I Am Spartan!

What do thousands of people who wake up on a Saturday morning to run through the woods, crawl through mud under barbed wire and jump over burning logs have in common? They all have a little crazy inside of them. Clearly I am one of those people!  Yes, some people’s worst nightmare is our idea of a good time!

On August 1, five of my friends (including one who was 7-months pregnant) from boot camp and I took part in the Spartan Sprint DC race. These obstacle-course races have become a pretty big thing over the last few years and I was excited to try this one in particular.  I signed up for it back in December and now it was here! image image imageimage image image

image   image image Luckily our group was in the early wave of athletes when the temperatures were a bit more bearable. We trudged through the woods for a bit before nearing the first set of walls to climb over which to my relief weren’t too bad! But things would get harder (and muddier) as we got further along.

The 24 obstacles ranged from walls to climb over, mud pits to slide into, and quick sand-like trails to traverse. The toughest? It varied by person and working together as a team you quickly learned each person’s strengths and weaknesses. For me I found that even though I completed it, carrying a bucket of rocks around a trail was one of the toughest. The rope climb in the muddy water was all but impossible, despite the fact that I have climbed one before but doing so from waist deep water with wet shoes and clothes adds a whole other challenge. Another tough one–rings that you had to get across monkey-bar style. My arms were so shot by that point that I just gave up and opted for burpees. And that’s another thing, whenever you couldn’t complete an obstacle you had to knock out 30 burpees.  We did many of them as a team counting out loud when we reached 10 as we do in our morning workouts. By the end if we never had to do a burpee again I think we’d be content!!

image image image image image image image image image image image image image imageFavorite obstacles–muddy hills that we climbed up and slid into muddy water, and the last one of mud crawls under barbed wire. Hmm, wonder what that says about me?

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Overall, it was a fun race that taught us all about teamwork, humility and strength. Who’s ready to join me for the next one?

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Chicago In A Day By Boat, Foot and Bike

A few weeks ago I visited the great city of Chicago for the first time! I paired a work trip with a day off and had the opportunity to visit my good friend (and old roomie) and her family. If you haven’t been to Chicago I highly recommend you go in July. Weather was perfect and everyone was out and about to celebrate the temps after a long cold winter.

I was in the middle of my IDLife 28-day Challenge and I will be the first to admit that the challenge took a bit of a hiatus while there. It’s really hard to go to a city and not want to try the foods which are more often than not the foods that aren’t so healthy for you. On Sunday I explored the West End where my friends live. It’s the former meat packing district that has been transformed into cool restaurants where the outdoor seating is in the alleyways. Very clever. We had delicious bbq at Green Street Smoked Meats, and my pulled pork sandwich seriously rivaled NC and TX BBQ. Who knew the Midwest had it in them! For dinner my friends grilled shrimp and orzo, and we made panzanella salad and homemade chocolate shaved mint ice cream topped with chocolate gelato. Mmm mmm good.

image image image  The following day was exploration for me. Here’s a snapshot of my day off exploring the Windy City:

10 am: Wendella architecture river and lake boat tour
This is a must way to explore and get your bearings straight (especially for first time visitors). I was amazed at not only how old some of the buildings were, but also the thought and care taken in designing the city. I especially loved all the old bridges we passed under.

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11:30 am-1 pm: Magnificent Mile and lunch at Lou Malanati’s
I made my way down Michigan Avenue where a bunch of the upscale shops are located. Although I didn’t shop I don’t think I even made it all the way to the really swanky shops (so perhaps I did the Magnificent 1/2 Mile?!). My hunger was getting the best of me so it was time for deep-dish Chicago-style pizza–another must. I ordered the $9 lunch special of a side salad, personal pizza and soda (root beer). The pizza was just the perfect size with a crisp buttery crust that melted in my mouth. Wisconsin cheese was the first layer, then the sauce (could taste the tomatoes), and sausage (which I learned has the kind of status that pepperoni has on pizza back East, it was one big piece across the pizza, not diced as you would find on East coast which I found interesting and slightly disturbing at the same time). I added some hot peppers and a little salt, pepper and Parmesan for some extra zing. Overall, pleased at my first deep dish experience (at least straight from Chicago), but next time I’ll go for mushrooms over sausage. I am, however, partial to New York style.

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1-2 pm: Walk along the Riverfront
Walked over one of the old bridges and meandered along the riverfront. So many people were out and about enjoying their afternoon and eating lunch with colleagues. There are a number of little restaurants and places to rent kayaks along the way.

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2-3:30: Navy Pier
I continued my trek to the Navy Pier which honestly felt like a bit of a tourist trap. There is a small amusement park there, a mini-indoor mall, and an indoor garden. It was hot out there! I treated myself to some Garret’s popcorn (another Chicago favorite) before heading to the next adventure.

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3:30-5 pm: Bike along Lake Michigan
The only other Great Lake I’ve ever seen is Lake Superior and you can read about the running adventure here. The Great Lakes fascinate me probably because I grew up going to the ocean and to me a lake is much much smaller. I felt drawn to finding one of the beaches along Lake Michigan and knew the fastest way to see a lot along the trail would be by bike. Luckily there is a bike share service called Divvy (cost me all of $9). Once I was able to figure out the system and popped a bike out of its holder I was off to the races. After a few miles I found two different beaches which reminded me of a lake park beach that we went to as kids back in NJ called the Sportsman’s Club. After a good trek in the bike it was time to make my way back. I had one more stop to go.

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5-6 pm: Millennium Park
At last I made my way to another Chicago destination and boy was it crowded! I took a bunch of photos of the surrounding area and the park itself. Most famous being the Bean, a silver bean shaped structure that provides an amazing reflection of the city scape. Little did I know, but before the park was built in 1997, the area sat as an industrial wasteland. Certainly nothing like that anymore!

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It was a full and very rewarding day to explore a city by boat, foot and bike! And my Fitbit set a new record logging in at 27K steps (over 10 miles). Fun times!

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UnStoppaBULL!

In October I’m making my way down to my old stomping grounds of Durham, NC to visit a friend and run the Quintiles Bull City Race Fest Half Marathon. It’s been over a year since I’ve run a half marathon and I’m looking forward to training for a longer distance race. There is nothing like a good fall race!

And pretty neat but I thought I’d share that I was selected to be part of the UnStoppaBULLS Team to help promote the race! Sixty runners were chosen for their “[familiarity] with Durham, the race and [having] an active social media life.” The race administrators also noted the following which was so encouraging to hear, “This means we consider you a thought leader and inspiration in the running community and we are very excited to have you on our team.”

Excited to get started and get back to dear old Durham very soon!!

#UnstoppaBULLS #RunBullCity

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Summer Salads

In addition to the Greek salad I made the other day, I also prepped a Cucumber and Israeli Cous Cous Salad that will last me through most of the week. There were a few ingredients that I was missing like the parsley (I used fresh basil), scallions/chives (I added garlic), romaine lettuce (I used spinach).  And I do think having those ingredients would have made this much better!  You can add other ingredients to your heart’s content–beans like garbanzo or kidney, veggies like corn or peppers.  It is healthy and light–eat it cool or warm it up, both ways taste great!  Trader Joe’s sells Israel Cous Cous in the grains aisle and you save a lot compared to other things like quinoa.  So it’s a really affordable and easy to make meal!

Israeli Cous Cous Salad with a side 1/2 cup of blueberries and a slice of toasted whole wheat bread with organic honey.

Israeli Cous Cous Salad with a side 1/2 cup of blueberries and a slice of toasted whole wheat bread with organic honey.

Cucumber and Israeli Couscous Salad

Courtesy of NYT Cooking

Nutritional Info per serving

231 calories; 10 grams total fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 7 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 31 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams dietary fiber; 32 milligrams sodium; 6 grams protein

Ingredients

  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • cup Israeli couscous
  • 6 to 8tablespoons fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • 3cups chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (from 3 large bunches)
  • ¼cup chopped fresh mint
  • ½ pound ripe tomatoes, very finely chopped
  • ¾ pound cucumbers (1 European or 4 Persian), seeded if using regular cucumbers, cut in fine dice
  • bunch scallions, finely chopped, or 1/4 cup chopped chives
  • Salt to taste
  • romaine lettuce heart, leaves separated, washed and dried

Instructions

1. Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan and add the couscous. Stir until the couscous begins to color and smell  toasty, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 2 cups water and salt to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes, or until the couscous is tender. Drain if any liquid remains in the pan.

2. Transfer the couscous to a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice, parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions or chives and salt to taste. Add the olive oil, toss together, taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with lettuce leaves.

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Skinny Greek-Style Chicken Spinach Salad

Well I made it to Day 4 of my 28-day challenge. With the weekend I will admit to having a few cheats (i.e.: pizza for lunch on Saturday), but overall have been fairly regimented. Today was a great day for a double duty workout (bike ride on the trail–definitely one of my happy places–and a swim at my pool). I was energized after giving my body a rest on Saturday and the beautiful weather made me want to be outside.

But before getting out there I did take some time to prepare two dishes. Here is one that is easy and delicious! I’ll post the other later this week

Skinny Greek-Style Chicken Spinach Salad.

courtesy of skinny kitchen.com

Greek salad with a plain ear of corn on the side

Greek salad with a plain ear of corn on the side

Ingredients

Dressing

1/4 cup light balsamic, vinaigrette, or Caesar dressing (I used light champagne dressing)

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon dried oregano

Salad

6 cups fresh spinach leaves

1 cup chicken breast chopped and cooked (optional–season to taste)

1 cup chopped cucumbers

1 cup chopped red, yellow or orange bell pepper

1 cup grape tomatoes, whole or halved

1/3 cups finely chopped red onions

Toppings

1/4 cup fat-free feta cheese

5 kalamata olives, pitted and sliced

1. In a small bowl add dressing ingredients and mix together. Refrigerate until ready to toss the salad.

2. In a large bowl, add all salad ingredients. Toss with dressing.

3. Divide salad among 2 plates. Top each salad with cheese and olives

Makes 2 main course salads (each salad about 4 cups)

Nutrition Facts: for 1 main course salad including olives on top
281 calories, 10g fat, 30g protein, 19g carbs, 5g fiber, 321mg sodium, 3g sugar

Bon Appetit!!

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Ready…Set…Go…It’s Challenge Time!

I recently posted about my new business venture and today I invite you to join me in a health and fitness challenge for the next 28 days. I encourage you to follow my progress through the blog and use social media to brag about your journey, #IDTransformation, #MyIDTChallenge.
First–some background. IDLife developed its signature IDTransformation (ID-T for short) as a means to helping people transform themselves both physically and emotionally. After all, it’s clear that when we feel better physically our emotional state improves just as much. The ID-T is a plan that incorporates the IDLife ancillary product line as part of your diet to facilitate healthier choices throughout your day.  And for those who want to ramp it up a notch, ID-T can be taken to the next level through one of three ID Challenges–Weight Loss, Fit, and Performance. These challenges build upon the ID-T and complement IDNutrition, the company’s signature and revolutionary monthly nutrition program that is tailored to the individual.
So you may be wondering, how do the challenges work? Without giving all the secrets away, each plan is built around 2-week increments (4 weeks overall) providing a structure for when to eat your snacks and meals, how much water to stay hydrated throughout the day, and suggestions for good sleep.  Individuals can alternate their breakfast or lunch for an IDLife Shake and control their appetites with healthy HIS, HER, or KIDS bars, or appetite control chews. Meal planning is made easier with shopping lists and recipes that can be downloaded from the IDLife My Wellness online program. Exercise time is built-in as well, but doesn’t limit you to what you can choose to do for your 30-60 minutes of physical activity. If you like hiking, go hike. If you like swimming, go swim. However, if you do want additional advice for exercise options there are great articles included as part of the online program’s offerings and I am more than happy to offer suggestions or direct you to personal trainers or workout groups to get involved with. The online program allows you to keep track of your accomplishments each day and track your goals over the 28-day period and more long-term.  My favorite part–the cute avatar that resembles what you look like now (with current measurements and weight) and what you’ll look like in the future after all the hard work has been put in.
The plans have something for everyone, regardless of where you are on your journey. Everything was designed with the individual in mind to help you establish healthy habits (and break the bad ones) that will stick with you for life.
I plan to start my challenge tomorrow and wrap it up just as my vacation is beginning–I think that’s a good incentive right before I hit the beach, don’t you? I welcome accountability partners to the mix so if you want to learn more please reach out to me! And as an added bonus, there are awesome cash incentives being offered this month for getting involved that you won’t want to miss!!  Yes, I did mention cash–all for telling your story and getting your friends involved!
Here’s to endless summer days and good health!
IDLife photo
All IDLife products are organic and/or all-natural, GMO-free, casein-free, gluten-free, and soy-free with no artificial sweeteners. IDNutrition product ingredients are on the FDA G.R.A.S (generally regarded as safe) list and are designated “Pharmaceutical Grade.” 
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Living Your Individually Designed Life

As you have no doubt gathered from following my blog, I am an avid fitness enthusiast. While the blog began as a way to help me track my adventures in running while I prepared for races, it has turned into so much more. A friend once told me how much the blog inspired her and that meant so much to me! If through my writing and experiences I can touch someone in even just a small way, then it’s serving its purpose. I truly believe that through an active life we are better able to see the reality of the dreams that we want for ourselves. Fitness has always been a part of my life since a young age and as I’ve gotten older I’ve had the pleasure of seeing my strength and speed improve. But it’s more than just the stats…it’s about the belief in knowing that I am capable of accomplishing anything I put my mind to, whether those running shoes are on or off! Over the last few years I’ve also learned that it’s not just about leaning on my own strength to get there but trusting God more in that process.

Over the last 8 (almost) years, my career has been in health policy and communications. I know that my work, through the policies and programs I’ve helped put in place or improve upon, has had an impact on the lives of others. I will admit, though, that what is sometimes missing for me is an “on the ground” perspective. My blog, to some degree, has provided me an opportunity to express my voice on things that I am passionate about. And just recently I’ve stumbled upon another vehicle for helping people take control of their lives and health.

That vehicle comes through the form of nutrition with a revolutionary new company called IDLife. They have created a monthly nutrition program that is personalized to you! In today’s world personalization and individualization is all around us–from the protective covers we purchase for our cell phones to the variety of individually tailored workout programs we have at our fingertips. So why should something as important as your health be any different? Well ID Life has utilized thousands of peer-reviewed, clinical research studies and 17 years of research to create the first truly customized supplementation platform!

The program starts with an online HIPPA-compliant personalized health assessment that walks you through a series of questions related to diet and exercise, illness and medication, and family medical history. Within seconds of completing the assessment your information is run against IDLife’s extensive database of information populated and backed by the thousands of 3rd party clinical studies referenced earlier–and you are provided with your very own personalized nutrition plan.

In my short time with IDLife I have learned why the right supplementation is important to help fuel our bodies and that, unfortunately, relying just on our food supply is not enough. The medications we take everyday can also deplete our bodies of vital nutrients. I am truly convinced that in just a few years time, the “multivitamin” will be a thing of the past just like the VCR.

I’m thrilled to introduce you to this amazing company as it is changing lives in so many positive ways and helping people achieve their dreams. I’ve provided a snapshot of all it has to offer and I’d love to schedule time to chat with you and share more. Plus, we have an awesome June promotion that you won’t want to miss!!

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All IDLife products are organic and/or all-natural, GMO-free, casein-free, gluten-free, and soy-free with no artificial sweeteners. IDNutrition product ingredients are on the FDA G.R.A.S (generally regarded as safe) list and are designated “Pharmaceutical Grade.” Get started today!

http://mileonecounting.idlifeoffice.com

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