Hell’s Frozen Over, aka, An Enjoyable Treadmill Run

Chaos, email flurry, meetings galore. Monday was a hectic start to the week, so I couldn’t wait to get my sweat on and clear my head. But only 5 minutes after I got onto the treadmill, I was feeling very ho-hum.

012914-treadmill-meme

Borrrring. This cold weather (as in, negative wind chills again this week) is really getting to me, and it’s tough being stuck inside all the time on the dang treadmill. Nevertheless, I grimaced and kept chugging along, human hamster on the treadmill, slapping my three miles out.

I had my scheduled rest day yesterday, which was perfect timing—I was working until almost 8 o’clock at night. Talk about brain dead! There’s no way I would have had the determination to run after that. I did have the willpower to stick with my new diet, though: On days I don’t work out, my calorie intake is pretty limited, so I have to eat very smartly to make sure every calorie counts to help me stay full. I went to bed exhausted, but happy with myself for stickin’ with it, even on a crazy day.

Today, I turned another corner.

Once again, I was looking forward to my post-workday run to clear the jumble of design, code, tight timelines and other nonsense from my mind. At the gym, I hopped on the treadmill {…again} and decided to try a programmed “interval” workout. I wanted to up the effort since Wednesdays are my “speed” days. After a few minutes warming up, the program had me run 5mph easy for a minute, alternated with 1 minute at 6.5mph. At first, I didn’t think the effort was hard enough, but by halfway through, I could tell it was giving me a decent workout; harder than usual, at least. For the final few intervals, I upped the speed to 6.8mph for the fast minutes, so perhaps I could have upped it a little more the whole time. Next time!

Now here’s the “Whaaaaat?” moment of today’s story:

I actually enjoyed the speed workout. The treadmill workout.

Is that hell freezing over?

Nope, it’s just the polar vortex of doom. Again.

But, really. I have been so sick of the treadmill, especially for easy pace runs where I just want to space out. Now I’ve found that when it comes to controlling speed, it’s much easier on the treadmill to push the pace (after all, you gotta keep up or you’ll, you know, completely wipe out and fall on your face). It’s also easier to make sure your “recovery” pace is actually on target, too. I always had a hard time doing speedwork outdoors; I was unable to keep the right paces, usually pushing too hard, too early, so I’d burn out halfway through. So, I think it’s safe to say I am now a fan of the old ‘mill when it comes to speedwork.

Yeah, yeah. I can’t believe it either. But the time just flew by, and I was done before I knew it. I even considered running a few extra minutes. Really! Then I was like, “Helloooo self, you’re on the treadmill, don’t you wanna get off by now?” and so I did.

Besides, I have 5 miles to bust out on the indoor track tomorrow. We’ll see if that’s any more fun than the hamster wheel.

Do you find workouts help you de-stress?
What are your tricks to fool yourself into {gasp} enjoying treadmill time? 

Healthy & Hearty Turkey Chili

Let’s sum up this day in two words: Chilly. Chili.

The polar vortex is back, but this time I’m arming myself with a warm, hearty chili!

Healthy and Hearty Turkey Chili

This lightened-up turkey chili recipe is super easy and quick to make, and will only cost you 200 calories per cup—yes, really! It’s delicious, and of course, good for you, too: With the mix of lean protein from the ground turkey, and fiber from all the beans and veggies, you’re stomach won’t be growling for hours. It’s the perfect bowl of comfort food on a cold night—whether you’re watching what you eat or not.

Healthy & Hearty Turkey Chili
Makes 10 cups
Per cup: 200 calories / 25g carbs / 4g fat / 16g protein

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 15oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 15oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 4oz. can sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 1 15oz. can chili beans
  • 1 15oz. can red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 packet chili seasoning (we use McCormick Original Chili)
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika (optional)
  • ½ tsp. oregano (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a soup pot over medium heat, sauté onion, bell pepper, garlic and celery for 5 minutes.
  2. Add ground turkey; cook until crumbled and no longer pink.
  3. Stir in diced and crushed tomatoes, mushrooms, chili beans, and kidney beans. Bring to a boil.
  4. Stir in packet to chili seasoning. For a little extra heat and flavor, add in cayenne pepper, smoked paprika and oregano.
  5. Reduce chili to a simmer, leaving the lid off to boil away excess liquid.
  6. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 20 minutes to meld flavors.
  7. Serve & enjoy!

healthy recipes - turkey chili - low calorie, low fat, high protein

Psst… Don’t let the toppings get the best of you:

healthy chili toppings: plain greek yogurt, low fat shredded cheese, green onion

Switch out the usual suspects with some healthier options, like a dollop of plain greek yogurt instead of sour cream (you won’t notice the difference), low-fat shredded cheddar cheese, hot sauce, or chopped green onion for some extra flavor.

– – –

What are your go-to comfort foods? 
What other kinds of healthy recipes would you like to see?

The D-Word

I won’t say it—you know what it is. That D-Word. It has such a negative connotation, and seems like some extreme, special circumstance of restriction.

The truth is, a “diet” is really just “the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.” [–> legit dictionary source]

As a runner and lover of food, my goal is to habitually eat a balanced but super delicious diet. Think: Fruits and vegetables, grains, leaner proteins, complex carbs, and, of course, the occasional treat. {Because who wants to deprive themselves of chocolate and wine all the time? Not this chic.} Honestly, I think I do a decent job of consuming a healthy diet 70% of the time, but it’s that other 30% of the time that I need to work on.

Do I want to lose weight? Sure. Yes. Realistically, I’ve always been one to see the number on the scale go up and down {and up and down}; but over the last couple of years, it’s kind of been on a slow climb upwards… To the tune of 20 pounds. My clothes don’t seem to fit the same. I used to love shopping, but now I go pretty infrequently. {Admittedly, great for the bank account!}

What’s bothered me the most, though, is that I think the extra weight gain has taken its toll on my running. Imagine carrying around a 20-pound backpack on your next long run. No wonder over the last two years {and many, many miles on foot} I’ve struggled with injured knees, tight hips, an achy lower back…and I’ve slowed down a lot, too. I have a good feeling it’s all related.

The Goal
My wedding day is 7 months away {!!!}. If there were ever a time to feel your healthiest, most beautiful, glowing self—I’d say that’s the day. So instead of crash dieting or something stupid, I’m doing this the right way: I am starting now, at the softish weight of 163 pounds, and aiming to lose 1 to 1.5 pounds a week, until I’ve reached a goal weight of 140 pounds.

But most importantly, I’m aiming to reach a goal to feel happy, confident, and good about myself on one of the most important days of my life. After all, if I’m giving myself to my future husband, don’t I want to give him the very best {and healthiest} version of me? I mean, he’ll be stuck with me for a very long time. Even longer, if I’m in such great health. 😉

The Plan
Like I said above, eating a healthy diet is key! That, combined with working out 4-5 days a week, will help me cut down on the flab.

In the past, I’ve found that using LiveStrong.com’s MyPlate is the best way for me to calculate how many calories I should be eating to lose weight, and track what I’m taking in. You can set up your personal account on their website to track your diet on. They also have an iPad and mobile app, so it’s super easy to keep tabs on food and drinks, no matter where you are.

A smart bonus, you can also track your fitness—so if I run 5 miles, it adds back the calories I’m burning. It may seem counter-intuitive to you—if you’re working out to burn calories, why would you eat them back up? Well, if you eat too little, your metabolism slows down, and your body holds on to whatever it can get… Not only won’t you lose weight, but you could gain. Keeping your body fueled {think of it like a machine!} is the best way to keep it revved up and burning fat. Plus, by not limiting your food intake so severely, you cut back on cravings, feelings of deprivation, and general sanity, in my book. 🙂

What You’ll See
Don’t worry, I won’t be a psycho and talk weight loss all the time!

I hope that when I do post about the trials & tribulations of losing weight, you find it inspiring and motivating. I plan to do a weekly weigh-in, to help keep myself accountable.

On a more exciting note, I want to create and share more recipes with you: Healthy dishes that are also delicious {and probably pretty easy to prepare}. If I can get my future hubs to approve them—the king of good ol’ steak and potatoes himself—you know they’ll be good.

And duh, you’ll see some yummy-looking desserts and a glass of wine here & there, because let’s be honest—life’s too short not to wine a bit!

– – –

Words of advice on losing weight a healthy way?
Any favorite healthy recipes you love?
Have a favorite meal you’d like to see me “make over” into a healthier version?

I’m no expert, though health and fitness has always been an interest and passion of mine. This is just what works for me!

Wedding Planning + Good Eats {Weekend}

How was your weekend? Mine has been great!

I started my weekend early, on Friday morning. I decided earlier this week to take a random vaca day off work. I wanted to take it easy while I can, because two of my two co-workers are going on maternity leave soon. Good timing, because one of them ended up having her babies (yep, twins) early…ON Friday! They are too cute.

I spent the day relaxing until lunchtime, then did some chores and laundry, and worked on wedding stuff all afternoon. Almost ready to send out our Save the Dates. Yay! I am also an uber web design nerd and am pretty excited to start making our wedding website… 🙂

Friday night, one of our closest friends {and best man in our wedding} came up to visit. We went out to dinner for some burgers and beers. Not sure if that’s the best pre-long run fuel, but it seemed to work out okay. Must have been the curly fries. Early to home for a movie and bed for me, while the boys went out.

I watched “The Place Beyond the Pines.” I had heard it was a great movie, plus it has Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper in it.

The Place Beyond the Pines

Yesss. Beyond the eye candy, it was a good story; not one that necessarily left you feeling all warm & fuzzy inside, but not depressed either—just thoughtful. I’d certainly recommend it if you like a good drama.

Saturday, I got up and ran my long run from hell. Okay, it wasn’t that bad, but it was tough.

After I got home, I showered, ate, and laid around for a couple hours watching TV and reading my newest book, The Kite Runner. I was beat. I finally made myself just go take a nap so I could get some energy to do something fun for the day.

Matt and I ended up going out to dinner at a new {to us} place. I got an “Old Cuban” cocktail, made with rum, mint and champagne {think mojito, all grown up}. The food was delicious: We had crab wontons to start, then fish tacos and stuffed grouper as our mains.

Fish tacos with avocado, roasted red pepper and cabbage.

Fish tacos with avocado, roasted red pepper and cabbage.

The service was great, but it seemed a little over-priced for this area. On the plus side, I felt like I could probably make both dishes at home with some experimentation, so fish tacos is on the menu for sometime this week!

I had really wanted dessert all day {specifically, a bug fudgy brownie} so we stopped by the store on the way home and I got some mix to whip some brownies up. Matt wanted vanilla ice cream, which led me to discovering this thing of beauty:

Haagen Dazs Peanut Butter Pie ice cream

I’ve died and gone to heaven.

OMG. My favorite dessert ever, peanut butter pie, in ice cream form? Yes.

Favorite dessert: Brownie Sundae!

Favorite dessert: Brownie Sundae!

I combined that with my homemade brownies for the best desert in the history of the world. Or at least, this weekend.

And this is the point of the post where I tell you that I am going on a diet this week. Haha! But seriously. It’s happening.

A few more things to be excited about:
I’m only a couple posts away from my 100th blog post. Woo!
And only a few Twitter followers away from 200… Follow me!

– – –

What should I do to celebrate my 100th blog post?
What’s a good movie you’ve watched lately?
Fave ice cream flavor?

Week 4 Workouts {Phoenix Half & Green Bay Marathon}

How to sum up this week? A couple good runs, a guilt-ridden but necessary skipped run, and an extra-hard long run to round ‘em all up. Read on.

Monday
Rest

Tuesday
3 mile run
Treadmill time. Ran 3 miles on it, climb-up & back down in speed, 5.5mph to 6.5mph.

Wednesday
3 mile run
Treadmill again. Tried a pre-programmed activity of “rolling hills,” which I expected to mean incline changes, but just jumped me back & forth between 5.5mph and 6mph. Felt strong; good workout.

Thursday
5 mile run DNR
My neck had been hurting me since last Saturday, giving me irritating headaches and pain that ran up and down my neck into my shoulder. Super awesome, let me tell ya. I was feeling out of it, as haven’t been sleeping great, and my neck was still bothering me, so I skipped the run. (Excuses, excuses.)

I tried to make up for it {at least a little] by doing lots of core/hip/leg work while watching TV in the evening.

Friday
Rest
I felt a little guilty for skipping Thursday’s run, until the afternoon when I realized my neck had NOT been hurting anymore! Finally. Taking the day off had actually helped, so I was glad I made that decision after all.

Saturday
8 mile run (8.02mi/11:27 pace)
Ohh, this run. Let me start out with: I am so glad I finished it, as it was yet another lesson in perseverance, and I won’t fall behind on my weekly long runs before my half marathon. I’m grateful to my friend June for running with me; she really pulled me through, even though she probably didn’t realize I was having such a tough time.

But man, this 8 miles was rough. First of all, we had winds at 25mph, gusting up to 40mph. It was 23 degrees when we started, with a “feels like” of 2 degrees. TWO. And the temps actually dropped after that, to below zero. So that was swell.

On top of that, it had snowed several inches overnight, so the roads were mostly not cleared—which meant we were running on a sand-like consistency most of the time. Two miles in, I could tell this would be a hard run, but I tried to push those thoughts out of my mind and just enjoy the fact that I was outside running, and not on a treadmill.

By the time 5 miles had passed, I was plugged into my headphones trying to tune everything out. Running on snow not only makes your legs tired, but it wears on your hips, calves (so sore today!), lower back, core… It’s like a full-body workout. Despite the cold, I was sweating under all my layers, and I was thirsty. Luckily, I had some cash in my pocket, so when we passed by a mini mart, I ducked inside for a bottle of water. That seemed to help a bit.

We kept trudging through the snow back to our starting point, but we were only at 7 miles total, due to a shortcut we had taken on a non-snow covered road on the way back. I was so ready to just be DONE, but June said, “I guess we’ll just run another half mile out and back, right?” Right you are… So we kept going, and got the 8 miles done.

Coffee afterwards never tasted so good. The warmth! We then stopped by the indoor farmer’s market, and everyone was pawning us samples. We must have looked hungry. I picked up some homemade veggie burgers and raspberry jam, and headed home, content, tired, and proud. Nap time.

– – –

Here’s what’s on tap for this week:

Sunday: yoga
Monday: 3 miles easy
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 3 miles tempo
Thursday: 5 miles pace
Friday: rest
Saturday: 9 miles {please, God, better weather!}

– – –

How were your workouts & runs this week?
What do you do when you have an especially tough time, or want to quit?

I just try to remember my goal and how whatever I’m doing will help me to get there—and how it will hurt me if I quit. Setting yourself up for success by running with others always seems to help give that extra push, too.

February 2014 Workout Playlist

The polar vortex is back here in Wisconsin. The winds are howlin’ outside and snow is pelting the windows. I’m already starting to think about my 8-mile long run tomorrow morning at 7am. Outside.

Is it possible to both look forward to & dread something at the same time? Brr.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for February to come (and go) so we can move on to warmer weather. Luckily, I have some good tunes to keep me going, even when my eyelashes turn to icicles and I think about how all other sane people are snug in their beds on these winter mornings.

February 2014 Running Workout Music Playlist

I haven’t posted a new workout playlist in a while. But, if you want some fun, upbeat music to run to and heat things up in February, here are my top picks for the chilly month ahead!

  • The Wire – HAIM
  • Chocolate – The 1975 {my fave!}
  • Compass – Lady Antebellum
  • Sleeping With a Friend – Neon Trees
  • Hey Brother – Avicii
  • Don’t Matter – Kings of Leon
  • Love Me Again – John Newman
  • Timber (ft. Ke$ha) – Pitbull {I hate that I like this song, damn that Pitbull}
  • Pompeii – Bastille
  • I Hold On – Dierks Bentley
  • Best Day of My Life – American Authors
  • Everlong – Foo Fighters
  • Anagram – Young the Giant
  • The Walker – Fitz & The Tantrums
  • Work on Me – Kings of Leon
  • It’s Time – Imagine Dragons

This workout playlist is a good mix of pop, rock, alternative, dance and country songs that will pump you up for a full hour. Enjoy!

Any favorite songs on your playlist right now? Share ‘em with us in the comments below!

Past workout playlists:
Fall 2013 Workout Music
Work It Out – August 2013 Playlist

Workplace Positivity + Treadmill Fun

We made it halfway! Well, for me, I just have one more day ‘til the weekend. Woo. At work, we’ll soon have two web designers on maternity leave, so before I get to train and oversee their freelance fill-ins and things get hectic, I thought I’d take a day off for ME. It will be full of homemade breakfast and wedding designing.

And maybe some wine, because my boss told me to. Ha. My kinda vaca day!

How has your week been going? Mine’s been okay—I had a rollercoaster of a Monday, which prompted me to give myself a little inspiration:

workplace inspiration

I was having a rough morning (for no real reason), so at lunchtime, I found these colorful & positive messages on Pinterest, printed them out, and hung them in eyesight. I guess it was just one of those days, but I am already loving peeking up at those peppy messages every day.

“You gotta stay positive.”
“Choose to see the good stuff.”

Staying positive and finding the good in things just makes life so much easier! (And happier.) 🙂

I had some good workouts yesterday & today on the treadmill. It’s been another arctic week here in Wisconsin, so outdoor running is a no-go. I’ve been trying to keep the treadmill interesting (and dare I say, fun?). On Tuesday, I had 3 miles on the schedule, so I did my usual climb up/climb down starting at 5.5mph, going slowly up to 6.5mph, and then back down. Changing the speed up and down by .1mph every minute or so helps me break up the run mentally, I guess.

Today, I had another 3 miles on the docket, so I tried one of the pre-programmed workouts on the ‘mill. It was a “rolling hills” workout, which I must have set up wrong because the incline never went up from 0 like I expected. Ha But, it did give me an easy warm-up before jumping back & forth between 5.5mph, straight up to 6mph, then straight back down to 5.5mph. It went up or down like this at every minute for about 25 minutes before an easy cool down. I liked the mix of easy running with a burst of speedier effort, it made me feel strong and the time went by quickly.

Cheers to the approaching weekend (and a very cold 8-mile long run on Saturday)!

– – –

How do you keep your treadmill (or other gym workout) interesting?
Do you have a favorite motivational quote or saying?