Merry Christmas!

Hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had a good one and that all are enjoying the holiday season! Ian and I have been enjoying a fun week up in Syracuse with my family – one of my favorite time’s of the year!

20131226-173913.jpg

We got a white Christmas which was great, but one of my not-so-favorite things about this time of year is the cold. Now I can handle running in the D.C. cold, but up here in Syracuse has been a whole different ball game. Being the first week of training for the Shamrock Half though, the elliptical in the warmth of my parent’s basement wasn’t an option. Instead I’ve hit the streets in temps from about 30 all the way down to under 10 degrees. Burr.

20131226-174043.jpg

Running into the wind with snow blowing into your face brings a whole new meaning to running in a headwind! While I don’t envy people who have to run through these conditions all winter, I have found that having the right gear makes a big difference. Layers is the most important thing. For my chilliest run I wore fleece-lined pants, calf sleeves and wool socks. On top I layered up with a sports bra tank, my Oiselle flyte tank, the flyte long sleeve and a new under armor long sleeve meant for ultra cold weather that Ian got me for Christmas.

20131226-174054.jpg

I topped it off with a hat, gloves and a neck gaiter I could pull over my nose and mouth during the first few minutes when the air felt too cold to breathe in. Keeping my head and hands warm is the biggest thing for me and makes running in the cold much more tolerable.

Another cold weather running tip that has really helped me is that you should dress for 20 degrees warmer than the temperature outside. Your body will quickly warm up and feel comfortable once you’re moving. On top of helping me know how to dress better for the cold, I use this as a mental trick to get out the door on the coldest days. If I can convince myself it’ll really feel 20 degrees warmer, then it doesn’t seem that bad.

Do you run outdoors during the cold? What are your tips and tricks for battling the weather?

Advertisements

I’m Going STREAKING!!

Runner’s World run streaking that is.

I’m taking part in the Runner’s World third annual holiday running streak by pledging to run at least one mile every day from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day.

Running to the Finish

Running to the Finish

This is the first time I’ve done the holiday run streak, and I’m really looking forward to it as I’ve taken a solid running break since my marathon. Too often the holidays get used as an excuse to put off getting in shape until the New Year. This is such a great way to stay fit – and maybe even get fitter – even through holiday parties and extra sweets.

I kicked things off with chilly runs in Maine the last two mornings. I’ll be tweeting my progress with the hashtag #RWRunStreak.

I’m also doing a core streak too. I figured since I started the year off with more than 100 consecutive days of my P90X ab ripper workout – why not end with a decent streak too?

Have you ever done a run streak? Are you joining the RW Run Streak this year?

Healthy Through The Holidays

The Thanksgiving to New Year’s period is one of the toughest to stay healthy and stay on track with your workouts. There are parties to attend, beers to drink, cookies and other treats to eat, colder weather and less daylight hours to get a workout in. It can be really easy to just let yourself off the hook and say you’ll start up again in the new year. I’ve put together a few tips I use this time of year to try and make it easier for you to stay on track and give yourself a head start on those New Year’s resolutions to get fit and eat healthy.

Log It
Keep a food log. No one else ever has to see it, but having to log everything you eat has a way of holding you accountable. Studies show its a key technique for losing or maintaining weight. (Check out this study from the National Institutes of Health.) I hear people say they just can’t do this, but I think it’s more of a won’t then a can’t. There are so many easy ways to do this now with apps and websites that there really is no excuse. My favorite is LoseIt.com, which also has a smartphone app that syncs automatically with your web account.

I don’t use it all the time, but I think it’s a great tool to check in on occasion and get a clear picture of your eating and exercising habits. It lets you track calories in and out incredibly easily. You can choose from a database of food or enter custom foods in as well, so after a couple weeks you have most of the foods you eat just a click away. It also lets you log exercise as well so you can get a better look at the full picture.

If you do keep a food log, I think it’s really important to be honest, but also not be too hard on yourself. You’re going to have bad days and sometimes it’s OK to treat yourself. The thing a food log can help with is seeing if you’re doing this too much.

Make a Committment
Don’t wait until the New Year to start an exercise plan. It’s too easy to keep saying I’ll start tomorrow or next week, but then there will always be an excuse to keep putting it off. I love the idea of the Runner’s World Holiday Streak. It challenges people to run every day from Thanksgiving through New Years – even if it’s just a mile, just get out and run. If running isn’t your thing, try a similar streak with workouts at the gym.

Get It In Early
This is the hardest one on the list for me. I hate mornings…really hate them. This time of year more than ever though, things pop up and get in the way of plans to work out later. Despite my hatred for mornings, I always feel great when I have my workout done and out of the way for the day. It’s one less things for me to stress out about during the day.

I see these tips over and over again so I’m sure you’ve heard most of this before, but I hope it’s a helpful reminder. Good luck staying healthy and happy through the holiday season!

In The Spirit: Holiday Fun in D.C.

Last weekend my Mom made a trip down to visit for a girl’s weekend. We kicked things off with a Christmas cookie baking day. Thanks to my Dad for FedEx-ing a package full of all the ingredients we’d need we were good to go! We put on the Christmas music station on Pandora and made dozens of peanut butter blossoms, chocolate peanut butter balls and attempted some snickers peanut butter bars.

National Christmas Tree

National Christmas Tree

The cookies were mostly a success. The snickers peanut butter bars came from a recipe I found on a blog I follow, and it seemed like there might have been a liquid ingredient missing from the recipe. There was nothing really holding them together, so they didn’t make the cut and ended up in the trash. The others were delicious however, so I stuck most of them in my freezer to keep me from eating them all at once! We also took advantage of the leftover chocolate to make a bunch of chocolate covered pretzels. Check out the recipes below.

On Saturday night, we enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather and went into D.C. to check out the National Christmas tree. Somehow in my six years here I’ve never done this. It was of course, very crowded, but also very fun. We took a quick spin through to check out a couple of the state trees and then got up close to see the main tree and all the train sets around it. They really do a great job with it, and it’s a fun holiday thing to do. We capped off the night at one of my favorite D.C. restaurants right around the corner from the White House – Old Ebbitt Grill. It was a great weekend and a fun way to get into the Holiday spirit. Only 8 days till Christmas!

Peanut Butter Blossoms:
½ cup veg oil
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 ¾ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

Shape into balls and roll in sugar. Bake on cookie sheet at 350 for 8 minutes. Put in hershey kiss and bake another 2-5 minutes (unless you use peanut butter cups – they melt much faster!!).

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls
2 ½ cups peanut butter
½ cups margarine
2 cups confectioner sugar
2 cups rice krispies

Shape into balls and place on wax paper.

To make chocolate coating in a double boiler mix and melt:
¼ bar parifin wax
18 oz plain chocolate bar
16 oz pkg chocolate chips

Cover cookies, return to wax paper and refigerate or freeze when cooled.

Traveling

I’ve been neglecting my blog while I put to the test just how much I like to travel. I went on five trips in November, three by plane, one by bus and one by car, so it was a busy month to say the least.

Twins Game - September 2010

I took advantage of some rewards flights to book a pair of long weekends to Minneapolis where my boyfriend lives. Minneapolis isn’t anything like I’d imagined. My vision came mostly from Marshall’s descriptions of Minnesota on How I Met Your Mother. It’s a very cool, fun city, however I enjoy it a lot more when it’s not cold there! On my trips there, we’ve caught a couple Twins games; toured the Mall of America, including the aquarium inside of the mall; and checked out restaurants in different parts of town. Some of my favorites are The NookPsycho Suzi’s and Stella’s.

 

In between Minneapolis trips, I made it up to Hoboken for the first time to see my brother’s and his girlfriend’s new

NYC Skyline

place, and of course we made it into NYC also. Hoboken is small, but packed with people, restaurants/bars, shops and energy. There is nothing like New York pizza and bagels and we definitely ate well that weekend. My favorite pizza stops were Lombardi’s Pizzeria in NYC and Johnny Pepperoni in Hoboken.

For Thanksgiving I made the drive up to Syracuse. It’s always nice to go back home for a visit, but was especially nice given that the usual winter temps hadn’t set in yet, and we enjoyed 50s and even 60s with no snow the entire time I was home! My ride home was pretty tough, taking 2 and a half hours longer than usual while it rained the entire time, but my parents were waiting at one of our usual restaurant spots and had food and drink ready and waiting for me when I finally arrived. Thanksgiving was filled with some great food. My cousin cooked our turkey this year and did an amazing job, and my Mom made one of my favorites, a peanut butter pie!

Finally, I ended the month with a trip to Tampa for both work and fun. I got the chance to speak on a panel about mobile health at the National Conference of State Legislatures Fall Forum. I shared findings from a recent study on health technology that my company did. It was a really interesting experience, and I’m definitely intrigued by how this topic will affect our lives in the coming years. After the conference I headed over to nearby St. Pete to visit my grandparents. They spend the winters there and I head down every year to visit. It’s always a treat to be taken out to eat, go to the movies and lend my tech expertise. This year was pretty easy – I helped with a Netlix issue and added a bunch of pictures to their digital photo frame.

It was a fun month, and I do still love to travel and see new places, but I have to say I’m happy to be back home and staying put…well, at least for a few weeks.