Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

My smoothie game has been wicked strong lately.
But I promise not to bore you with all the reasons why
Make this, and thank me later.

1/2 C almond milk (malk brand)

1/2 C H2O

5 frozen wild cherries 

3 ice cubes

1 C frozen broccoli

1 heaping tbsp PB

2 tsp wild honey 

B L E N D

Note: You don’t need to add honey, or any sweetener for that matter, to smoothies when fruit is added. The fructose in the fruit is sufficient enough! But this honey was local, fresh, and delicious, and you better believe I enjoyed every last drop of it.

This smoothie has all the goods to keep you feelin’ full and fine:
Protein (PB + chia topping)
Fat (PB + Milk)
Fiber (broccoli + cherries)
Carbs (broccoli + cherries)

If you’re using this as a post-workout snack, your body needs carbs AND protein to recover optimally. Don’t fear those carbs, Sandra.

Also- I know people are on this whole “fruit is bad for you” craze, and that is BANANAS. Those aren’t your people. Fruit is SO SO rich in phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are all GOOD for your body. As Americans, TRUST me when I say that fruit is the least of our problems. Added sugar? shoot, yeah. We could do a better job here…but don’t demonize fruit, I beg you.


Let me know what cha think of this recipe if you give it a shot!

P.S. THIS study talks about how tart cherry helps accelerate muscle recovery after exercise!

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Austin Half Marathon Race Weekend

Austin Half Marathon Race Weekend

Man oh man. It felt so damn good to be back in Austin.

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I have been reading “The Alchemist” (I know- I’m late to the party), and it has me lookin’ for good omens. On Friday, our first day in Austin, we ran into the UT baton twirler from when we were students who was TWIRLING OUTDOORS in this very spot. You guys. It was an omen.

I taught baton twirling in college, and I was maybe her biggest fan. Twirlers are a rare breed, and we literally ran into her, and then stopped to talk to her. Made my day. As weird as that sounds, it was an omen. Not sure what it meant, but it was a good sign- promise.

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We happened to be in Austin for two reasons:
1. Hope! She’s a friend that I met on instagram, and she flew to Texas to race.
2. And race we did! Pictured above, we were at the Austin Half Marathon expo on Friday.

Then we ate. That’s actually what we did the majority of the weekend, but I need to give special thanks to:
-True Food Kitchen
-Picnik
-Hank’s
These places were especially kind about my dietary restrictions, and the food was incredible.

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True Food Kitchen was so enthusiastic to help with my food restrictions. ENTHUSIASTIC. They didn’t make me feel like the difficult customer that I hate to be, and they were fantastic. They helped me craft my own menu item to suit my weird dietary needs, and I left feeling great knowing that the food didn’t contain the stuff that my autoimmune disease won’t let me have right now. If there’s something I can learn from this experience it’s BE KIND to the wait staff, and gently explain/advocate for yourself. Be vigilant. But be gentle, and people will bend over backward to help you and your health.

It was breezy and 80something degrees. We walked back across the bridge to the car and called it a night. Austin, ya look good.

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On Saturday, we ate at Picnik for brunch after a warm-up run, and had a very similar experience to True Food Kitchen- everyone was so helpful. Then we took Hope to see some touristy sites, like the Loop 360 Bridge overlook.

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And stayed hydrated via Juiceland. Pictured here: “The Rehydrator”.

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Sunday morning was race day, and it was a cool, crisp 55 degrees at the start on Congress Avenue. The first three miles were gradually uphill, but we were on South Congress, and there was live music. No complaints! All four lanes of the road were open for runners, so even though the start wasn’t in waves, there was plenty of room. I never felt crammed.

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I HIGHLY recommend running Austin without headphones- there was live music EVERYWHERE, and I loved the course. I stayed hydrated via my own sports drink: water, lemon juice, lime juice, and salt. I brought along banana slices with a smidge of peanut butter and rice cake in my spi belt for fuel once I got to mile 9, and it was perfect. I had previously been a tried and true gatorade gels fan, but I recently discovered that I’m sensitive to the dye that’s on the ingredients list (womp womp), so I have been DIYing my fuel instead, with great success.

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I wrote a positive mantra on myself for the race. I NEEDED this around mile 10 through the finish line, because those hills weren’t playin’. I ran this race because I paid for it, and I love to run. I love a good race- I do. But in all honesty, I had no business running. Let me tell you why:
– Shingles! I had the shingles virus, and while it was (almost/mostly) gone, my energy levels were NOT up to par.
-Symptoms. I had to go off my immunosuppressants to try to heal my body quickly from the shingles virus, and my GI situation was very touch and go.
-Training. My training for this race was very lacking.
-Rest should’ve been priority. Shingles + GI + a rough week of tests in grad school calls for ample rest, and 13.1 miles wasn’t ideal.

If you’re strugglin’- solidarity! One foot in front of the other, friend.

Am I glad I did it though? Shoot yeah. Can’t you tell? Honestly- I had the most fun.

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Hope had a really great race though! A new PR for a half!

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And Zack was at the finish AND a cheer station at mile 9.

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Afterward, we all went to Hillside Pharmacie for brunch, and I inhaled my breakfast and coffee so fast. We sat outside and the wind was COLD! But we had the very best time.

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If you’ve never been to Austin, you should definitely visit, but don’t move there. I’m planning on moving back one day, and there’s really not room for all of us to play.
Sorry not sorry.

Highly, highly recommend running the Austin Half Marathon. The more races I run, the harder it is for me to pick a favorite, but this race is up there. It’s not a fast course- very hilly, but the crowd is great, the live music is unbeatable, and there’s no place I’d rather run than under the sun in Austin on a 55 degree Sunday morning.

Keep moving forward!

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Mindful Movement, Trying New Things + An Honest Cyclebar Review

Hi, Friends!

HAPPY FRIDAY! Hope you’ve had/are having a pretty great week. This week has been a quick one, despite long days at work, and I’m so pumped about it because we will be jet setting for Dallas (again) this weekend to celebrate my sister’s 25th year of life!

Something that’s been on my brain lately is “mindful movement” and “try new things”. In my last post I mentioned that I had been taking barre and yoga classes, and I’ve been really enjoying them. I easily feel like I could be hooked for life. Barre and yoga break up the monotony of the work week and give me a challenge to look forward to after work before coming home and crashing. My body seems to be responding well to both yoga and barre (although they’re notably different), and I’m loving feeling stronger in my hips, legs, and abs, even mentally (thanks, yoga. namaste).

About a month ago in light of my “try new things” mantra, I purchased a groupon for Cyclebar classes. I had previously experienced Cyclebar as a charity event rider raising funds for cures to Crohn’s and colitis, and I knew that Cyclebar was a clean, welcoming place. When I happened upon a discount, YASSS GIRL! Sign me up! So here’s my honest, unfiltered review:

My first night at Cyclebar in OKC was a bit of a dud, but that wasn’t Cyclebar’s fault. I was INCREDIBLY symptomatic, but I desperately felt like I needed to move my body. Unfortunately, I was legitimately concerned about the real possibility of crapping all over myself and the bike and causing a scene, so I didn’t push my body very hard at all…but it was so nice to move. Since I have been feeling better after my infusion, I thought I’d redeem another class purchase, and I headed to Cyclebar yesterday evening after my twelve hour shift at the hospital.

First thoughts:
“Is it 80s night? Did I miss the memo about the blue eyeshadow and the leotards? I definitely did.”
The studio is bright and clean, full of fit and friendly faces, and there’s chilled filtered water with a spread of bananas and free glow-sticks welcoming me. I grabbed my size 6.5 black leather complementary cycle shoes, filled my water bottle and headed to the dark “theatre”.
I hopped on my bike and slowly started pedaling. This particular class had a d.j. and I was genuinely offended that he remixed Michael Jackson. Who DOES that? I managed to forgive the d.j. once he played some Sublime and Nirvana, sans remix.
I know what you’re thinking: Sublime and Nirvana aren’t 80s? I know. I know.
I feel old and thoroughly confused about the leotards.

I REALLY enjoyed the instructor. Katie was her name (I think). She gave just the right amount of motivation without sounding like an irate drill-sargeant. I spent entirely too much time wondering how she managed to get her fishtail braid so gosh darn perfect.

I felt like I kept up with the class fairly well, making sure that my resistance on the bike was within the recommended ranges as instructed by Katie. It took me a hot second to realize that I should’ve been aiming for higher RPMs, because I mistook that recommendation for another reading on the monitor and oops…oh well. My quads were burning, my heart was pumping, and I was sweating like a very fat man in a very hot and crowded room.

My sweat towel dropped on the floor, but I can’t reach it. My feet are strapped in, and I can’t get them out.

Mid-class:
BORED SO BORED.  30 minutes in and I AM STILL ON THIS EFFING BIKE.
Epiphany: cycling isn’t for me.  I think in my earlier twenties I thought that I needed intense, push-it-to-the-limit workouts, but I don’t feel like I need that right now, and I get a special kind of anxiety in a dark room with really loud club music while my feet are literally strapped onto a bike that I know I am too clumsy to actually appreciate.
I notice the discomfort concerning my feet being strapped in is crescendoing into full-blown panic, and about that time, my calves and feet begin to slowly, ever so slowly, cramp.

By the end of the class both of my feet and calves are completely cramped- definitely should’ve had more water in the last 24 hours.  I can’t get my feet off of the darn bike because of the shoes being clipped in, so I just decide to leave my shoes in the pedals. Screw it. I un-velcro myself to sweet, sweet freedom, and I hop off the bike to stretch with the class. My shoes are still pedaling along slowly on the bike without me in my periphery.

After we are done stretching, I drop to my knees and physically wrestle with the pedals and the shoes. I know what you’re thinking: it really can’t be that hard to get the shoes unclipped, Stacey. And I agree. It shouldn’t be this hard. CLEARLY I AM DOING SOMETHING WRONG. Brad (not sure if that’s his name) comes over about that time and helps me unclip my rental shoes from the bike pedals, smiling patiently.
“Oh I see! So it’s just like skiing?” I say.
“YES! Exactly- it’s just like skis!” Brad concurs.
But in real life I have only been skiing twice, and I can’t even manage to clip my shoes in and out of skis either. I am such a fraud.

I grab my purse, keys, and RX Bar out of my (really clean) locker and immediately reach for the bananas for some much-needed potassium and magnesium, and I head to my car. I’m thankful that I am experiencing new forms of movement, and I will happily return to Cyclebar in a week or two to fulfill my groupon purchase…but I won’t be committing to a membership (which is quite an investment anyway).
It’s not you, Cyclebar, it’s me. And I am not a cyclist.

Cyclebar is for you if: 
-you like friendly people, and you don’t mind them greeting you
-you aren’t working out alone (this place is a little awkward to come solo. It feels very happy hour-esque)
-you like clean showers, restrooms, lockers, etc.
-you like fun, themed workouts (e.g. 80s night, Madonna Concert Series, etc.)
-you’re cool with instructors yelling at you through a microphone
-you don’t get offended by 90s music at 80s night
-you want a really good cardio workout with fun resistance thrown into the mix
-you like to sweat like a mofo
-you like to track your improvements (stats are emailed to you after each class!)
-bananas

By trying new forms of movement I’ve discovered that while I don’t like spin classes all that much, I’m 100% on team yoga and barre, which have been excellent cross-training for my one true love: running. My runs have been faster, and my hips don’t feel tight for the first time maybe ever. The pain that used to plague my right IT band isn’t there (although to be fair, I’m running short distances currently).  Yoga and barre are both challenging in very different ways, and I love knowing that I’m growing and changing with each class.

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^this morning’s tempo run, 35 degrees and beautiful.

I’m not a person who easily falls into and appreciates routine; I’m all over the place. I run because I can, and because it has always challenged me. Knowing that I have completed a training regimen and raced is such a feeling of accomplishment. But recently I began to feel guilty once I realized that I wasn’t looking forward to my runs, staring back at my calendar with dread instead of excitement over training for new races. I knew this needed to change (because I want to want to run, ya know?), and thankfully, I still VERY MUCH love running. I simply needed newness to break up the monotony. I needed to know that I was capable of being strong in other ways, and thankfully, this has made me a stronger runner, too. Life has been exponentially more flavorful and fun simply by listening to my body, satisfying it with the form of movement that it has been craving, and watching it respond accordingly. I’m thankful to be on the up and up.

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Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to run some errands after chowing down on this very non-instagram worthy picture of my very purposeful and fueling food choice for this morning.

Go have a good weekend 🙂 Keep moving forward.

xo, Stacey

 

 

Questions:
How do you break up the work week or workout monotony? 
Do you appreciate routine, or do you you like to switch it up? 
Do you like bananas? How about pina coladas? Getting caught in the rain?

Lately

Lately

Hey, friends!

How on Earth have ya been?! I’ve been MIA, even through the holidays but not completely without good reason. Wanna catch up?

For starters:

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Is it gross to use an iPhone in a public restroom? Yes, yes it is. 

I started having a mega-flare around Thanksgiving thanks to my doctor’s office staff forgetting to send documents to the insurance company, resulting in the insurance company denying my remicade infusions (you know, the ones that my life literally depend on) and further delaying any forthcoming infusions.

The more time lapsed between infusions, life.got.real.

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A trip to the ER for dehydration in January, and I learned that hospitals no longer even carry my infusion medication because of cost, so that killed my hopes and dreams of receiving an emergency infusion. Back on the steroids we go (kicking and screaming- if you’ve ever been on the ‘roids I know you understand!). I called the doc to update his staff on my change in medical status/recent trip to the ER/weight loss from crapping blood constantly (sorry-x-rated), and received a “what do you expect us to do for you?” response, which resulted in me finding another doctor in.a.hurry.

My new doc was furious about my exacerbated symptoms to say the least (we are starting over, from ground zero and it is a lot of time-intensive, hard work). She prescribed me more oral meds to help my body not reject the infusion since it has been so long without the medication. Within three business days, the new doc had my insurance giving the green light for infusions for the rest of the year. MIRACLES! Ya girl finally got an infusion, only a month past due. But I won’t be without any future infusions this year. PRAISE HANDS!

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My new infusion center is located at my new doctor’s office in Dallas, three hours of a drive from where I live in OKC, but I don’t mind. My sister and best gal pal, Lindsay, lives in the Big D, so we make a fun sister weekend out of it. Here I am cuddling her dog Sophie while she’s at work, post-Remicade nap session and just after grabbing some juice from one of my Austin guilty pleasures in Dallas, Juiceland.

And if you know me, you know that infusion days= pizza days 🙂

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We went to Oak Cliff for some delicious pizza at Eno’s which was the cutest little area I’ve seen in a while (disclaimer: not all of Oak Cliff is this picturesque, but it’s on the up and up). We grabbed our pie to-go because, well, symptoms got in the way. And then we headed home to watch a healthy dose of Grey’s Anatomy and hang out with Sophiedog.

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The next rainy morning we went to a local barre class where we spent most of the hour huffing and puffing and laughing and feeling especially uncoordinated, then we headed to Mudsmith for post-workout coffee and conversation. I think Lindsay hated me a little for signing us up for barre (oops). Then I headed back to OKC for a biochemistry test.

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Which about brings us up to speed for this week! We had our first ice storm since I moved her a year ago:

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Y’all. I have never driven in ice. It was a big grown-up deal for ya girl.

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But I made it to work and back home all week just like a pro!

And today I wore sandals and a tank top to yoga class, because it’s sixty degrees again and life is good!

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I realize now that I should’ve allowed myself to be vulnerable and open during the depths of this past flare; it could’ve helped someone. When symptoms rage and I start to panic, I have a difficult time vocalizing and making sense of my thoughts. I even have somewhat of a guilty conscience for fear of sounding too negative and “debbie downer” but that’s real life! Chronic disease is a tough dragon to tame at times, but if you’re going through something similar, hang in there. Know that you may have to make sacrifices (e.g. sleep, meds, dietary changes, more exercise, eliminating stress, etc) but you and your health are worth it all.

I’m still not out of the woods; I am still fighting through symptoms, and if I think too much about where I’ve been and how it feels like I’ve taken three steps backward right now, I get bummed. But I’m not letting this flare get to me like the others, and I refuse to sit on my couch stagnant and sad (not that there’s anything wrong with that! Couches can be great for healing with a healthy dose of some Netflix, but it’s not what I need right now). For starters, I signed up for yoga (I’m really bad at it), but y’all, I LOVE it.

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The facility also offers barre and pilates, and I find it’s just the right speed to make me stronger without feeling like I’m having a near-death experience while exercising. I’ve also started running again.

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Self-timer took this pic after yesterday’s quick little one mile run because I felt strong. 9.56″ pace for a one mile up and down some little hills and over puddles of melted ice, and it was exactly what I needed. Starting from the bottom can be so scary and disheartening, but honestly. What is worse than being stuck at the bottom? Nothing. So I’m climbing my way up and up again, doing the things I love as often as I can, listening to my body, eating good food, trying new things, experimenting with new recipes, and finding joy in the journey.

Hope you’re finding joy in your journey, wherever you are! It’s so good to be back. xo

-Stacey

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P.S. These banana muffins are the stuff of dreams. Recipe is from Caroline’s Kitchen!

Let Them Eat Carbs!

Let Them Eat Carbs!

I read something infuriating today.

It was one of those “Daily Mail” articles from SnapChat- I know, it’s basically tabloids a la social media; not my proudest moment. This article was about how Kim Kardashian has been sweating her way to redemption from those thong bikini pictures. (disclaimer: I don’t even know the difference between the Kardashians, so I had to google “Which one is Kim?”)

The article angered me, nonetheless- “unflattering” bikini photos? Were the photos so bad that Kim needed to dedicate her life after vacation to living the photos down and THEN we needed to publish an article about it? I mean, c’mon, people. We have got to get away from the body-shaming rhetoric. Make. it. stop. Could we not have written about her confidence in her bikini? How she was proud of her body while on vacation? How she was spending time with people she loved? Nope.

But what really got my blood boiling was that the article quoted that she is eating “absolutely no carbs.” And I hear so often from people around me about how they’ve “cut out carbs” and I just need to lay some truth.

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YOU NEED CARBS.
Normal recommendations are about 3-5 grams per kilogram of body weight per day (or 45-55% of your diet). If you’re active, make that 8-10 grams/kilogram, or 55-65% of your diet. Runners especially need carbohydrates, because the muscles are fueled primarily through carbohydrates during endurance exercise.

WHY do we need carbs? 
Because carbs give us energy! Glucose is your body’s main source of energy, and it comes from the breakdown of carbohydrates. Your brain and central nervous system need glucose to function, and so does your metabolism! If your body has enough carbohydrates in the body, it will carry out protein and fat metabolism without using the protein that’s being used to build muscle.

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What kind of carbs can our body use? There are three: starch, sugahh, and fiber.

1.Starch-peas, beans, potatoes, or grains (note: whole grains contain all parts of the grain and thus have more nutrients than a refined grain)

2.Sugar– you may have heard of “simple” or “fast acting” carbs. This is because the insulin is quickly released into your blood stream, causing a decrease in your blood sugar and a suppressed release of fatty acids from fat stores. There are two types of sugar carbs: Those in milk or fruit, which are naturally occurring, and those in sweets and sodas, which are added in a process.

3.Fiber– carbs are non-digestible and come from plants, like spinach, kale, lettuce, beans, legumes, nuts, oatmeal, fruits and veggies (especially those with edible skin and seeds). Try to consume 20-30g/day for optimal benefits. Fibrous foods will help with the feeling of fullness, or satiety.

“BUT I WANNA LOSE WEIGHT, STACEY.”
I get it- it’s true that if you have TOO MUCH glucose, it’s going to get stored as fat. So cut the carbs that release insulin into your blood stream too quickly (these are those simple or fast acting sugars). These carbs, like breads, pastas, cakes, and sodas, will slow down the release of stored fat. We want to burn fat when we exercise, so we need it to be released! The goal is to use the fuel that is consumed; not to store it as fat, so you’ll want to eat food that slowly moves glucose into the blood stream and provides longer-lasting energy, like whole foods and fibers (think brown rice, berries, oatmeal, or bananas!).  Fuel well! But don’t cut ALL your carbs, dear people- I beg of you. Your brain and your body will thank you.

[Please note: A cool thing about being human is that everyone is unique; some people may require less carbs and more fat than others, etc. It’s important to speak with your doctor or a registered dietitian before any medical adjustments or dietary changes.] 🙂

After a few days of practice over the last couple of weeks, I finally feel like I can *almost* jump rope without tripping over my own two feet. This was yesterday after ten minutes of hopping around. I’ve been trying to make working out less regimented and more fun- highly recommend the jump rope 🙂

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Keep moving forward 🙂

-Stacey

—–

What do you think of low-carb diets? Have you ever tried one?
Any recommendations for weighted jump ropes that aren’t made for giant humans? Having a hard time finding one! 

 

References: In case you’d like to read some of the articles that I used for this blog post: 🙂
http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/diseases-and-conditions/diabetes/carbohydrates-part-of-a-healthful-diabetes-diet
https://riordanclinic.org/2012/04/fuel-sources-during-exercise/
http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/types-of-carbohydrates.html

 

Workout Wednesday: Summer Solstice Workout!

Happy HUMP DAYYYY!

Today has flown by for it being the longest day of the year- I’m not even sure if I can believe that today had the most daylight.

I follow this instagrammer, NutritionStripped, and in her story today she discussed something interesting that I’ve actually been pondering lately. Workouts don’t have to be a big to-do; they can just be a good part of your day. No special routines are required. Stacey’s version here: No “Slay” water bottles with graphic tee shirts. No fancy notebooks to lug around the gym. Sometimes it’s nice to just move your body without adding stress to it- just move! Whatever kind of movement makes you happy.

I’ve been trying to be more mindful in my own workouts without making them a thing. For instance, a couple days a week I try to run without any gadgets or music in my ears. I love running with goals and looking down to see that I’m staying on pace, but sometimes it’s SO NICE to just move your feet and let your thoughts swirl around without being drowned out by some Kelly Clarkson (the girl makes great running music, y’all). Pure, undisturbed movement. Also, I have NO ROUTINE when I go to the gym- I know- this will make some people absolutely NUTS. But for me it works right now.

However, if you do need some guidance fear not! I have somethin’ for ya 😉

Summer Solstice Workout (that can be done any day of the year)
It’s a doozy, and it’s for the whole body
-1 mile, easy
——————–
-Set a timer, jump rope for 5 minutes (I use this weighted jump rope)
-21 air squats
-21 burpees
-21 high knees
-21 commandos
-21 lunges
-21 push-ups
-jump rope for 5 minutes
*Repeat 6 times
———————
-1 mile, easy

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Recovery smoothie with frozen banana, Vega protein, a few frozen blueberries, and water. That’s it! Oh, and topped with some oats because I didn’t consume enough carbs today.

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And here’s a selfie, because I have blueberry seeds lodged in my teeth and I didn’t even notice. You’re welcome.

-Do you like to have a workout routine when you head to the gym? 
-What’s your favorite way to move? Spin class? Yoga? Weights? Dance parties in the kitchen?

Race Recap: Virginia Wine Country Half-Marathon

Happy Global Running Day! I was a little sad there wasn’t a SnapChat filter to celebrate this fun day, but that’s okay.

In honor of Global Running Day, I’m hittin’ you with a little race recap from this past weekend. Lindsay and I go on a “Sister Trip” every year, and this year’s was Northern Virginia and Washington D.C., conveniently planned around the Virginia Wine Country Half-Marathon (my idea)- But more on Sister Trip next post.

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This past Saturday I woke up at 5:30, and I made conscious effort not to think about losing an hour of sleep by waking up in East Coast time. On a very positive note, I had zero symptoms before this race (remission is still bliss). The sun also rose with me, and by the time we were ready to leave the house at 6am the sky was colorful and bright.

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Lindsay dropped me off near the start at Doukenie Winery and headed back home to sleep (really, y’all. The girl loves her sleep and has no shame). I felt weird being alone in the corral to start without knowing anyone, and most of the runners seemed to be locals. I missed running with my Team Challenge people, but I listened to my music and stretched and all was right in the world. The weather was just barely under 60 degrees at the start- just the way I like it. The race kicked off a few minutes after seven (maybe around 7:10?).

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Around mile six I thought of a new strategy, “I think I’ll only run downhill.” We don’t  have hills like Virginia Wine Country where I live…and if I’m being 100% honest…I did zero long runs before this race. Honestly the one of the dumber decisions I’ve made, and I’m lucky I didn’t walk away injured. I know better. Kids, don’t try this at home. 

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The course was beautiful, but miles 6-10ish were all gravel/dirt and rolling hills through a heavily shaded area, which was a challenge for running. I loved the scenery and tried to focus on being present, feeling pain where it hurt, listening to the sound of my feet swinging beneath me, enjoying the view, breathing in the cool wind, being happy, and loving this time walking/running/trotting through Virginia.

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Even though running by myself sounds like a bummer, I appreciated the solitude.  I was exploring new places all by myself, and it was a fun experience.

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There were many horse stables along the route, and I wished I would’ve gotten a picture! “Horse and wine country” didn’t disappoint!

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At one point I rounded a corner and saw this little church. I couldn’t get over how enchanted it looked!

I actually purchased the race photos from this race, for obvious reasons. I’m a morning person, clearly.

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This race had more water stations than any other race I’ve finished. I’m not actually sure if that’s true, but it definitely felt like it. I didn’t run out of my fuel belt gatorade/water mixture until just after mile 12, which is a new record for me.

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At mile 12 I heard someone cheering my name- turns out it was Hope, a fellow Crohnie on the run and instafriend who I never got to officially “meet” but it was so encouraging to know someone was rooting for me to finish! I WAS STRUGGLIN’ (hi I think I’ll train properly for the next one).

Lindsay was at the finish line, texting me warnings about one final hill that separated me from the finish. I carried my empty water bottles like maracas, just waiting for that finish line fiesta.

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When I saw Lindsay I yelled, “Help!” and she ran through the finish with me for the last few strides up and over the hill…because that’s what sisters are for :). What a fun moment!

And then, just like that, it was over and time to celebrate!

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Destination Races always have the COOLEST medals! My medal from Napa is a wine cork opener, and this one had a spot to hold your wine glass- purposeful and humorous, my favorite combination.

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Then we went to the Wine and Music Festival on the grounds of Doukenie Winery. The lines for wine tasting were quite long, and I had already made the grave mistake of purchasing a breakfast burrito in a New England state (no offense intended, but that was not a burrito with jalapeño chorizo, I assure you). So we bought a bottle of wine from a local winery to drink by the pond.

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Bliss .

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My goal of this race was to enjoy it and to finish- and that I did. I didn’t run my nike app, and I didn’t wear a garmin to record my time. I simply trotted along in a new place in a sea of unfamiliar places, and it was truly such fun.

Race days are some of my favorite days, all thanks to memories like these. Races only last a couple of hours, but the memories are enough to satisfy you for a lifetime. There’s something invigorating and addicting knowing that you just tested some physical parameters and succeeded, and if you get to explore new places along the way, all the sweat and sore muscles are well worth the race.

And it’s always fun to defy medial diagnoses and run for cures and awareness while feeling a hight off contagious race day energy. I have experienced nothing more empowering.

Happy running 🙂 wherever you are.