It’s not a goodbye…

Running and I are taking a break.

Not breaking up, not divorcing, no one is moving out.

We are just going to be giving each other some space.

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After finishing the Maine Coast Half Marathon with a personal PR and feeling the strongest I’ve ever felt during a race, this sucks. I’ve been back and forth and on various stages of the grieving cycle regarding this decision but I know deep down it’s one that needs to be made. Since devoting much of my life to running (hello, I made a blog and turned down multiple nights of pizza for it) taking a step back is far from easy. Running has unsuspectedly become so much a part of my identity that looking at a summer without it is almost like looking at my reflection without a nose. Still recognizable, but odd – and kinda freaking scary.

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Feeling strong running 13.1

You’re probably confused. No kidding! I haven’t been super transparent on the blog about my personal history. You can read a snapshot that I wrote of it here, for The Lane 9 Project. Sparknotes version: I haven’t had a natural period (one that came without the help of some kind of birth control) since I was ~16. That’s almost 10 years at this point. Though I know I reached a healthy weight in college and had what I’d consider a normal relationship to food and exercise, there’s no way for me to know if I would have been getting a period at that time. Sparing actual numbers for the sake of NUMBERS AREN’T IMPORTANT, I ultimately weigh 20 pounds less than I did when I graduated college in 2014. Over the course of ~3 years, I’ve slowly and steadily been underfueling. That was a hard pill to swallow, but explains a lot when thinking about why it’s taken so long for my cycle to come back.

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Celebrating PR’s at the Maine Coast Half

Amenorrhea is gaining traction in the media. (See HERE, HERE and HERE) Or at least it seems like it is. I joined The Lane 9 Project because I identified with its mission, have listened to podcasts featuring Dr. Nicola Rinaldi, author of the book No Period Now What, and have been following Tina Muir on her journey to get her period back to start a family with her husband. I found Robyn’s blog and she became a huge role model for me.

I had no idea amenorrhea was common. I thought I was an anomaly – some girl with a crazy irregular cycle that would have to endure the rest of her life with no real certainty whether or not she’d be able to have kids of her own. No one I knew seemed to be struggling with this, and we were all bandaged with birth control so it wasn’t on my radar for many years, either.

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Eno River State Park, North Carolina

Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (HA) is a condition in which a women’s reproductive system, namely the menstrual cycle, shuts down because the body does not prioritize making babies when it only has enough energy to keep all other vital systems running. A combination of energy deficiency (eating too few calories for the amount of activity or calories burned), sleep deficiency, chronic stress and overexercise catapult the body into a frantic “survival” state in which non-essential systems are shut down in favor of shuttling any available energy to those that truly keep us alive.

Why is it important to maintain a cycle? I have had multiple doctors tell me that I’m probably fine. That I don’t need to try to get my period back until I want to start having kids. I took the bait for years. But always wondered, “why?” Why should I settle for one of my body’s systems not functioning correctly? I had most of my hormones checked, and since they were within the normal (super wide) ranges, my physicians assumed I was fine. Funnily enough, I never had my estrogen checked until this year. What do you know? It was crazy low.

Symptoms of low estrogen via Healthline

  • painful sex due to a lack of vaginal lubrication
  • an increase in urinary tract infections (UTIs) due to a thinning of the urethra
  • irregular or absent periods
  • mood swings
  • hot flashes
  • breast tenderness
  • headaches or accentuation of pre-existing migraines
  • depression
  • trouble concentrating
  • fatigue

HA doesn’t just show up when a women drops into the underweight BMI zone. According to Dr. Rinaldi, she’s found that most women maintain their cycles at a BMI of 22-24, but everyone is different. Some women will lose their period at a higher BMI, some will maintain it at a lower one. Everyone tolerates a different level of exercise. There are thin marathoners who have kids – we all see this.

I just turn out to be someone who is particularly sensitive. Whether to stress, lack of sleep, overexercise, or undernutrition it’s not exactly clear. In some way, I think I’ve been experiencing all of this since I moved to Boston for my dietetic internship. I’ve pushed myself to work hard, talked about the benefits of sleep but pushed it aside in favor of building my portfolio and network. I used running as a means to escape and re-charge, but ultimately probably only made it harder for my body to rest.

I’m on a mission to get my menstrual cycle back (inspired by others like Brittany and Robyn), and I’m starting with running. I’m hoping that it’s not a forever goodbye. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to slow down, fuel myself properly, let my body realize that I’m not under attack and that it can devote energy to ALL my body systems. Then, I’m hoping I can start running (or doing intense exercise in general) again – while prioritizing sleep, recovery days, and always always always fueling properly.

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Pomegranate and Mimosa Donuts, The Holy Donut, Portland, ME

I’ve spent a good part of the last (few) month(s) generating mental lists like this and forging battles between the shoulds and should-nots.

Reasons Why I Should Take A Break

  1. I haven’t had a real period since high school. My just-measured estrogen levels are lower than that of a women in menopause and there is no sign that it’s going to return to normal unless something gives.
  2. Even though I’ve healed my relationship with food I can’t argue away the fact that I’m still 20 pounds lighter than my college-aged self and that ultimately reflects the fact that I’ve been burning more energy, however slowly, than I’ve been taking in.
  3. There’s no denying I live a stressful life, and running/training placed additional stressors on that, even though it made me feel good in certain respects I hardly let my body have a chance to “come down” for an extended period of time.
  4. I know I’m injury-prone, and I should devote more time to strengthening other parts of my running system besides the lace-up-and-run part.
  5. The fact that I’m so torn up about simply taking a BREAK seems to indicate that I’m using running for more than just joyful movement. I am hesitant to identify any habit as an addiction, per se, but I know I sometimes feel compulsive about running, have ignored a few rest days or had a little too much emphasis on the “active” part of active rest for the balance to be surely weighted in the direction of more is better. My logical self knows more is not always better.

Reasons Why I Shouldn’t

  1. Physically, I feel great. I am at the weight I always dreamed of and it’s comfortable for me. I KNOW I shouldn’t be motivated by the appearance of my physical body but it’s still a fear barrier that stands in the way of taking a step back. Something I will need to work on.
  2. I just joined the Oiselle Volee this year and was excited to become more a part of that running community. I know I can still be involved while running less, but it’s hard to make myself believe it would still be as fun.
  3. I freaking love running – it’s so accessible and simple and my favorite way to jaunt around Boston, especially in the summer. I feel so accomplished after a good run, and love pushing myself to become a better, stronger runner.
  4. What’s the point of trying to get my period back, anyway? It’s not like I’m trying to get pregnant any time soon. At least birth control sort of puts a bandaid on my low estrogen levels and prevents my bones from totally eating themselves away. Thinking about gaining weight as providing nourishing ground for a baby to grow isn’t exactly motivating now, though having kids EVENTUALLY is one of the main reasons I want to avoid infertility.

Disturbed my the mental war zone? Inner arguments like this were a constant during the worst of my eating disorder and even as I moved into recovery. Constantly battling, coming up with reasons why and just as quickly a reason why not. Letting fear hold the steering wheel for a little too long. Thankfully, my logic muscle is stronger now. I can step back and realize when something is not healthy – not serving its intended purpose in my life.

Even now, as I go back and read through the posts I wrote during my marathon training season last summer, I see a recurring theme: power through it. You are stronger than you know. Get through the mud. Work. Work. Work.

I never told myself to slow down, or even allowed that to happen. Rest days were written in to my schedule and I probably abided by one or two of them as they were truly intended.

Now more than ever it’s time to give myself a break. For my own health. For my future.

It’s a see you later.

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Shipyard Brewing Co., Portland, ME

If you identify with anything here, I highly recommend joining the conversation with The Lane 9 Project ladies. We would love to have you, support you, and walk with you (literally). I will be hosting events in the Boston area as an ambassador, but am happy and proud to come alongside any women in similar shoes as we rediscover and embrace our true strength.

Email me: hannahmeier25@gmail.com

 

And We’re Back.

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WELL I have been altogether MIA from this dear blog for far too long. The culprit? Grad school and 3 part time jobs + an internship .. aye aye aye. Good things on the horizon, though. I am officially done with the spring 2017 semester…. Until the end of May, when summer classes start. Anything to rack up those credits and get my cap and gown (and MS) a little quicker.

Though I have not been able to keep up with posting here as much, I have still been writing. For class, and for fun.

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Incase you missed it, I was so inspired by the work of the Lane 9 Project ladies at creating a community of support for active women affected by amenorrhea, disordered eating, and women’s health in general, that I decided it was time I shared my story. I’ve never really shared too much of my evolving relationship with food and how I was once in a very dark place. Much more on how my framework of mind and nutrition philosophy has evolved on the blog soon.

I’ve decided to dedicate this year to myself. Getting fully in-tune with eating and living intuitively. I am committed to getting my period back, for real, no birth control required. I probably won’t be fulling blogging the journey, as I want to keep some of this private, but I have no problem stepping up and acknowledging my imperfections, that I have ignored them for too long, and that it’s finally time to step up and take responsibility for my body and my TRUE health–> not someone else’s idea of what my health should be. Going to be doing a lot of reflection about what is best for me, hopefully getting a therapist to hash all of this out, and really digging deep for authentic self care. Anyone else want to join me on a journey of the same?

More news! I’ll be serving as the co-editor for the Friedman Sprout next year! Woohoo! So excited to be involved in pulling together Friedman’s bright minds and big ideas to keep the sharing of stories going. This month, I contributed a fun article about spring sports nutrition featuring everyone’s favorite auburn tuber, the SWEET POTATO. Cliche? Maybe. Tasty? Definitely. Read the original article HERE

That’s all for now, dear blog. My brain is tired and my body needs rest. I’m going to be doing a lot of THAT this weekend. What about you?

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Presidents Day Thoughts

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Good morning, friends!

Sorry I have been absent for over a month now. Life did it’s funny thing where you think you’re super comfortable and happy and then it pulls out the rug from under your feet and you wind up on your butt, sore, and wondering how to stand back up.

Not going to get super detailed here, but suffice it to say I’m finally feeling like I’m finding my way back to a routine and getting back to a happy place.

I also turned 25 recently, and after a quarter century, decided to ring it in with some fun

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Doors have been opening, and I recently started working for a wonderful little food company in Boston you may have heard of: 88 Acres. They (we?) make small-batch granola bars that are nut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and basically safe for most people with common food allergies. They also make a “seednola” from unused edge pieces of the bars, and specialty seed butters (chocolate sunflower, vanilla spice sunflower and pumpkin seed). 88 Acres is very responsible about sourcing and makes sure that all the ingredients come from single-crop distributors to prevent cross-contamination. 88 Acres is all about the seeds, using a blend of pumpkin, sunflower and coarse-ground flax seeds as the base of their products. It’s been very interesting in the short time I’ve been there to learn about scaling a small business with big goals, working with labeling and thinking about the future of food and added sugar claims, etc. What am I doing for them? They want to build out the nutrition library on their website to serve as a resource for their consumers, so I’ll be adding to that with blog posts and topic pages. I’m also establishing a firmer partnership between the brand and registered dietitians, because 88 Acres is serious about offering a nutritious, YUMMY option for people with restrictive diets and wants RD’s to be able to refer to them as a trusted brand in their wheelhouse. If you’re a dietitian and want to learn more about 88 Acres products, send me an email and we can get the ball rolling 🙂

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True hill running takes Maine Mountains (Pictured at Sugarloaf Mountain in ME)

Other things on my mind: to train or not to train for marathon #2. For so long, it was a no-brainer. Of course I’d sign up for another marathon. I had my eyes on the Twin Cities Marathon because the timing seemed perfect, the course seemed perfect, and I’d be able to get another trip home out of the deal. But as registration opening inched closer, I started to reconsider. Do I really have enough time to train for a marathon? These days I’m barely home enough to cook a solid dinner. With 3+ jobs and part-time school, I’m pulled in a lot of different directions and having flexibility with my workouts has been essential. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to add on one more big thing to my plate. Because training for a marathon is a big thing, and this time around, I know I’d want to take it seriously – get faster, get smarter, run better.

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Made history on January 21st in the Boston Common to march for women, science, facts, and common decency

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So on February 2nd, I didn’t sign up. I had until February 6th until the price increased, but I still haven’t signed up. I’ve been getting more comfortable with the idea of sticking to half marathons this year. 2017: the year of 13.1. I feel like I can PR this year if I keep my goals focused. I’m still working with Heather and have a training plan coming my way very soon to begin training for the Maine Coast Half Marathon in May, which I convinced a few Boston pals to train for and run with me.

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I just haven’t been running very much. 5-6 miles feels long, and satisfying, and if I went any longer I still feel like I’m risking injury. Probably because I’m not really running consistently. I think the major difference is that when I was training for the marathon over the summer, I would be running almost every day for about 30 minutes at least. That kept my legs used to the work of running, so when I headed out for longer runs on the weekend it wasn’t such a huge thing. Off-season has been weird. I feel like I took too much time off but then again never really got back on. I’ve been cycling a lot at the indoor studio I work at because it’s convenient. I did a 30-day yoga workshop in January and really stepped up my namaste game. Now, I’m trying to balance everything out with more strength and resistance training, especially since my IT band (I think) has been whining and I want to nip that in the bud as soon as possible.

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Miss You

So, next steps include getting new running shoes, breaking them in, and getting back on the training plan bandwagon. I am looking forward to having more to be accountable to – to stick to a schedule and train smart, since without a schedule I tend to mess things up for myself.

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(Lazy) Day (Off) in the Life // Jan 12, 2017

So I know this is kind of a weird concept, but I secretly love reading these type of blog posts and watching others’ “Day in the life” vlogs on youtube. There is just something exciting about seeing someone else go about the mundane routine of life, and often I’m inspired to try on certain things I see others do in their lives in my own. Nothing like some good ol’ social learning, right? Haha, let’s not make this more academic than it needs to be. I’ve been thinking about jumping on the bandwagon with a day in the life post, showing how I deal with life as a real-live-human and not some ball of perfection and still maintain sanity and health. IT IS POSSIBLE. Health does not equal perfection. Okay, end rant. Let’s get into it. Here’s a “Day in the Life” of me, one day after getting gum graft surgery. I took the day off from all work activities and thought I would be in a lot worse shape than I actually was. Oddly enough, I still haven’t experienced any major pain associated with the procedure. I just have this weird putty stuff over both of the incision points in my mouth that is there to protect the stitches. It’s gross and tastes like rubber and I constantly want to take it out, but I guess I’d rather have that discomfort than any amount of pain. I’m happily able to eat a lot more foods than I thought I’d be able to. This is cake compared to my wisdom teeth removal recovery a few years ago. Definitely do not want to go back there any time soon.

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2:00am-7:30am – toss and turn despite taking an emergen-ZZ melatonin before bed. Not sure if the asprin was wearing off from the day before or if I just had some unresolved anxiety, but I kept waking up and wanting to get the day started only to realize it was still the middle of the night. By 7:30, I of course felt like I could continue to sleep in bed forever but decided to get moving.

7:30am – Day 11 Yoga Revolution with Adrienne. This 30 minute practice focused on aligning breathing with movement via lots of sun salutations. I was glad that I decided to do it right in the morning, because it was a great gentle wake-up, and transition into the day.

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8:00am – Breakfast + Coffee + Gut Shot (this was on sale at WF so I splurged – I actually really love the taste, I’m on a major ginger kick these days. Plus I like the thought of getting in a few extra probiotics while I’m on this short stint of antibiotics). I went back and forth between doing a yogurt bowl and a smoothie bowl, and I finally decided on the smoothie bowl just so I could sneak some greens in. My mouth was feeling surprisingly normal. Like, zero pain. I decided not to take another asprin and just let it ride. I discovered that I can actually chew some medium-soft things (like sweet potato skins, perfect bars, bananas) so that has made me feel a lot better. I was afraid this recovery was going to be similar to wisdom-teeth surgery and have me unable to handle anything with more texture than a smoothie. Not the case!

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Might come as a surprise, but I’m really not much of a smoothie person. I definitely remember a phase of my life about 5 years ago when I would be happy having a smoothie for every meal of the day, but over time I’ve just come to really appreciate texture and variety in my meals and just don’t get the same satisfaction out of smoothies. I definitely need to eat them with a spoon and usually like to put a bunch of toppings on them to get that texture factor. I do think smoothies are a perfect way to get in a lot of nutrients when you might not feel like eating (immediately post-workout, as a breakfast for people with subdued morning appetites, or when chewing power is limited), but it’s important to think about balancing what you throw into the blender. Even though smoothies are great because they retain the fiber of whatever ingredients you use (as opposed to juices, where the fiber is discarded), blending up a lot of fruit without thinking about protein or fat will result in a quick dose of carbohydrates (and depending on how much fruit you blend up, possibly a whopping amount of sugar) but not much staying power.

This bowl of sunshine included:

  • 2 Leaves of curly kale (stems removed)
  • 1 Frozen Banana
  • ¾ of the container of Kite Hill Almond Milk yogurt in vanilla flavor (used ¼ of the container last night to top a sweet potato)
  • ½ tbsp. of chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • 1/8 cup raw oats
  • A little water to blend

Because this was a meal, I made sure to put in a good portion of natural protein and fat, poured it into a cute bowl, topped with a few easy to chew toppings, and felt very satisfied when it was gone.

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9:00am – 11:00am – Calls and emails. Started writing a bit of an educational piece for the Tufts Athletics department but got distracted by a call to catch up with my mom. After hanging up, realized I was pretty hungry for a snack and ready to get out of the house for a trip to the grocery store. It was a whopping 60 degrees today in Cambridge and the last thing I wanted to do was be stuck in the house. Also finished off the rest of this kombucha-type tonic drink leftover from yesterday. Again with the ginger!

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11:15am – Nosh on half of some lemon-blueberry chia pudding I had put together the night before. I added a sample packet of hemp protein so it was very filling. Ate the rest of the banana I had used to top the smoothie bowl earlier. Felt revived and ready to take on Trader Joe’s! Since it was so nice out, I didn’t need to take a coat and just enjoyed the walk listening to the audiobook version of Big Fat Surprise. Have any of you guys read this? I am behind the curve on this one but I finally decided to take the plunge since this whole saturated fat thing has been the prize of nutrition media lately, and back in October at FNCE an equal amount of dietitians surveyed in one presentation said they did not believe saturated fat was the strongest predictor of heart disease in the diet. OI times are a ‘changin

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12:00ish – scavenge Trader Joe’s and enjoy a rare not-so-busy trip since it’s smack dab in the middle of the day Thursday. This is good, because it’s less stressful, but also notsogood because I have more time to mull over “do I need this?” and end up saying “why not, you’re here just get it!” for lots of items. Including THE LAST BOX of Pumpkin O’s. PRAISE! I thought they would have stopped selling these long ago. I’m not sure if I scored the last box of the season or if they will be restocking soon, but either way I felt like that was enough of a win for the day. Walk out of TJ’s with a bulging backpack. a huge KIND reusable bag and a little bit of a hole in my pocket.

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1:00pm – after putting away all the groceries, I decided to get right into making one of the fun foods I had been considering whipping up during my time off. Beet hummus! I love working beets in to my diet, especially while training since I like feeling that they might be helping build my endurance (beets and beet root juice have been linked to increased VO2 max when taken regularly). I also love hummus. So this works since I’m not training. It’s also pink, which is happy and fun. The hummus turned out a little less bright pink than I’d hoped and a little more…. Cat vomit pink but I tried to put that out of my mind when I sat down to eat it a little later with the fluffiest Trader Joe’s whole wheat flatbread. These things are SO GOOD. Ate it with a dollop of Cedar’s Zesty Lemon hummus on the side as well.

I used the recipe straight from the Run Fast Eat Slow cookbook, but really you don’t even need a recipe to make good hummus. Just add a can of chickpeas into a food processor, add beets if that’s the kind you’re making (I used 3 of the pre-cooked variety because they were small and I was too lazy to roast my own beets), and add tahini if you’d like (it’s optional – sometimes I don’t add tahini and up the garlic flavor and I absolutely love it), garlic, salt and olive oil and voila!

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2:00pm – Think about working more on the Athletics piece but feel uninspired and decide to watch a few episodes of GIRLS while eating above hummus and flatbread snack. I recently discovered that I can watch past episodes of GIRLS on demand fo’ free with our cable package so that’s been happening a lot…

2:45pm – remember that I wanted to bake some bread/muffins and head back into the kitchen to get started. I open to the Run Fast Eat Slow ginger molasses bread and the recipe comes together super easily. I was glad that I got a knob of fresh ginger at Trader Joe’s and was actually using it because too often I feel like I buy fresh ginger and never touch it only to let it turn woody and inedible. Realized I did not have any golden raisins that the recipe called for, but I did have some dried Naturebox peach slices that I thought about using instead. I chopped them up super-fine since they are pretty dry and added those in, with a few extra slices on top for the prettiness factor. Pop the bread in the oven at 350 and wait wait wait. Watch some Gilmore Girls (the new one on Netflix that I kind of hate but can’t stop watching). Work a little bit more on the Athletics writing piece, follow up with a few emails.

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3:30pm – bread is done and out of the oven and I think I overbaked it a little, whoops! I of course have to try a piece right away and it’s very molassessy and kind of dry. Not very sweet, which makes sense since the only sugar in there is the molasses. I feel like it will be good as a breakfast bread, warmed with some cream cheese on top. Or maybe with some almond butter if I had any (oh no, more grocery shopping ideas, make it stop!)

4:00pm – Lay in bed a bit to take a breather and realize I’m kind of wiped out. End up napping for a good 45 minutes. Oops.

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The rest of the evening was a happy blur of making Katie’s delicious African Almond Stew, (which I turned into a peanut stew) and making my kitchen smell amazing, watching more Gilmore Girls and eventually enjoying the stew with a cheap bottle of Chardonnay + some quality company from my man. We went between watching the Wild absolutely CRUSH the Canadiens (HELLO) to watching the Netflix documentary about General Tso’s Chicken (so odd, don’t really know if I learned anything, though our conversation tended to veer off into the political landscape once or twice so who knows, might have missed some main points). Finally topped off the night sharing spoonfuls of Coconut Almond Chocolate Chip Talenti (girls, find someone who will bring you Talenti after you have gum surgery à keeper) and a whole bottle of lemon-infused water before bed. (nerdy me is excited to have another Talenti container to use for overnight oats when it’s all gone)

Yesterday was a verryyyy unusual Thursday and it is RARE for me to spend so much time at home, lounging around and cooking things. It felt so weird, and uncomfortable sometimes, to not have anything to do. I often find myself reminding myself to take it easy – that it’s OK to not be going full-speed ahead every second of the day. It’s OK to not be totally inspired to write an education piece today because one of these days I will be and it will turn out fine. I am so grateful for the yoga practice that I’ve started and maintained this year not only for helping me maintain physical flexibility, strength and openness, major support systems for preventing injury while running a lot. But more that it has taught me to slow down and focus on the moment. It sounds SO cheesy but it actually is so helpful. I realized how often I would tend to think about what was next on my list and feel so behind. Focusing on breathing and how it feels to be alive and awake in the present moment helps put everything in perspective, and makes you realize that it’s OK if things don’t go according to plan because life isn’t necessarily linear and each development in life takes it’s own sweet journey that can move up and down, slow and fast, and we aren’t in control of so much of it. Really, it’s just taught me to be more OK with imperfection and taking my hands off from time to time.

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If you haven’t already started Adrienne’s 31-day yoga video series, it’s not too late! I so highly recommend it and I think starting to practice yoga at home, as opposed to starting with public yoga classes, is so wise and really helps you focus on your own body. I started one of these in the middle of February last year and it set me off on such a great path. When I miss a day, sometimes I do two the next day. Sometimes I just skip and come back to the ones I’ve missed later. But I find that I’m so much a better person when I find the time to fit 25-35 minutes of this into my day. Usually in the morning or right before I go to bed, but sometimes it’s right when I get home from work, or before I run an errand, or after a spin class. The best part is that you can do it anywhere, it’s approachable, and it makes a difference.

Namaste, folks and happy FRIDAY!

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2016 in Memories || 2017 in Resolutions

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I vividly remember last December 31st. I spent the beginning of the day on a wild goose chase run around Boston taking selfies in front of landmarks like a fool in order to win some last-minute, NHL-Sponsored tickets to the Winter Classic. I was 20 minutes shy of the last prize (which probably was not tickets) and spent the rest of the day deciding whether or not I wanted to get dressed up and go out to ring in 2016. I remember being so excited for the new year to usher in the changes on the horizon. I was ready to leave 2015 behind, for no real reason in particular, and jump in to 2016 full-force, as a newly registered dietitian, freshly admitted graduate student, and chock full of a directed purpose for my next steps in life. It didn’t take long for life to voice its chaotic, demanding cry, straining me to figure out a balance between work, school, friends, family and my own sanity. Even though 2016, was, for most people I talk to, not winning any medals, it had its shiny moments. There’s nothing like reflecting on the past 12 months to remind you how fast time can move and how quickly we can forget the little wins. With the help of the photos stored on my phone, here are the highlights of my 2016, bulleted in memories.

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January 2016
  • Started graduate school full time at Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy in the Nutrition Communication program
  • Road tripped up to Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine for a weekend of snow and fun with my new classmates
  • Gave up drinking for a month (made it 3 weeks until I decided eliminating fun things from my life was not for me and re-adopted the moderation stance, as well as a new identity as a lightweight)
February 2016
  • Turned 24, got my hair blown out and went out to a fancy dinner + drinks with friends old and new.
  • Celebrated my first Valentine’s day as someone’s real Valentine.
  • Ran for student council co-chair and got elected.
March 2016
  • Went to the Boston Beer and Cheese festival and got entirely too drunk off of craft beer and fancy cheese (culminating in getting kicked out from one of my favorite pizza restaurants. I am still ashamed).
April 2016
  • Attended an Inside Tracker event and listened to Mike Wardian, Tawnee Prazak and Brogan Graham speak and felt all the running feels.
  • Watched the Boston Marathon and had the first thought that “I could do this”
  • Volunteered with Food for Free at their fundraising soup event to support and learn more about the community-based food rescue organization.
  • Said an amicable goodbye to a short-lived relationship with a good guy.
May 2016
  • Started the blog A Balanced Pace.
  • Thought I might have developed a dairy intolerance.
  • Signed up to run the New York City Marathon in November, committing to raise $3,000 for Action for Healthy Kids
  • Road-tripped to Burlington and Ran the Vermont City Marathon HALF as a relay with my roommate.
  • Realized I probably didn’t have a dairy intolerance.
  • Found my current running coach, Heather, after reading blogs and discovering her super refreshing perspective and advocacy for balance and health-focused training.
  • Traveled back to Minnesota (after missing my flight in Chicago and bumming around, stranded, in the airport for 5 hours) for my best friend’s bachelorette weekend up north at a beautiful lake house.
  • Finished my first full-time semester of graduate school a little too overwhelmed and decided to back down to part time.
June 2016
  • Stood beside my best friend as a bridesmaid while she married her then-fiance, now-hubby on our gorgeous hometown Lake Minnetonka.
  • Went on a whirlwind drive from Minneapolis to Chicago, stopping in Madison and Kenosha to see friends and family.
July 2016
  • Organized and put on a flop of a fundraiser and learned lots of lessons about running for charity and effectively raising money.
  • Hosted my mom, dad, grandma and aunt in Boston for the 4th of July. Did all the touristy things that you do in the city that hosted the first independence day ever.
  • Decided to step down from my position as co-chair of student council for the coming year.
  • Saw the Twins beat the Red Sox in Fenway with my aunt and cousins from Minnesota.
  • Went on some of the hottest morning 2+ hour runs and felt like a badass.
August 2016
  • Went to the beach, laid in the sun, explored new restaurants in Boston and Cambridge with friends.
  • Went to a COUNTRY concert at Gillette Stadium.
  • Started working at Turnstyle.
  • Chopped my hair into a short bob.
  • Went on my last first Bumble date 🙂
September 2016
  • Got ordained and officiated the small, gorgeous wedding of my best friend from college and her hubby in Madison, Wisconsin.
  • Visited Chicago and a few good friends – ate lots of good food.
  • Went apple picking and went home with WAY too many apples – none of which were wasted.
  • Started my second semester of graduate school.
October 2016
  • Volunteered at a local food festival in an “ask the expert” role, and fielded lots of interesting questions from a variety of folks in attendance.
  • Attended my first FNCE (Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo) as a fully-fledged Registered Dietitian, got blown away/weighed down with free food samples and educated on all sorts of nutrition topics.
  • Strained my foot on my first bad long run and realized it was an issue that was going to need to be seriously addressed.
  • Tried and failed to run the Boston Half Marathon.
  • Bought new running shoes, did not run very much.
  • Started water-jogging.
  • Gave up drinking (by and large).
November 2016
  • Ran my first marathon, finished smiling, drank a cider, and started thinking about running another one someday.
  • Voted in the presidential election.
  • Cried about the presidential election.
  • Cried with classmates, coworkers and friends about the presidential election.
  • Traveled back to visit family in Wisconsin for Thanksgiving and realized family > politics.
  • Went to my first badger football game as an alum, and rode the rollercoaster of watching Wisconsin almost lose to Minnesota (but jumped around and sang with pride in the 5th quarter when they didn’t)
  • Went to an impromptu friendsgiving with beloved old friends in Madison.
December 2016
  • Started an internship working with the Tufts Athletics Department as their Sports Performance Nutritionist in a developing role.
  • Finished my second semester of graduate school, almost thought I failed statistics but was happily incorrect about that fear.
  • Realized that I’m ‘officially’ no longer single. Winky face.

Now onto the next year.

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New Years Resolutions have become the guaranteed cliche headline undoubtedly already flooding your feeds and news outlet sidebars this week. Even though I could spend hours arguing that we should approach goal setting as an ongoing process, and that the last week of December does not have to be a farewell to all that is fun and exciting in life, there is something intoxicating about the first day of a new year and the allure of a fresh start. In reality, there are no fresh starts. Life moves along and forward with drudging certainty no matter what the calendar says. Real life is messy and there are no hard and fast boundary lines keeping all of the baggage of 2016 from seeping into the fresh new order of 2017. Moving forward and improving aspects of our lives is a process that happens day in and day out, but starting the year off with a few clear goals in mind can keep the good motion in motion. If this is the only time you remember to reflect on all you’ve accomplished and assess your status as the person you hope to be, I think setting a few goals in January to mark a new year is better than not setting any goals at all.

These are goals I’ve been working on and mulling over for months. January 1st does not signify the “start date” and December 31st is no “deadline”. These are goals that represent where I’m at on the 2017 year mark on the timeline of my life. These are not drastic goals. They don’t signify a major change in character or lifestyle. Some are more concrete than others. Many are simple additions that will bring me closer to that floaty dream of “the life I’ve always imagined”. All of them are feasible, and all of them make me smile.

Personal

  • Continue to hone in on intuitive eating and nurture my own relationship with food and my body.
  • Read BOOKS. My list is already about a mile long and growing by the day, so it’s about time I start chopping a few off. Most of them are focused on eating behavior, economics, and other nerdy topics, but I do have a few fictional recommendations in there and always welcome suggestions. I tried the whole Audible.com thing and really it just doesn’t do it for me. It’s too easy for me to zone out and realize I’m not listening, and I can’t just miss whole chunks of a book, that’s not cool. Must read words, that’s a need.
  • Run Marathon #2: Faster. With my first 26.2 under my belt, there’s only one direction to go and that’s forward. Since I didn’t go into the first one with any sort of time goal, I feel like I can definitely push myself to prune up in race #2. I’m looking forward to the training, the strategizing, the running. More to come with my plans for this race, but I already have a few ideas brewing that will hopefully be solidifying very soon.

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Etc.

  • Call distant friends weekly. It is way too easy for me to disconnect and be hard to reach. I want to make it a priority to stay in touch with those I care about even if they are far away.
  • Post more recipes to the blog. Start a recipe index and make food more of a feature of A Balanced Pace!

 

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What are your new year goals or resolutions? Do you believe in the power of fresh starts?

Where I’ve Been and Where I’m Going

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Well hello there. Yes, I’m still alive. Yes, I know I’ve neglected this and I could throw a slew of excuses out there as to why (school, work and personal life all decided to ramp up their demands from me at the same time and naturally something had to give – and that was recounting my weekly training). Since my last post, I started my second semester of grad school, this year taking classes part-time to allow myself more breathing room for other life ventures as well as to be able to really dig deep into the classes I am taking if I want to. Last year as a full-time student and half-time employee, I found it really challenging to be able to balance the responsibilities of both. So far, I’m really enjoying the balance of part-time school along with my now two part-time jobs (I found a really awesome gig at a local Cycling + Bootcamp studio that not only pays decently but also allows me to take comped classes during times that I’d otherwise just be sitting around (or managing this blog….) –> WIN. It’s been a busy month of getting used to my new schedule, but the one thing that’s stayed consistent has been my training plan.

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Well, until now.

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For the majority of the month, my training plan was stable: two easy runs each week, one work-out run for speed work or hills, and two strength training days with yoga mixed in and a long run on the weekend. The easy runs were breezy – usually done in the ever increasingly dark mornings (bought a blinky light to save my life) while listening to podcasts or a chill playlist to keep my heart rate down. The work out runs were energizing. I’d end them feeling stronger and really excited to notice how much more in-shape I felt since beginning this whole adventure. The strength training was harder to get in to, but as the weeks went on I noticed it hurt a little less each time. I was a little more stable with each one-legged squat. I could do 50 seconds of mountain climbers without wanting to cry. I felt like I was making progress and my body was working with me. My long runs were great, too. Each week increased intensity a little more. After the step-back week of the wedding in Wisconsin, I ramped up to 2 hours and 45 minutes, then 3 hours. I made it up to 18.5 miles and felt amazing. Some of my best runs. I practiced fueling and found my go-to pre-run breakfast I have no intention of swaying from. I trained my body to handle more real-food carbohydrates on the runs without protest. Long story short, I felt like I was heading in a great direction. Until I wasn’t.

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My last long run was two weeks ago. 2 hours and 45 minutes, and by the end of it I knew something was wrong. It was my first run that was derailed by real GI issues and forced me to stop to use a bathroom (surprisingly, since this happened to me multiple times while training for my half on much shorter runs). After stopping, my body did not want to start again. Thankfully, I had basically completed the entire run at this point and just walked for the remaining 20 minutes back home to cool down. I tried to speed up to a light jog, but it was a no-go. I chocked it up to one too many beers the night before (and perhaps one too many nachos while watching the badger game) and spent the rest of the day eating simple foods. I couldn’t help but notice the nagging pain in my foot that stuck around longer than normal, despite elevating my feet against the wall of my bed as usual. I wore rain boots downtown to work that evening and felt sharp pains with some steps. I figured my feet just needed rest, but the next morning on my short, 30-minute shakeout run I couldn’t even finish 25 minutes of running. My heart rate was sky high for the pace I was going (felt like crawling) and I knew something was off. It was my shoes, I was sure. I know I had put in hundreds of miles on them over the summer and that I was due for a new pair. I only wish I had realized that BEFORE the problem set in. Runners: Don’t ignore footwear. Lesson LEARNED. I made an emergency trip to Marathon Sports that Monday and picked up a brand new pair of the same Mizuno Wave Inspires since they had carried me through most of my training successfully.

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Rest day??

The ankle problem persisted that week despite taking it easier and modifying some of the workouts I had planned. Of course as timing would have it I was going to be running the BAA Half Marathon on the following Sunday, and really didn’t even consider not running it until the day before, when I was on my feet all morning and could tell that the issue had definitely not fully resolved. Basically, on the inside of my left ankle, I have a tightness in what I now believe is the tendon that runs from my ankle down to the bottom of my foot. I’ve tried to ice it and wear a compression brace for as much as I can and that has seemed to help. The problem is that I really can’t let it fully rest. Being in Boston, and used to walking pretty much everywhere while also working on my feet twice a week at the spin studio, I’ve still managed to stay relatively active. Great, except when it’s not. I worked out a plan for the half with my coach the day before the race, and since I had already picked up my bib and gotten excited about it with some friends who were also running, it was near impossible for me to think about skipping it. More lessons learned — let the ego GO when it comes to healing and taking care of your body. I made the decision that I would go to the race mostly to practice pre-race strategy, but pull back and DNF the minute I started to feel pain.

(Eats + Treats from the past month…)

The day of the race was miserable and rainy and cold, perfectly, and though I was able to run a (SLOW) 4.5 miles before deciding that enough was enough, shutting down my watch and settling in to the idea that this weekend was a bust, I couldn’t get back to the starting line without continuing my march forward with the rest of the runners. I stopped at one medical tent to see if there would be sweepers picking up injured runners (hello), but the only sweeper would be at the end of the race – meaning I’d have to wait a full two hours just to be shuttled back to the starting line where most of my friends would probably already have left. I decided to keep walking, but after 3 miles of walking and trying to find a short cut in the pouring rain, I felt so impatient and worn down and I just wanted to be done. I upped it to a jog despite knowing that I was probably making a mistake, and ran another mile or so until I found the branching point where the runners go out and back for a loop – I jumped in on the pack of runners that were coming back and probably bypassed about 3 miles of the course. I tried to sneak back to the finish line without finishing the race – did not feel like I deserved to run through that finish line – but found that the only way to get to where the finishers were was to run through that line. After I finished, I shoveled a hamburger into my mouth and regretted what I had just done. I had to keep repeating to myself along the course that it was OK – this wasn’t my race – New York would be my race, where I would put it all out there and really go for it. It was OK to hold back here, but it was hard to be in that place amongst all of the other runners who had worked so hard to get to this day and this course. The post-race was the worst part. There was nowhere to go to escape the rain and cold, and I ever-so-smartly forgot to pack a change of clothes or even a sweatshirt, so I shivered my way all back home and FINALLY took a hot hot shower once I was back. I prayed that I didn’t do as much damage to my ankle as I expected I did and checked back in with Heather to adjust my plan.

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What it’s looked like this week: Not a lot of running. Yesterday was the first time I laced up for a jog since Sunday, actually. Other than that, I took the two days following the race completely “off,” though both days I somehow managed to rack up 15,000+ steps despite only going to work and class. Wednesday I was able to go to a yoga class focused on stability and stretching big workhorse muscles like the quads and core, and also did some basic core and hip strengthening moves at home. I iced my ankle every night and propped it up whenever possible. I willed it to heal, but it’s been a slow process.

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I was supposed to have my last big push of a run today, Friday, before the national nutrition conference FNCE this weekend. One more 3 hour run to set the stage for my two taper weeks coming up before November 6th. But yesterday on my quick 30 minute run it was obvious things were still not 100% – though they have improved a lot since last week. After a bit of warming up, I could run without thinking about the pain in my ankle but this was just 30 minutes – I had no idea what would lay ahead of me during a 3 hour training run and the last thing I want to do is mess things up even more with less and less time to recover. Moving ahead this week, it’s looking pretty conservative. Trying to agitate it as little as possible and that means little to no real road miles. As scary as that seems, heading in to the last weeks of my training without reaching for high miles, I have to trust this process. I trust that my coach has given me the tools to train myself to be prepared for the race, and I have to take care of my body for all of that training to pay off. The last thing I need is to ignore all the lessons I’ve learned over the years and continue to train on a stressed body in need of rest.

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A true lesson in patience and letting go of the stubborn will to push myself farther. It’s about keeping the bigger picture in focus. I’ll be OK as long as I let myself heal. That’s the important thing right now. The mantra I’ve repeated to myself this whole training season is still relevant: Get Through The Mud. But I need a solid footing to do that, so hopefully by next weekend I have it back.

Current Fave = My Pride & JOY of a Running Playlist – Getting a lot of play time despite the lack of mileage

Have you run through an injury before? How did you handle it? Mistakes you learned from or success stories you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you!

Week 10 NYC Marathon Training + Life Update + Bonus Recipe

 

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Here we are — 10 weeks in, 11 to go. Almost half way! I’ve been feeling super motivated (and also very much in awe) watching all the insanely athletic olympians kick ass in Rio. Sportz!

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Rio-Inspired Breakfast Scramble

This heat. Needs. To. Go. Away. I’m so tired of constantly sweating and sticking to furniture, not being able to breathe, etc. etc. On Friday my thermostat in my apartment read 94 degrees. Inside. WHAT. Needless to say there has been a lot of non-cooking going on, lots of fruit, salads, ice cream, and literally anything that takes no heat to make. Even pantry snacks like nuts seemed too hot to eat sometimes. So far, my mileage hasn’t been that crazy so my appetite has been pretty much where I started at baseline (besides my long run days where I feel like I could literally eat all day), though this past week I’ve had more than a few bottomless pit episodes…runger here I come. You can bet it’s gonna be out in full force once the cool air of fall hits…. (If it ever comes… please come back, fall!)

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Training Recap (Credit to Heather for the Plan)

Monday: Spin Class + Core Work 

Took my workout back to Turnstyle for a morning spin class that was full of leg-burning hills and perfectly high energy. I always leave these classes on some kind of high. I love it. Followed up with a 30 minute core workout at home.

Tuesday: Group Run + Yoga

Nope. Got stuck at work on a phone call that kept me downtown until 7:15pm and the run was all the way up in Cambridge at 7:30pm. No-can-do. I had planned to leave work just before 7 and hop on the T to make it in time, but ended up feeling pretty burnt out by the end of the day anyway. Thought about just running on my own back at home, but figured I’d be in better shape if I just took the day off and saved my legs for tomorrow’s hills. Did a lovely Yoga With Adrienne stretching routine for Sore Legs which was perfect.

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Uh oh, I bought some crack at the grocery store…. Vanilla Life were $1.99 and yes, they are very tasty

Wednesday: Hill Repeats

Luckily my neighborhood is known for its hills, so finding a good one was not such a hard task. Started with a 20 minute jog to warm up and completed 6 runs up a residential hill, with light jogging/walking down it between each set. The Hill was about 1/4 mile long and each round up I focused on engaging my core, legs, and glutes to push me ahead with strong strides. Even though it was tough work, it was one of those workouts that felt super rewarding. Each round up was short – about 2-3 minutes, so I was able to push myself hard with comfort in the fat that I would have an easy jog back down. I felt like the training I had already done, spinning and strength and running over moderate hills during all of my runs, definitely prepared me here and I actually enjoyed the burn. Felt fine all day but damn when I woke up the next morning my booty was definitely feeling sore.

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Another fav. Made a batch of tuna with just a few tablespoons of this dressing mixed in and it added some bomb flavor. Delicious on crackers, with pepper slices, or in a pita pocket!

Thursday: Crosstraining

Did 45 minutes of easy cardio on the elliptical, increasing resistance from 11-15 over the course and pedaling to the beat of the music while watching the olympics!

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The perfect no-heat recipe: Tilapia Ceviche with Avocado, Cilantro and Green Pepper on a bed or crisp romaine lettuce. With corn chips on the side for scooping!

Friday: Easy 45

Took this one inside to the treadmill because remember what I said about it being 94 degrees INSIDE? yeah, apparently on Friday the heat index was upwards of 110 degrees with all the humidity so there was no way I was wasting energy and life slowly dying for an easy run. Ended up being a pretty solid decision because it’s a lot easier for me to control my heart rate on the treadmill and keeping it under 155 was no problem. I also was able to watch most of the Women’s Olympic Soccer match between USA and Sweden before the tragic ending – so this one was a win!

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Drinking this stuff like it’s going out of style. Heat and humidity life saver if you like bubbles like I do.

Saturday: Long Run, 2 hours 15 minutes

This was a first for me – ran with a running buddy! Somehow, after Friday’s oppressive heat, the heavens opened up and graced the city of Boston with temps in the low 70s. I was almost shocked leaving my house, which was still about 20 degrees warmer than outside, in a tank top. Couldn’t have asked for better weather for this run, really. It was a little humid but definitely a small price to pay for being able to run a little later in the morning (read: not at 5am) and not melt in scorching heat. I met my running buddy, who happens to be moving down to Knoxville, TN TODAY, in Harvard Square and we headed north to one of my new favorite paths — super shaded and woodsy for most of the whole way. Of course, he is a good FOOT taller than me so I felt kinda bad dragging him along (lol Will if you’re reading this, hey!) at my slow warm up pace, and definitely could tell that I was running a little faster than I would have if I were solo. Tried soo hard to slow down and keep my HR under 155 like I was supposed to, but stayed right between 155 and 160 for most of this leg. He was great enough to stick with my pace basically the whole way and it was awesome to be able to spend a sweaty couple hours getting a good run in for his send-off from New England. BUT I don’t think I’ll be running many of these long runs with a partner again because it’s just too hard for me to truly check in with my body and respond. I felt more burnt out from this run in my legs than any of my previous long runs which weren’t all that different, and I think it’s because I ran too hard during the first hour. After that first hour, we did 3 x 15 minutes of half-marathon effort, which I think I again overshot – especially the first one. Finished up with 20 minutes of cool down by the Charles where I really started to feel the lactic acid in my legs. I had a 30 minute walk home from saying goodbye which helped loosen up some of the tightness — motion is lotion, as they say. Got home and rolled out some of the tough spots right away. I had a pint of Arctic Zero in my freezer (going back to the dark side here but so far so good…) that was calling my name. It ended up being the purrrrfect refueling immediately post run – super cold, super refreshing, and full of a decent balance of carbs and protein. Definitely not the most wholesome post run option but it did the trick and honestly felt amazing.

For fueling during the run, I brought along my usual 20 oz water bottle with a full scoop of Skratch and brought a packet of the high sodium clif chews since I figured I’d probably be sweating buckets in the humidity. I ate one every 30 minutes up until the cool down, 3 total. Before leaving, I made sure to get a bit more energy in me than last weekend and toasted up a slice of whole grain bread with some homemade cashew butter and half a banana and ate it about 1.5 hours before the run.

I am feeling inspired to try my hand at maybe making some running fuel to bring with me on runs? Something along the lines of energy balls or easy-to-chew dried fruit snacks, instead of leaning on all this refined sugar every Saturday. Hopefully with this much time left before race day I can come up with something my body likes and that also keeps my blood sugar from going to whacko.

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I prefer salads the size of my head, please and thanks. This one had fresh romaine, watermelon, feta and mint with raspberry vinegar drizzled on top. Super satisfying and hydrating. (Clothing is obviously optional in my apartment these days)

Sunday: 45 minute Jog/Walk

I ended up walking all of this because after the first 10 minutes of walking my heart rate was already at 150. What?! I was so confused, and thought maybe my watch was going on the fritz – since it’s already having trouble with my manual laps. But it’s possible there’s a physiological reason here too — maybe I was still dehydrated from yesterday, though I didn’t feel thirsty and made sure to drink lots of fluids on Saturday. Maybe since my run was particularly hard, my body was still under stress and was trying to recover and my heart rate reflected that. Whatever the case, I did not run and kept my HR right around 150-160 which it did on its own while I walked at an easy pace. CRAZY. and I don’t know if that’s a good or bad sign but we’ll see how it looks tomorrow.

Total Miles = 27.3

So far still so good! My legs are still holding up, feet feeling tired after long runs but better with rest. My glutes and lower back always seem to tighten up so I am continuing to focus on these areas with foam rolling and yoga, and strengthening my core and glute muscles with crosstraining. Thanks to my glorious A/C unit that I finally installed in my window, sleep has been no problemo.. though I am really looking forward to the nights where I can leave the window open and let the fresh air lull me to sleep…

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So excited to make some of these delicious recipes!! Some really great ideas in here (full review coming soon!)

Life Update!

Wait, I do things besides run? Haha. Sometimes. I forgot to mention this a few weeks back (and shoot this is also running related…) but I ended up registering last minute for the BAA Half entry lottery and got in! So I have that to look forward to on my calendar on October 9th – just about one month before my marathon. I’m probably not going to PR in this one as I’m going to use it to practice my marathon pacing, and will most definitely be running slower than my previous races. But it will be great to have a day to practice pre-race and during-race fueling, pacing, music vs. no music… all that jazz. Plus, the BAA Half is lots of fun and they have a great medal and shirts so I’m glad it worked out! I wanted to try to get into a half that I hadn’t already done, but it was so hard to find one at a good time that wouldn’t require a bunch of travel and lodging arrangements. Even though the bib price of the BAA half is higher than a lot of other races, I’ll end up saving a bunch of money not having to pay for somewhere to sleep, a car rental for a full weekend, and a lot of stress associated with all of the above.

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Haha I WISH I was eating gelato for breakfast at work. I had fun pretending with this batch of oats and chia soaked in milk with a half scoop of protein powder – Kept me full for hourssss which is always nice when talking about the weird and delicious food people ate all day at work.

I also have some random news… I am now an ordained minister! Anyone want to get married? I can do that for you! My best friend from college recently got engaged and is planning a small ceremony at the end of the month with her Fiance, and they asked me if I would officiate the ceremony with one of the groom’s best friends. Before this summer, the thought of getting ordained seemed way out there – but my friends who got married earlier this summer had the groom’s dad get ordained to officiate their ceremony, and my cousin is having her brother get ordained to officiate her ceremony next year. Hopping on the new trend, I guess! But I am SO excited, and so honored to have such a major role in the start of their life together ❤ I’ll be flying out to Chicago and Madison at the end of the month for a last minute vacation before school starts up again in the fall and am so grateful I’ll get to see all my most special friends again!! I miss them out in Boston every single day. My official ordination materials are apparently in the mail, and now I have to start figuring out what I’m going to actually say during the ceremony…. EEP

Bonus Recipe!

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I have always loved sweet potatoes, and normally just steam them up in the microwave to cook them, cut em open and stuff them full of lots of goodies like black beans, other veg, greek yogurt, apples, berries, peanut butter…. all the things. Sweet potatoes are a great vehicle for many flavor combos. But recently I started seeing these sweet potato breakfast bowls popping up – almost like oatmeal. I knew I wanted to give it a try because hello sweet potatoes are BOMB and the idea of having a starchy veg be the base of a breakfast meal is something I can definitely get behind. Well, it ended up being a major success. Definitely adding this to my breakfast repertoire and breaking it out frequently during cooler mornings. I’m sure you could make this ahead of time and stick it in the fridge and eat it cold like an overnight oats deal – that is going to be the next thing I test. This is another recipe that literally comes together in minutes, but I think you’ll get the best success if you take the time to fully bake the potatoes in the oven so they get nice and soft inside and the skin is easier to remove. I like to wrap my potatoes in foil and stick them in a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes. Bake a full batch and you have breakfast ready to go for the whole week!

Without further ado, here is how I pulled this beaut together:

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium or 2 small sweet potatoes, baked and skins removed (feel free to save the skin for something else, don’t waste all those nutrients!
  • 1/2 scoop (15g) protein powder of choice* – I used PEScience Select Protein Blondie flavor
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice – I used 1% dairy milk
  • Cinnamon
  • Toppings of choice: Banana, berries, apple, peach, chia seeds, cacao nibs, dark chocolate, coconut, nuts, nut butters, coconut oil; the base of this is primarily starchy carbohydrates and protein so feel free to add some healthy fats here

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Directions:

  • In a bowl, mash baked sweet potato into a mush.
  • Add protein powder and milk, and stir until completely combined
  • Microwave for 2-3 minutes, stirring every minute or so
  • Top with cinnamon, toppings of choice and enjoy!

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*If you don’t have protein powder at home, you could easily sub in one egg white here – just make sure you really stir to combine so the egg is completely mixed in and you don’t end up with bits of egg white scramble mixed in with your potato bowl!

Not a fan of bananas and nut butter? (Who are you!?) Here are a few other flavor combos that sound absolutely delicious

Pumpkin Pie: Pumpkin pie spice + Pecans + Apples (try microwaving them with cinnamon for 30 seconds before adding to the mix!) + Vanilla yogurt

Tropical Vaca: Coconut Flakes (unsweetened) + Mango slices + Cashews + Coconut milk

Mexi-Cali: Make it savory and omit the flavored protein powder. Add black beans + avocado + sautéed peppers + greek yogurt + chili powder and lime juice

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I’m so excited just to have this day to lounge around and watch the olympics, make some food for the week and reset.

Have you guys been watching Rio? What has been your favorite event to watch? Anything you guys are still looking forward to?

Do you tend to prefer sweet or savory for breakfast? I tend to prefer sweet but there are definitely days when nothing but savory will do. Luckily, sweet potatoes fit both of the bills!

HELP ME REACH $1,500 BY SEPTEMBER 1ST!