place on the baking sheet. When all of your chicken has been coated and your baking sheet is full, place in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden.
* I revised this recipe a little when I made it, since my brother is allergic to nuts, so I omitted the ground almonds, and it was still delicious!

Black Bean Burger Patties

  • 1 small onion
  • 7 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 (15.5 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2; tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp Creole seasoning
How to Make It
1.) Cook onion with 1 tbsp olive oil in sauté pan until lightly caramelized. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds more.
2.) In a bowl, mash beans with back of a fork until smooth. Stir in cooled onion mixture, cilantro, egg, salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, and hot sauce. Mix well.
3.) Shape into patties and dust with flour and seasoning.
4.) Heat remaining oil in a non-stick skillet. Cook patties until golden on both sides.
5.) Optionally, top with tomatoes, sour cream, or guacamole.
— If the bean mixture is too soft to form into patties, let it cool for 10 minutes.
Give these a try, and I promise you won't miss the orignal versions! The cookies are soft and delicious, so start there, then head on into the breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas to broaden your clean eating perspective. I have many more recipes (sweet potato chili, yummy mummy granola bars, quinoa salad and so much more!) to share, but a girl needs to start somewhere!

What are your favorite clean eating recipes?  What is your go to pantry staples clean eating meal?

Sunday 22 May 2011

Sneak Peek

Today I was going to write all about some fabulous tips I picked up from Dr.Oz, but then something wonderful happened - I received the CD of images from my family photo shoot! I was so excited to have this CD in my hands that I almost left church two hours early so I could rush home and ogle at my sweet little family...no word of a lie. There is one caveat though; my amazing husband is out of town with Darius helping his brother (you see, he really is amazing for SOOO MANY REASONS) so he hasn't seen any of the pics yet. So I can only show a couple...or maybe a few...without further ado, here's my little family!

The father of our little clones. With how much he influenced our boys appearance, I am more than grateful that my husband is hot!

There are SO MANY MORE amazing photos in the line up, but I can't show all of them without feeling guilty that my incredible hubby hasn't seen them. If you're craving fantastic photos to display on your wall of your own family, contact Paul McGrath of PMG IMAGE and you won't be disappointed. Paul was our wedding photographer, and years later those images still bring every detail back to me. He's more than a photographer - he captures the memories so perfectly and brings life into every shot. Darius was having troubles the day of our family photos, but Paul got him smiling, laughing, and playing as if he hadn't been woken abruptly from his nap happily. I seriously can't recommend Paul enough!

Do you love to look at your wedding and family photos? What is your favorite image from your big day?

Saturday 21 May 2011


Have you seen the posters, mugs, books, sporting this phrase? I have a little red book on my computer desk emblazoned with this wisdom, and it got me through my runs today - all four of them. Why four you ask? Well, Saturday is my LSD day, and with a three year old and a three month old, getting a solid chunk of time to lay out ten miles... it's not going to happen if you're in charge. So, four runs it is! With a good mantra, even four runs is possible. Here's the breakdown:


Run One
Run Two
Run Three
Run Four
Warm up
Cool down
2.04 miles
1.50 miles
5.70 miles
Speed range
5.8-6.2 mph
5.9-6.3 mph
5.8-6.6 mph
6.6-7.4 mph
5.8-7.4 mph
I started my run at 9:00am this morning, and I finished the last stint at 2:46pm...mentally this was a challenge, but on the flip side, completing it was a triumph! How awesome is it to know that no matter the obstacles in your way,
Today marks the one week countdown to the race, and I am pumped.
Do you have any races planned this summer? What distance do you favor? Are you wanting to go longer/further/faster this season?

Thursday 19 May 2011

Mental Clutter

I am currently reading the book "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin and I love it! In an effort to eek more happiness out of life, Gretchen doesn't run from her two children and husband (a life I can relate to) but looks to the everyday happenings for inspiration and moments to be improved upon. I am halfway through this book, and already I've been re-evaluating my life, and making changes for the better. Currently I am organizing my surroundings to eliminate clutter, and create a more beautiful aesthetic. First I had to identify my 'dump zones', the spots that seem to attract junk piles, and organize them. Then, I had to identify the problem, or "why does junk seem to love the top of the filing cabinet/computer desk/shelves?" Going through these methodical steps has created a much more organized space, and while it is not done, I feel calm and as if I have more room mentally.

 Who would have thought that a mental boost was just an empty bookshelf away?

Which one would you rather have in your family room?

I highly recommend getting a hold of a copy of this book and reading it for yourself. Sometimes, reading another persons inspiration can be the source of inspiration you didn't know you were looking for.

I've been working up a sweat all morning as I've worked away at organizing, cleaning, and ticking items off my 'to do' list in general. I am looking forward to stretching out on my yoga mat this evening and breathing deep in my newly organized family room.

Do you have an inspirational book on your mind? What gems have you gleamed from its pages?

Wednesday 18 May 2011


After a family post, and a post about awesome deals, the work outs continue!

If you have been in a supermarket recently, you've already noticed the summer season hot topic being flaunted on the covers of oodles of magazines - ABS. And the question on many a mind is: how can I get me some six pack?!?! Well, if you're an Oxygen magazine girl like me (seriously, subscribe for a year, and you'll save a bundle!) then you know its not just about crunches...in fact, crunches are great, but no matter how many crunches you do, if you have a layer of fat covering those bad boys, your abs just aren't going to be on display. Even for us Mamas, you know the sweat pants and ponytail sporting sort, have a shredded midsection can be a source of gratification, and the sign of a strong and healthy heart. So, here's my tips for your ABS-solutely fabulous summer!

1) EAT CLEAN!!! I don't know how many times I can say it, but seriously, clean eating (i.e. no preservatives, sugar, or bad fats; and six small meals of fresh produce, lean meats, whole grains, and healthy fats) is the only dietary way to shed fat, and improve your health. Try it out! Here are a few books and cookbooks to help you along:

That last one is a suggested Father's Day (June 19th) gift! If you are wanting to eat clean, the easiest (and best for everyone!) way to do that, is to make it a family affair. Think about it, if sugar is toxic to your body, wouldn't it also be toxic for your child?

2)  While clean eating will shed fat, think of cardio as your metabolism booster. For the best cardio benefits, and the greatest short term gains, rely on interval sessions. Begin with thirty seconds fast, two minutes slow, and increase it each week until you are doing one minute fast and thirty seconds slow. Going at your 'fast' pace for more than ninety seconds generally means you're not going fast enough. And of course, I'm a firm believer that running is the king of cardio, so give it a shot!

3) Last of all, throw in some ab exercises to target those muscles, and develop the hardened definition you're admiring on all those magazine racks. Check out this routine in Oxygen magazine and give it a go three times a week.

Today's ab thoughts are brought to you by a three mile run - my me time brainstorming! It took me three tries with Eli's naps being uber short, but it felt great, and I pushed myself hard since time was ticking and I didn't know when I'd run out.  I love my runs!

What is your favorite body part? Are you going to give your abs the loving they need to become your favorite?