• 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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Countdown to Disney: 5 Days!

Good morning!  Despite my illness, I got up to do 4 miles with my Galloway girls this morning.  Other than being sniffly and blowing my nose on every walk interval, I felt pretty good.  Now, post-run, I’m feeling kind of tired and achey, but I know that getting up and active was the right thing to do.

I have no run stats for you because I didn’t wear my watch.  I can tell you that we did 4 miles in run 2/walk 1 intervals, but I have no idea how long it took.  😦

While the Husband is at work on this rainy Saturday, I have lots of projects to work on!  These top secret projects are all related to our Disney Princess Half Marathon trip next weekend and will be revealed in good time.  😉

Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about taper.  Some more experienced runners keep themselves in “half marathon shape” year-round and thus don’t go into taper for a race.  Being my first half marathon, I am going through a taper period.  According to Marathoning for Mortals:

The taper is when you start backing off your mileage and intensity in preparation for the big day.  For most programs, this will be the last 3 weeks.  Those 3 weeks are emotionally difficult even if they are physically easy.

Marathoning for Mortals also talks about the effect of “Taper Madness,” which basically means you don’t want to run, but DO want to spend lots of money on new running stuff.  (This, they say, is why we have race expos!)  In all seriousness, though, Marathoning for Mortals offers some great taper tips:

  1. Spend time thoroughly packing for the race.  Bingham’s advice is to take everything; I usually settle for everything I need for the race plus a backup outfit.  (Though I did famously forget both underwear and my hydration belt for Disney’s Race for the Taste…)
  2. Don’t make any changes to what you eat.  Stick with healthy, familiar foods.  I’ve been chowing down on lots of whole grains and vegetables lately because I know those work for me.
  3. Stay hydrated during the week leading up to the race.  Lately, I’ve been committing myself to drinking my whole 32 oz. Nalgene full of water every day.  This sometimes doesn’t happen on busy days, so I’ve been making an extra effort as my race approaches.

Here are a few good online articles about taper:

I’m off to get cracking on my plans for the day, which include lots of rest, writing lesson plans, and working on Disney projects!

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Movie News

I’m a pretty regular NPR listener and I often hear stories that pique my interest.  Today, there was a short piece on a documentary project that is being unveiled at the Sundance Film Festival this week.

As reported in this New York Times article, Glaxo Smith Kline, a pharmaceutical company, is pairing up with a nonprofit organization to create a documentary on the, “unhealthy relationships people have with food.”

The NYT article bills the upcoming documentary as “An Inconvenient Truth” for food: maybe not everyone will see it, but it will get people thinking and talking about food, nutrition, and obesity.

From the article:

“The partners say they hope to emulate “An Inconvenient Truth,” Al Gore’s celebrated 2006 documentary on climate change. It cost an estimated $1.5 million to produce and sold $50 million in tickets worldwide. Ms. Ferdinando summarized the film as “the ‘Inconvenient Truth’ of mindless eating,” with the story taking a “behind-closed-doors, fly-on-the-wall” approach that highlights unhealthy relationships people have with food.”

Sounds good, right?  A nonprofit backed by a company with lots of money producing a film that might prompt people toward healthier lifestyles, right?

Here’s the only catch:  Glaxo Smith Kline is the maker of the FDA approved diet pill Alli.  Although there are a number of Alli success stories out there, it seems there are a number of side effects as well.  And apart from that: it is ethical for the makers of a diet pill to finance a documentary about eating?  Is there a chance that this film will be, as the NYT writes a, “controversial strategy to increase interest in a weight-loss drug”?

I’ll admit that I recently did some research about Alli because, as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been running for one year and completely changed my eating habits about seven years ago and haven’t lost weight or seen much of a change in my body.  However, I don’t run and eat healthy for weight loss reasons; clearly, my body has found it’s “feel great weight” (like Tina at Carrots ‘N’ Cake writes) where I’m meant to be.  In general, I have pretty negative feelings toward diet pills.  Diets and pills are not solutions; long-term lifestyle changes are!

So, how will this documentary turn out?  Only time will tell; the film isn’t in production and a budget hasn’t been announced.  The team will be naming a director at Sundance this week, so keep an eye out for news stories about this issue!

Smart Snacking on the Road

Faithful readers will recall that recently, I have taken several road trips.  In the last two weeks, I have driven from Sarasota, Florida to Holland, Michigan and then back.  From Holland, we also drove to Wisconsin for a short Christmas trip.

The Husband and I are what you  might consider ultra road-trippers.  We like to go as far as possible, in as little time as possible, with as few stops as possible.  Eating healthy on the drive from Florida to Michigan can be tricky.  Here are some tips for healthy eating on the road:

  • Pack healthy snacks!  For me, getting behind the wheel triggers my need to snack.  My cooler for the drive to and from Michigan included snacks like carrots, broccoli, and ranch; pretzels with hummus; string cheese; dried pineapple; and ZBars.  The Husband snagged a picture yesterday of me snacking on some baby carrots with ranch dip:

  • Instead of stopping for fast food, pack your breakfast and lunch.  For our trip up to Michigan, we knew we’d be in the car during lunch.  I stopped at Publix the day before we left and got some sub sandwiches.  Mine was a whole wheat wrap with turkey, swiss, and lettuce.  Much healthier than a drive-through burger!  When leaving Michigan yesterday, I packed a breakfast of Triscuits and cheese instead of having a drive through breakfast.

  • Research some healthy options for on-the-road foods.  We knew we’d be doing some quick stops and drive throughs, so I planned ahead.  When we stopped in Kentucky for breakfast with my best friend Missy and her husband. we chose Panera bread and I had a whole wheat bagel.  Also, I  had a McDonald’s salad for lunch on the road:

(This would have bean healthier if they had topped it with grilled chicken like I had asked for, instead of crispy chicken.  Still – it’s better than a burger and fries!)

  • Plan for some treats!  I packed a bag in the back with treats my students had given me for Christmas, like Ghirardelli chocolates and carmel corn with pecans.  Because I packed a few pre-planned treats, I didn’t keep grabbing Combos or candy bars from gas stations like I sometimes do.

So, smart eating on the road is definitely possible with a little bit of pre-planning.  The Husband and I are planning a big camping road trip this summer, and I’ll be putting these ideas into practice once again since we’ll be in the car almost every day for two weeks!

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!

Thanksgiving Memories and Menu

Thanksgiving is one of the holidays we spend in Florida.  Luckily, we have some fellow Michiganders to spend our holiday with!

Meet Nate and Tabetha, our buddies in Daytona Beach!  Nate is the Husband’s fraternity brother and they lived together in college for several years.  Tabetha is his lovely girlfriend, and since this picture was taken a year ago, they have added a wonderful daughter, Olivia, to their family.  She is almost 8 months old and I haven’t seen her since August!

Nate and Tabetha had Thanksgiving with us in Celebration last year:

I cooked and cleaned up a storm all week!

There I am in full-on day-before-Thanksgiving mode.  I pretty much spent all week in my element, cleaning and laundering and baking and doing dishes, all in a sweatshirt and PJ pants.  (In Kissimmee, we had the whole week off school!  Sigh.  I miss it.  I also miss our old condo.  Isn’t my old kitchen beautiful?!)

The Husband cooked up a wonderful turkey for us!

It really was a perfect Thanksgiving, and I think our guests enjoyed themselves.  🙂  We capped off the day with a walk around Celebration and a movie.  Then, Tabs and I shopped ’til we dropped at the Orlando outlets the next day while the guys went golfing.

This year, Nate and Tabetha are hosting us at their place in Daytona!  It’s going to be bittersweet because they are moving back to Michigan in December, so we will lose our holiday friends.  It’s nice to have “family” here in Florida!

My contribution to the menu will be:

I pretty much have to make my green bean casserole and apple crisp because they were the big “hits” of last year’s menu.  Cranberry relish is the Husband’s favorite, so that is a staple, too!  I am making the broccolini and carrots mostly for me – I want some veggies in my meal, and I am not a green bean casserole fan.  🙂

Here’s my schedule:

  • Sunday:  trip to Publix to purchase Thanksgiving essentials and chili essentials (I’m making a huge batch of chili to eat this week because I know I’ll be busy and chili is easy to heat up for a quick meal!)
  • Tuesday night:  make apple crisp; store in fridge (this reheats really, really well!)
  • Wednesday:  go to Whole Foods to buy wine; make green bean casserole (this also reheats well) but leave off onions and store in fridge; make cranberry relish; prepare everything for carrots and broccolini (do all the chopping, measuring, etc.)
  • Thursday:  load everything in car; drive in Daytona; use stovetop to make carrots and broccolini; reheat everything else in the oven.  Oh, yeah,  and before all that, I’ll be joining my Galloway group for a 10-mile Thanksgiving run at sunrise!

I think this should work!  I have to teach on Monday and Tuesday, but Wednesday will be totally devoted to Thanksgiving cooking!  (Oh, and maybe seeing New Moon in the theater.)   The Husband will be in Gainesville until Wednesday night, so I won’t have much help around here, but that’s okay.

Thanksgiving 2009 is hopefully going to be our best holiday yet!

Recipe of the Week: October 26

Welcome to the brand new Recipe of the Week series!

Each week, I’m going to try out a new recipe and post the results.

I’m not very creative in the kitchen, so these will mainly be recipes from cookbooks, websites, or other bloggers.

My very first Recipe of the Week is… Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup!  (Click the link to view the recipe at FoodNetwork.com)  This is a recipe from Ina Garten’s cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Family Style, which is one of three of her cookbooks that I own.  I wanted to try this soup because the color was beautiful, the consistency looked perfect, and it’s full of healthy winter veggies!

This recipe begins with dicing up 1 pound of carrots, 1 pound of parsnips, 1 large sweet potato, and 1 small butternut squash:

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Then, you roast them with olive oil, salt, and pepper at 425 degrees for 25-35 minutes.

Now, these veggies would, at that point, make a tasty side dish for any winter menu!  But, I took the recipe one step further and made it into Ina’s soup.

This meant heating 6 cups of chicken stock and dumping in the veggies.

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At this point, one is supposed to transfer the stock and roasted vegetables to a food processor in two batches.  We lack a food processor, but definitely have a Magic Bullet, so I Bullet-ed the soup in about seven batches!

After I thinned the soup with a bit of water (I ran out of chicken stock) the consistency was thick and the color a rich gold.

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Now, I’ll tell you – I am not that big a fan of squash or sweet potatoes, but I was hoping I would like them in soup.  So, I poured myself a bowl with a few croutons for crunch.

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It was pretty good!  I simply loved the thick, creamy consistency.  It was an awesome soup for a cold winter’s evening.  (Which it is not here, where the high today was 84.  But still.)  The taste was kind of foreign and weird to me – I tasted mostly squash.  However, as the husband pointed out, squash is an acquired taste.

The main thing I like about this soup is that it’s so thick that it almost has the taste of a cream-based soup, but is much healthier because it is broth based and contains so many vegetables!

This soup is extremely filling, so even though the only thing I had on the side was a small grilled cheese sandwich, I didn’t finish my whole bowl!  I think that if I keep eating small servings of this soup all week, the taste will grow on me.

So – if you are looking for a hearty soup for a fall or winter evening, give Ina’s Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup a try!