• About Allison

    I am a 26-year-old married Michigan gal living in Sarasota, Florida. This blog is a chronicle of my journey toward a healthier lifestyle! I started running in January 2009 and began to change my eating habits in May 2009. Now, I am dedicated to training smart and eating right. Join me as I seek to balance running and eating healthy, local foods with my crazy work life and hilarious home life.

    Contact me: allisonisactive@gmail.com

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February Theme: Weekday Workouts

Confession: I have been a running slacker lately.  Aside from my Saturday long runs, I don’t even feel like I’m training for a half marathon.

This situation has occured for a number of reasons.

  1. I am super busy at work planning for five classes instead of four, preparing my kids for the FCAT and myself for the GRE, getting geared up for re-enrollment, and completing my Florida Reading Endorsement.
  2. My house doesn’t clean itself, unfortunately, although my husband does a lot of the housework.
  3. My perpetual minor-but-nagging running injuries keep me off my feet during the week: sore knees, sore hips, and blisters.  I rest so much during the week so I can be ready for my long run every Saturday.

My lack of weekday runs is really affecting my stress level.  Even though it’s hard to fit running into my busy day, I always feel better after I run.  Running helps me stay calm and relieves stress; I often come up with ideas to deal with roadblocks and difficult situations in my personal and professional life when I’m running.  I also feel like it’s affecting my fitness level; this is the least I have run since I started running, and I hate it.

For this reason, I am dedicating February to Weekday Workouts.  I really have to focus this month on following the final weeks of my Galloway half marathon training plan.  This calls for:

  • One long run every week (I do this every week, so it’s not an issue)
  • Two short runs every week (about 30 minutes)
  • One day of running and/or cross training every week

My number one goal is to finish the Disney Princess Half Marathon feeling strong and beautiful with a huge smile on my face.  My secondary goal is to rediscover the joy of short weekday runs where I run not for time or for distance or really for training, but just to get out of the house and RUN.  I miss those days.

Here are the steps I plan to take to accomplish my goals of fitting in three weekday workouts, two of which involve running:

  1. Leave work by 5:30 every day.  (This seems like it would be simple since I usually get to work around 7:30 and that’s ten hours of work, but sometimes ten hours just isn’t enough!  Sigh.)
  2. Pack a healthy afternoon snack so I don’t skip gym workouts just because I’m hungry and want to go home for dinner.  A lot of days I plan to hit the gym, am too hungry, and go home to make dinner.  But then I don’t do anything after dinner!
  3. Run after dinner two evenings every week.
  4. Avoid running on the treadmill!  This just creates more injuries that prevent me from running.

What are your best tips for fitting in weekday runs and workouts? 

 

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Yoga in January (Yanuary), Parts III and IV

A day off school means lots of time to relax, and that means YOGA!  I’ve got a couple of reviews for my Yoga in January series for you.

Part III:  A.M. and P.M. Yoga by Gaiam

I rented this yoga DVD recently and tried A.M. Yoga this morning.  Loved it!  The A.M. workout included 3 minutes of relaxation, 12 minutes of yoga workout, and 2 minutes of meditation.  That’s 17 minutes total, and I think 17 minutes would be easy to fit into a work day.

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The instructions were very clear, although it moved fast.  I would have liked to stay in some of the poses for longer, but when fitting yoga into a busy work day, a quick series of stretches is probably a good thing.

I’m eager to try to P.M. Yoga workout later this week!

Part IV:  Runner’s Yoga from Women’s Running Magazine

Women’s Running magazine is one of two running publications that I buy every month (the other is Runner’s World) and I really love a lot of their features.  They truly make running accessible to everyone, and offer timely information to beginning, intermediate, and advanced runners.

The January/February 2010 issue includes a great article with lots of pictures on yoga for runners:

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I gave their Perfect Post-Run Yoga poses a try after my four-mile run this evening and I was impressed!  My tired legs got exactly the stretch they needed, and some of the poses especially stretched out my sore hips.  That lying twist was especially perfect!  My back and shoulders also felt wonderful after the stretches, which is a rarity for me because I have some major shoulder problems.

By the way, here are the only two yoga tools I own:

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I paid $14.99 for the mat at Target last year when I first started doing yoga, and the old beach towel functions as all the other props you sometimes need in yoga: a yoga strap and a pillow or folded blanket. 

When I am doing a workout that suggests yoga blocks, I grab some thick books off our shelf.  Seriously.  I was an English major; The Riverside Chaucer and The Riverside Shakespeare make great yoga blocks, and what else are they doing but gathering dust these days?!

Watch for more Yoga in January (Yanuary) posts later this week!  I will definitely be giving the P.M. Yoga workout a try at least one day since, with state testing coming up, school is stressing me out to the max!

Peanut Butter Question

Question for you natural peanut butter eaters:  What’s your method for mixing in the oil on top?

I seriously make a huge mess every time I do this!  Also, I don’t think I mix it well enough because the bottom 1/3 of my peanut butter is always really dry and crumbly.

Today, I was opening a new jar I tried pouring half the jar into a bowl to mix.  I still don’t feel it got mixed well enough.  Maybe I need to throw it all into a mixing bowl?

Tips, please!

Today’s Eats

As you might have guessed based on the above peanut butter rant, I had peanut butter for breakfast!  Two slices of whole wheat toast with peanut butter, to be more specific.  Despite my PB woes, I still love 365 Organics natural peanut butter from Whole Foods!  It’s one of the products I always buy there because it’s a good deal.

Morning snack = unpictured carrots and ranch.  Crunchy!

Last night, we ventured out to Word of Mouth, the restaurant down the street, to grab a quick bite.  I wasn’t super hungry after my afternoon at Panera, so I ordered the appetizer chicken quesadilla:

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Not only was this thing huge, it was also amazing!  The filling included chicken, cheese, onions, and red peppers, and I have no idea what was going on with the tortilla, but it had a great flavor and crunch.  This picture was taken after I ate 1/4 of it.  It was so gooey and spicy that I wanted to eat more, but it was super filling and I limited myself to one piece.

Two of the leftover pieces made a great lunch today:

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This quesadilla was just as good after it was microwaved!  I’m looking forward to eating the last piece tomorrow!

Afternoon snack = bag of microwave popcorn.  It’s my stand-by snack at school when I need to eat fast!

Workout

I rocked another nonrunning workout today.  At the gym, I spent 30 minutes on the elliptical doing a random hill workout and reading.    I broke a serious sweat, so I think I still had a good cardio workout without running.

I’m looking forward to my 4–miler on Saturday; it’s a “rest week” for my training program.  Hurray for rest weeks!

The Husband is currently heating up a bowl of chili for me, and then we’re going to veg out and watch TV.

Bike Workout at the Gym

I’m going to make this post super quick!

Today’s Eats

  • Breakfast:  Oatmeal!  As always, this included:
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1/2 cup old fashioned oatmeal
    • 1 tbs. maple syrup
    • 2 tsp. brown sugar
    • Slivered almonds and coconut for topping
  • Morning snack:  Carrots with ranch.  I didn’t eat many because I got busy teaching about FCAT key words.
  • Lunch:  Campbell’s V8 mixed vegetable soup.  Surprisingly, I don’t find this soup too salty.  I liked this brand (the kind in boxes) back when it was Campbell’s Premium or something like that, and I may try the V8 soups again.  It wasn’t too bad!  Also, I had two slices of Pepperidge Farm cinnamon swirl bread, toasted.
  • Afternoon snack:  Handful of pretzel chips; half a carrot cake Clif bar before the gym
  • Dinner:  Bowl of homemade chili with cheddar cheese and green onions for topping, and tortilla chips for dipping.  Plus two M&M cookies (dough purchased from cheerleading fundraiser; Husband is making it all the time now) for dessert!

Workout

I hit the gym for a non-running workout today since my hip is still giving me some pain.  I was in a time crunch because of cheerleading practice, grading essays, and wanting to be home by 7:00.  Here’s what I did:

  • 30 minutes on the bike; random workout level 6?  I think.  Read some Harry Potter to pass the time.  (Nerd.)
  • 20 sit-ups and 20 twist-ups on the bosu ball with a 6–pound weight
  • 30 second plank
  • LOTS of leg and hip stretching
  • Rolled my IT band (both legs) on the foam roller.  PAIN, but in a good way. 

My hips and legs are feelin’ great right!  If my shoes dry out (I wore old running shoes today) I should be running again on Wednesday.

See you tomorrow!  (Pictures are coming back soon.  I feel like my meals are boring lately.  I like them, but you are probably bored.)

Yoga in January (Yanuary)

I blogged a while back about my love for yoga.  Basically, I used to go to yoga a lot when we lived in Celebration last year – I sometimes attended candlelight yoga at a local dance studio, and then after I joined Anytime Fitness, I went to yoga at my gym.  After moving, I fell out of it, but I just bought a new yoga DVD!

I’ve got some great monthly blog themes planned for 2010 to keep the material fresh, and I’ve decided that yoga will be my theme for January.  I’m calling it “Yoga in  January,” but you have to say “January” with a soft “j” like Will Ferrell in Anchorman says “jogging” as “yogging.”  This way, the theme is alliterative.  🙂

This Detriot Free Press article about fitness trends for 2010 says that Americans want unique and efficient workouts.  I think that yoga is both – it offers a workout that you can only get with yoga and it also enables you to get a good workout in a short period of time

I also like that yoga can be whatever you want it to be – depending on the workout, it can be used to improve performance in other sports, recover from a long run, work up a sweat, tone your muscles, or just stretch and relax.

Also, another wonderful thing about yoga is that it’s pretty inexpensive.  You can do it in your own home with minimal costs – just rent or buy a couple yoga DVDs, or download some yoga podcasts online.  I bought one yoga DVD for $9.99 and I paid $14.99 for my mat last year.  I use things around my house – like an old towel instead of a yoga strap – for cheap props.

Following my health resolutions for 2010, in which I wrote about incorporating more strength training and cross training, I’ll try to do a yoga workout two times every week.  I will be reviewing yoga podcasts and DVDs as I go, so make sure you check out all my yoga posts!

What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

Happy New Year’s Eve!  What are my plans, you ask?  Well!  I normally do nothing for NYE.  Literally.  The last time I had “plans” for New Year’s Eve was in 1999 when I went to Indiana to visit a friend.  Normally, I just stay in and hang out with my mom.  🙂  Today, however….

  • I am doing a New Year’s Eve Fun Run 5k in Downtown Holland!  I already picked up my super cute navy blue Brooks Podium long sleeve tech shirt.  Yay!  I am so excited that I began my year by running (I started in January 7, 2009) and I will end my year with running.
  • We are going to a friend’s beach house (we live very near Lake Michigan) to hang out and stay the night.  There will be food, wine, card games, and brunch with minosas in the morning.  I’m so glad this has sprung up; I like a low-key get together, and some of my favorite people will be there!  Also, I might learn how to play euchre, a midwest card game tradition which I have never played.

Where have a been the past few days?  I’ve been a blogging slacker once again because I’ve been enjoying the company of friends and family!  I have been lunching and shopping with my friend/roommate/sorority sister Erin, having dinner with my friend/former cheerleading teammate/fellow running enthusiast Michelle, and shopping/lunching with my mom.

I have also been considering some New Year’s Resolutions.  I’m not normally a resolution person.  I think too many people wait to make changes on NYE instead of making changes right away.  For example, this past April I wanted to begin eating healthier, so I began that day instead of waiting for a milestone like January 1 to change my habits.  Also, starting to run this January was definitely NOT a resolution – I didn’t plan it at all!  If you’ve read my running journey page, you’ll know that my desire to run stemmed from a random day trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  I also feel that resolutions don’t really stick.  Too many people set unattainable goals or nonspecific goals and become discouraged.

Anyway, I am making a few this year.  At my job, we regularly write S.M.A.R.T. goals, and if I remember correctly, that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.  Doing this keeps your goals from entering that nonspecific or unattainable realm.  So, I’ll try to make my resolutions S.MA.R.T., too!

Things I Want to Do in 2010:

Running Resolutions:

  1. Finish a half marathon in the spring and a full marathon in the fall or winter
  2. Compete in a team long-distance relay race in the spring or summer
  3. Run in an event with the Husband any time this year
  4. Improve my 10k time by six minutes by the end of the year

Professional Resolution:

  1. Take the GRE and apply to graduate school (scary!) by the end of the year
  2. Finish my Florida Reading Endorsement (I have one more class to take) by May

Health Resolutions:

  1. Continue to improve my eating habits, particularly when traveling this summer and on Michigan trips, by engaging in research before traveling and making plans that I can/will/do actually stick to.
  2. Incorporate regular strength training into my fitness routine (2 days per week)
  3. Incorporate a new form of cardio cross training (biking, swimming, etc.) into my fitness routine (1 day per week)

Personal Resolutions:

  1. Plan an execute an awesome summer vacation with the Husband (this is already in the works) because I didn’t travel anywhere cool in 2009.  (I’ve been to Michigan three times and also to Iowa for a wedding.  This was all wonderful, but I want to go to more places!)
  2. Keep in touch with my friends better by arranging monthly phone dates.
  3. Use an envelope system to pre-plan spending for groceries, eating out, and entertainment (three areas where we could improve our habits.)

There.  Simple and S.M.A.R.T.

I better get going now – the Husband wants my opinions on what to buy for the NYE gathering tonight and I need to pack my overnight bag.  Have a great final day of 2009 and first day of 2010 everyone!

Anyone want to share their own New Year’s Resolutions?

This Post is Officially Random

Wow, what a Monday!  Between teaching, yearbook stuff, coaching cheerleading at a “dress rehearsal” for tomorrow’s program, and getting to the library, my day has been hectic.  But, it was hectic in a pleasant way!

First of all, I have to rewind to Sunday.  My Sunday was pretty relaxing – I read the paper, did some Christmas shopping, grabbed lunch at Chipotle, relaxed and read for a long time, and hit the road for a five-mile bike ride.

Here’s my sexy night bike riding look, complete with head lamp:

Head lamp story:  The Husband loves to go for night hikes, particularly in the winter and even better if the snow is knee-deep.  He’s had a head lamp forever and it’s always been kind of a joke between us.  So, in December 2006 when he proposed to me, he took me on a night hike (with the head lamp) to a fire on top of the dune that one of his friends had built for us – that where he proposed!  It was wonderful.

Flashback:

We look so young!  I love how the head lamp makes it look like he just mined the diamond.

Anyway, later that evening, he gave me my Christmas present (as if a ring wasn’t enough, right?!) which included my very own head lamp for future night hikes.  🙂  It gets most of its use on night bike rides, however.

Okay, this post has somehow veered from my Sunday activities into a post about my proposal.  This would be a good example of a piece of writing losing focus, which I’m always telling my students not to do!

On Sunday, I also bought this DVD at Target:

I have lately been missing the awesome yoga class I used to go to in Celebration – it was called candlelight yoga and took place late in the evening on Mondays in a dance studio lit only by candles.  It was amaaaaaaazing, and I’m hoping to recreate that experience in my living room!

Anyway, I did two of the workouts yesterday – stress relief yoga and P.M. peak performance yoga.  Both were very relaxing, and made my back and shoulders feel wonderful!  (I have a lot of shoulder pain due to eight years of having people stand on me in cheerleading and also my ample chest.)  I liked the DVD and will be trying an A.M. yoga workout tomorrow!

Okay, so fast forward to Monday – my day began with OATMEAL!

My glorious plastic container of oats that I ate in the car on the way to work, as always, included:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • Coconut and slivered almonds for topping

These oats, plus the fact that I decided to wear my favorite and very comfortable hippie shirt, made my morning excellent.

My dad says this shirt makes me look pregnant.  I think it’s super cute!  I always get compliments on it because it is unique.

My morning snack was a chocolate chip ZBar.  I’ve posted way too many pictures of those, so I’m sure you can imagine it in your mind.  🙂

Lunch = pepperoni pizza leftover from Friday.

My afternoon snacks were two toasted pieces of cinnamon bread and a banana bran muffin, both unpictured because I ate them while teaching or coaching.

After school, I checked my teacher mailbox and discovered a gift from my secret santa:  a Mounds bar!!  Mounds bars are completely my favorite candy ever.  My mom and I like to split them… This bar, however, got completely gobbled up by me right away!

My nail polish is officially raggedy.  Yikes.

How cute is that bow?!  I love my secret santa – clearly, she is a person who understands that even a healthy snack lover like me can use a little dark chocolate on Monday!!  (I say she because I only work with three guys, and none of them wrote this note.)

I got home at 6:00 and immediately hurried to the library on my bike, which is a Monday tradition for Mike and me.  Upon my return, I was super hungry and threw together a repeat of Saturday’s veggie dinner.

  • Roasted red potatoes (leftover)
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Sauteed carrots with sage

This huge plate is proving not to be very filling, so I’m about to go scrounge up some more snacks.

Rereading this post, I am realize how completely random it is.  I hope nobody minds!  We all need some randomness now and then, right?!  🙂

Have a great night, everyone!