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!!

image

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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Double Duty Workout

Another evening of LA adventures last month took me to LA Boulders, “a bouldering gym with 12,000 square feet of climbing terrain.” So once again in the spirit of “trying new things” I joined my bestie, Katierose, for an evening of acro yoga and bouldering!

So LA Boulders is an interesting mix of a gym with cardio equipment and weights, rock climbing walls, and an upstairs studio for yoga classes. If I thought lady jazz class was outside my comfort zone, well acro yoga was doubly so! While I’ve taken plenty of yoga, Katie warned me this is nothing like your typical yoga class. So upon arrival to the yoga studio (which required scaling a small section of the rock climbing wall to get to the top—not as scary as it sounds), the class had begun and everyone was sitting in a circle with their arms around the person next to them. We found a spot to squeeze in and began swaying back and forth. Already I was thinking, “what on Earth?!” and “this is so not my thing”, but alas I eventually understood the purpose of this warm-up. We were not just getting our bodies loosened but we were also gaining trust and closeness in our fellow classmates. After some additional warm-up “trust” and “balance” exercises with a partner we were ready to begin.

In ongoing rotations of three to four people we practiced about four to five different “therapeutic and acrobatic poses with a partner” that got progressively more difficult! I definitely enjoyed being a “flyer” over a “base”. But it was amazing to see the kind of strength that we are capable of when we focus on breathing and using our core. And here are a few photos that Katie captured of me in both roles!

Acro yoga 1

Base work is hard work

acro yoga 2

Flyer…wheeeeee

After this we moved on to the bouldering portion of the evening. We changed into our rock climbing shoes (which feel so funny to wear—your toes kind of curl inside) and off we went. In the past I’ve done the kind of rock climbing where you are harnessed and have someone belaying you as you go.

Post-bouldering and feeling strong!

Post-bouldering and feeling strong!

But this was different in that you aren’t connected to anything—it’s just you and the wall. Luckily nothing is too high to jump off when you are stuck and the padded floor makes for a smooth landing. There are a number of different colored rocks spread out all around the gym and varying skill levels to brave (we focused mainly on Level 1).

Katie’s friend, Kieran (another Jersey girl now LA dweller) joined us for the fun. And that it was! I found this very enjoyable because it’s less so about strength, but rather about strategy, flexibility, and core. A good brain test too!

We are so badass

Don’t mess with KSK…Kieran, Sallyann and Katierose!

I’m so excited to find a local bouldering place (and perhaps acro yoga too) and look forward to reporting back to my readers.

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And All That Jazz

A few weeks ago I was visiting the great city of Los Angeles to spend a few days with family and friends. It was a great and a refreshing time to get away from the DC rat race. I always enjoy going back to my roots (yes I’m a real native Angelino) and what’s not to love about LA—the weather, the West coast (more laid back) attitude, the glitz and glam (as long as kept in perspective)!

The first night I arrived was lady jazz night! As background, I was visiting Katierose—one of my dearest friends from high school. She and her boyfriend are talented actors and watching them grow their passion day-by-day always inspires me to do the things I love. Katie is my adventuresome, fun-loving friend who has always encouraged me to move outside my comfort zone and try new things. Thank you for that, Katie! So in that vein of trying new things, off we went to lady jazz class.

Now you might be wondering, what exactly is lady jazz class? Well it’s just what it sounds like—a group of ladies meeting each Friday evening at a dance studio to learn a new routine! This idea had been brewing in Katie’s head for many months. In our image-focused culture, dance classes, in her mind, had begun to bleed into the greater world of exercise classes where halfway through the class the instructor calls out, “ok folks, let’s Ladies Jazz, April 2015grab the mats and start our ab routine.” Katie decided an end must come to this madness and it was time to bring dance back to its purest form (after all dancing on its own is a great workout without having to be identified as an exercise class). So with that vision she and her dance instructor friend, Paula, created a space where their friends could take a dance class each week to learn a new routine that Paula would teach every 3-4 weeks. And with that a good old fashioned ladies dance class was born!

Upon arrival that evening at our dance class destination—a ballet school where young girls were finishing up classes (and making us really feel like “old ladies”)—we met up with Katie’s friends who came out for the inaugural class. I quickly learned that this was a low-key, non-judgmental atmosphere where we were all free to be no matter the skill level. And luckily I was not the only one who felt like I had two left feet!

Ladies Jazz 3, April 2015We did a little warmup and soon Paula was teaching us a fun and sexy little dance to the tune of Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend. Think jazz hands, grapevine, chasse’ and ball change (those are the only dance steps/moves that came to mind for this non-dancer) and other moves blending together for the first part of this song. It was a lot of fun; we laughed at our missteps and took pleasure when everything came together! Now that a few weeks have passed I’m sure the group has completely mastered the entire song and I’ll be interested in hearing what’s up their sleeve next! Lyrical jazz is the word on the street…

Ladies Jazz 2, April 2015So what about you? Do you miss the days when you just went out for a run without your Fitbit, took a dance class without the built-in ab routine, or just took a walk around the neighborhood to smell the roses! I’m just as guilty as you in tracking time, miles, and goals, but finding new ways to make your exercise routine fun will be rewarding and you may not even realize you’ve broken a sweat!

If you live in the Los Angeles area and would like to know how to get involved in this ladies’ dance class (or know of some fun dance classes in the greater DC-area) post a comment or send me a message.

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Get Up And Go: A Marathon Story

Last fall I had four friends (yes four!) run their first marathon!  I am so proud of each of them in different ways and grateful for their friendships and how each has helped me to grow as a person.  Running may seem like an individual sport, but it’s also a team sport especially through the grueling days of training!  And while I wasn’t able to get to Ohio to cheer on my good friend Nicole, I was with her in spirit!  I ran with her on some hot training runs last summer…and left her before she was done because, well, I just wasn’t in training shape for doing 10+ miles on a random Saturday.  She has been my go-to work buddy (we all need one of them!) and is the one who introduced me to the best workout group in the world–SealTeamPT!  May her story inspire you to get up and go..

Guest Blogger: Nicole Tidwell

As it finally is starting to warm up, I’ve been thinking about getting back out there and running more consistently again. Looking for some motivation, I was scrolling through some emails and stumbled upon a quote that I had earmarked when I first started running (fall 2010) for moments like this:

I think about all those who can’t run. Then, I think about what my life would be like if I couldn’t run. That alone provides me enough motivation to get out the door. We don’t have to run, we get to.

I also found this blog entry that I wrote up two months after my first marathon in October 2014 and I am definitely more inspired to get back out there!

*****

“It’s official, I am CRAZY & registered for a marathon!” That was the subject of an email I sent to a select few in late July 2014. I was several weeks into my 18 weeklong marathon-training plan and I decided to finally bite the bullet and register for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Marathon in Columbus, Ohio. As I said in that email “there was no turning back now that I’m registered and you know!”

I always thought marathons were crazy. I remember crossing the finish line of my first half marathon thinking “yea right, I will NEVER double what I just did.” Well two years later, I did.

The race turned out to be a lot of fun and I was pretty much on happy juice the whole time! I had no idea what I was in for but I knew I was prepared and knew I would finish one way or the other. (Thankfully I crossed it smiling, feeling good and happy with my time of 4:47). Nicole marathon 3The crowd was amazing! The course was the perfect one for me – a tour of my hometown with some particularly cool spots to run through that I have countless memories of growing up. (As a Buckeye fan, the coolest thing though was running through the tunnel onto the OSU football field!) My friends and family were throughout the course cheering me on! And afterwards they threw a party for me! Nicole marathon 2

A lot of people questioned my sanity, why I was doing it and what I hoped to get out of running a marathon. Those 18 weeks of training were a blur of short and long runs and a lot of time to ponder my latest challenge/goal.

The training was painfully boring at times until I figured out I needed to train with people, whether it be friends from boot camp or complete strangers, to get through those long Saturday runs. I found a great running group in DC (Pacers) that required just showing up bright and early at 6:45 on Saturdays to check in & hit the streets complete with course maps and a sampling of running gels and other aids.

Nicole marathon 1The training was full of physical and mental tests: I got my first blister! (I thought it was my badge of honor!) I strained several muscles in my right leg and had a lovely limp for about 10 weeks as a result. On race day my right side (from my ankle to my hip) was covered in bright purple KT sports tape. (I don’t know how that stuff works, but it was a godsend). I was mad because I gave up drinking (& basically as a result being social) during training. I’m pretty sure I covered every range of emotions on long runs from dread at the beginning, to indifference, to rage, to disappointment, to crying to jubilee when it was done!

But throughout my actual race and training (during runs and in between runs), I kept coming back to a variety of thoughts, most of which are applicable to life in general:

• If you want it, go for it.
• Don’t give up.
• The only thing preventing you from running a marathon is your own list of excuses.
• Be patient.
• Be your own hero.
• It’s not always fun, but ultimately there is a reward at the end – satisfaction that you pushed through.

So to sum it up, why did I run a marathon or any race? The peace of mind it gave me and the calming effect it had on me through an extremely shitty year.

An article in the December 2014 Runner’s World, “The Write Runner” by Michael Heald explains it perfectly:

Nicole marathon 5It’s about staying fit and pushing yourself to achieve and surpass goals. It’s also about personal and spiritual growth, creativity, mental clarity and emotional stability. I find these things in running.

And now I’ve got to lace up new shoes and get back out there!

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