I Decided to Run a Marathon

   That’s right. I finally did it. After a few weeks of indecisiveness, I finally took the plunge and signed up for the St. Jude marathon! Yes, I have said in the past, “I don’t think I will ever do a marathon.” Every half marathon I’ve raced I always feel so impressed when I see runners at the half marathon/full marathon fork  turning off to do yet another 13 miles. Eek!
    Yet, here I am! In a lot of ways, this just seemed like the best time to go through with it. I’ve really enjoyed training with Star Runners. There is no way I would have to motivation to go on long double digit mile runs on my own every weekend. Nor would I ever consider doing speedwork or hills for fun. I’ve come to depend on the accountability of the group – and the great friends I have made over the course of miles of pavement pounding. Since we are in this thing together, I know I can do it with the support of friends. 🙂
   The other wonderful thing about having a coach is that I don’t have to try to come up with my own training plan – I like having someone telling me what I need to do to run better! Plus, since I still am not totally familiar with all the in’s and out’s of Memphis, it’s so great to have someone else plan out the routes for runs! Also, I know that if I have any questions I can always go to our coach, Star for advice.

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Now that I have bought my marathon spot, here are some of the things that have been going through my head lately…
– Dear God!!! What am I thinking?!?!?!
– Cross-train. Cross-train. Cross-train. Last year, I didn’t get to run the St. Jude Half due to injury and I DO NOT want that to happen again this year! So, I plan to be much more proactive about stretching, doing yoga/pilates, and biking.
– This is going to be quite time consuming! Plus, I’ll have to give up staying out too late on Friday nights. But I’m ready to commit because I feel like when it is all said and done, I will have no regrets about having gone through with training for and running the marathon.
– I’m really excited to do more research on sports nutrition as well as do a little experimenting… on myself of course! I only wish I would have taken that sports nutrition class in grad school when I had the chance! Will did loan me his sports nutrition textbook from undergrad so I’m hoping to read up on a few things in there.
– Once I finish, I can be cool enough to get one of those 26.2 stickers for the back of my Jeep! LOL.
– My coffee budget will likely increase dramatically as long runs always make me so tired!
– I am going to love my foam roller. Plan to do a lot of these exercises!

Here’s to 6 months of training!!!!

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Check. It. Out.

So, last week my guest post on the VAntage Point blog for work was published! So exciting. After re-reading it, I realized once again that I use entirely too many exclamation points. It’s funny that I try to sound much more excited when I write than when I talk. 🙂 The whole thing came to be after I tried to start a nutrition blog at work and failed. Shortly after, I volunteered to help with the national Nutrition and Food Service social media group with a few dietitians at VAs all over the country. No VA nutrition blog exists yet so we have been posting on the VA general blog. This was my first post. It’s been fun!

Here’s the link if you want to check it out. I talked about one of my favorite things – farmers markets!!

Random Thoughts for the Weekend

1. I am totally in love with this blogger Elisa Blaha’s “project life book“! I wish I could be that incredibly creative with photos!
2. This is me for the next 4 months of a hot, humid Southern summer. Fun!

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3. I have a new go-to snack lately – market plumcots and unsalted almonds!

4. So, I know I’m way behind all the cool kids on this one… but Will and I just finished watching the first season of Portlandia.I loved it! Plus, it’s just chock full of one-liners and inside jokes which make for endless fun. Put a bird on it!

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5. A patient told me the other day that the majority of the meat in his diet consists of pigs feet and tail! What?!?!? Is that even real food? Mmmm… I don’t think so!

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7. A girl has brought this puppy by to pet-sitting the last couple of weeks. It’s so adorable!!!! I want to keep him! The cutie just begs to be held the whole time!

8. I finally made it to the Peabody Hotel rooftop for live music and a little dancing with some of my book club/Star Runners friends. So much fun! I’ve been wanting to go up there at some point ever since I moved here.

9. Will and I joined some friends at the park along the river for the Sunset Symphony and fireworks. What a great, chill way to spend the evening!

10. So happy to have an extra day off tomorrow for Memorial Day!!!!

Warm Beet Quinoa Salad

Summer is almost here and the farmers market is bursting with tasty fruits and veggies! One vegetable I’m loving now? BEETS! When I’ve made them with Will in the past we just wrapped them in aluminum and baked them until fork-tender. Unfortunately, I ran out of foil at home and I really wanted some beets! So, I just boiled them until soft.  One word of advice, don’t do what I did in the past and try to chop them when still raw! These guys are super tough and I walked around with purple fingers for at least a day. Ha! After they were finished I just peeled the skin away and chopped them all up to add to salads/dishes throughout the week.

Like this!
Today for dinner, I threw some beets into some quinoa. A delicious combo! Easy too. 
Warm Beet Quinoa Salad
Serves 2
Ingredients:
– 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
– 1/2 cup water
– 1/2 cup vegetable stock
– 3/4 cup chopped beets
– 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
– 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
– 1 tbsp capers
– Salt, pepper, and rosemary to taste
Directions:
1. Bring stock and water to boil in small saucepan. Add quinoa and simmer covered for ~10 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. 
2. Stir in all the other ingredients and serve!
Feta or goat cheese would surely be awesome additions – I sadly didn’t have any on hand. 

Eat Your Broccoli!

If you ever heard the words “you have to eat your broccoli” at the dinner table when you were young, your parents was right! Broccoli and other vegetables (such as brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, bok choy, etc) belong the the cruciferous or Brassica family. More and more research has found that these veggies are indeed nutrition powerhouses. I recently joined the list-serv for the oncology practice group for dietitians so I’ve been seeing a lot of information of how a healthy diet can be a powerful defense against cancer. Here’s why just one food, broccoli, is so special…

  • Broccoli and other vegetables in the Brassica family contain sulfur-based compounds called glucosinolates.
  • Glucosinolates are the compound that lends these vegetables the majority of their flavor. 
  • When these vegetables are chopped or chewed, the glucosinolates come in contact with enzymes which break it down into 2 other powerful cancer-preventing substances – Indole-3-Carbinol and Isothiocyanates. All these compounds work as antioxidants in the body helping to prevent damage to DNA which can lead to cancer formation. They can also alter cell-signalling so damaged (cancerous) cells do not keep reproducing. 
  • Numerous case-control studies have suggested that there may be a link between decreased cancer risk and cruciferous vegetable consumption in individuals – especially for lung and digestive tract cancers. True, these studies are mostly just observation and cannot prove causation – ie. you can’t tell someone that they will not get cancer if they eat lots of broccoli. However, it is proof enough to encourage people to eat more vegetables!
  • For example, Tang et al conducted a case-control study on lung cancer risk in smokers, former smokers, and non-smokers based on their consumption of cruciferous vegetables. The conclusion? Regardless of smoking status, those who consumed >16 servings per month of cruciferous vegetables had a significant reduction in lung cancer risk. Also, eating >4.5 servings per month of raw cruciferous vegetables reduced the risk even more if you were a former smoker!

One interesting thing about these cancer fighting compounds is that it has to come from the whole food or it doesn’t work as well. Researchers are able to isolate many specific compounds in foods and provide it as a supplement. Yet, they do not see as much of a significant reduction in cancer as with the whole food. Just think, this is only one example of how your body can do really amazing things with the food that you eat. All the more reason to eat wholesome, real food! I love the way that Michael Pollan says it, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”.

References:

– Tang L, Zirpoli GR, Jayaprakash V, Reid ME, McCann SE, Nwogu CE, Zhang Y, Ambrosone CB, and Moysich KB.“Cruciferous Vegetable Intake is Inversely Associated with Lung Cancer Risk Among Smokers: A Case-Control Study”.  BMC Cancer. 2010; 162. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2407/10/162

– Linus Pauling Institute, “Cruciferous Vegetables”. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/foods/cruciferous/

Weekend Highlights

It is terrible if I wonder if I’ll always be “living for the weekend”? I’ve only been working at my 8-4:30 job for over a year and a half! Not that I don’t really enjoy my job (most days!) – it can be rewarding interacting with Vets and listening to their stories or joking with some of the ones on the residential ward who have dubbed me Taylor Swift. Ha!
Like last weekend, this one was pretty chill. Friday night, we went to our friend Josh’s house to hang out and enjoy some tasty pizza. At one point the conversation turned to ideas for the next big-money making phone app. I think we came up with some pretty creative ones! Saturday, I was up bright and early to meet Emily at the Greenline for a 9-mile run. I’m really bad at making sure I have Gu on hand for fuel… Since it was too late in the evening to hit up the running store, I bought some Starbursts and surprisingly, I feel like they worked pretty well! Sugar = happy muscles! However, I really wish I could come up with a way to make my own natural fuel for runs. I’d feel much better eating something made of fruit than just candy! Hmmm… After my run, I raced back downtown to the farmer’s market for pet-sitting. It was a fun day to pet-sit since this group of silk acrobats had set up right in front of our tent! I could not imagine flipping around in the air like they did. No thank you!

In the evening, Will and I packed up a little picnic of salad, brie and crackers then walked to Overton Park for a free concert at the Levitt Shell. What a great way to enjoy live music! We were even able to bring Honey along join in the fun.

After a short trip to Whole Foods early this afternoon, I’ve been attached to my couch the majority of the day. I just finished the second book in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series! Both that first book and this one, The Girl Who Played with Fire, were a bit slow to start but once the plot picked up, the thick novel hardly left my hands!  I was totally absorbed. Now I finally understand why all my coworkers at the Bodies Museum last year were so caught up in it. I’ll definitely be making a trip to the library soon so I can hopefully finish off the series soon!

Music to My Ears

One of the things I look forward to after a long day at work is changing into comfy clothes, browsing blogs, and listening to great music. Music can be so soothing – one of the best things after a long day charting, precepting interns, fielding diet complaints, and counselling patients. Here are some of the tunes I have been digging lately!

– Angus and Julia Stone: “Just a Boy” and “Devil’s Tears”
– William Fitzsimmons: “Good Morning”
– Ingrid Michaelson: “The Way I Am”
– The Honey Trees: “To Be With You”
– Priscilla Ahn: “Dream”
– Missy Higgins: “Where I Stood”
– 4AM: “Kaskade”
– Ellie Goulding: “I’ll Hold My Breath”
– Greg Laswell: “Comes and Goes”
– Bon Iver: “Blood Bank”
– Foster the People: “Waste”
– Of Monsters and Men: “Little Talks”