Monday, February 29, 2016

Rest Is A Four Letter Word

So, if you've spent any time in your life on an exercise program, you've probably heard that you should have some designated rest days.  These days are supposed to be times for the muscles to heal from all of the damage that you've unleashed upon them.  Perhaps they are intended as a special time for self-reflection and stretching, or maybe a leisurely walk around the block.  Any runner will tell you that rest days are an integral part of any good training program.  However, ain't nobody got time for that!

I don't think I've had many intentional rest days.  They usually come as a result of injury, extreme weather conditions, or sheer boredom with a training plan.  The countdown on the race calendar does not stop  while you take a break right?  Wrong.  My body is dead.  It decided at some point last week that it was just over me and all of the things that I wanted to do.  What's that Natasha?  You'd like to run hill intervals, lift heavy and then go to the pool for some laps?  I'll show you!  So now I'm sidelined with my back and hip hurting, bunion throbbing, and eyes rolling cause I need to get back to it.  I didn't feel so good on Saturday so naturally I thought it would be a good idea to run 8 miles at dawn on Sunday morning.  The run was amazing!  The cold that I have now, not so much.

Listen to your bodies people!  Your body always knows what it needs.  I know that Rome was not built in a day, but I am always afraid of losing momentum.  I'm afraid that 1 day off will turn into 100 and my motivation will be lost forever.  (Also, the way I eat, exercising is really not optional!) Tonight, while I take my NyQuil shots and groan in bed, I will be secretly plotting my next escape to the trail or the gym or the pool.  I'll just have to wait another day or two.

Happy Resting!


Monday, February 15, 2016

Whatcha Got Cookin', Good Lookin'?

"The secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside." -- Mark Twain

I love food. I like eating it, I like buying it, and I like talking about it. Tell me about a good restaurant, and I'll probably eat there at my next opportunity. As a self-proclaimed chubster, this is probably not something I should be admitting in public... and certainly not something I should admit to on this blog! But in the in spirit of transparency, here I am! Waving my foodie flag proudly, and asking for forgiveness. 

As a food lover, you would think that I enjoy cooking, right? Well... I often joke that the best thing I make is reservations :) It's not that I can't cook, mind you, because I totally can. I just choose to be lazy! Why? Well, it's oftentimes cheaper for me to eat out than eat in, and cooking for one is hard when you hate leftovers. Oh, and I really hate doing dishes afterwards. All this being said, I know that this is a bad habit that I really need to kick so I've been trying (with varying results) to do the same for the last few months. 

In an attempt to save my health (and my sanity), I've been looking for the easiest version of my favorite foods to recreate at home. My rules are simple - it has to cost less than eating out, has to take around 30 minutes from prep to plate, and it has to taste and look good. Sound good? Let's begin!

Honey Mustard Pork Tenderloin

  • Pork tenderloin - small
  • Fresh rosemary 
  • Honey mustard - 4-6 tablespoons, depending on the size of your pork tenderloin
    • For the adventurous, I would use this recipe. I tried it, and totally approve of it. It's easy and very tasty! I add crushed pecans or walnuts if I make my own, but you don't have to do that. 
    • For the lazy, I would buy honey mustard of your choosing. My favorite? Terrapin Ridge Farms Pecan Honey Mustard, which you can buy online here. It's all-natural, gluten-free, and vegan friendly :)
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. You should also prep your baking pan at this time. I like using Pyrex, which I lightly grease with olive oil (just coating the bottom). If you use a metal pan, however, you should line it with foil and use a greased rack.
  2. Baste the tenderloin in the pan using the honey mustard. (Recommendation: If using a store bought honey mustard, take about 5 tablespoons and microwave until very soft. For the Terrapin Ridge Honey Mustard, I microwave it for about 30 seconds.) Set aside the remaining 2-3 tablespoons for additional basting while cooking. 
  3. Top the tenderloin with rosemary. If you leave the tenderloin whole, use 4 sprigs and place them diagonally along the length of the tenderloin. If you cut the tenderloin prior to cooking (as pictured), lay one sprig of rosemary on top of each cut tenderloin slice. 
  4. Bake the tenderloin in the oven uncovered, occasionally basting with the remaining honey mustard glaze as needed. Cook for approximately 25 minutes, or until your meat thermometer reads 150 degrees. 
  5. Allow the meat to stand for five minutes before serving.
Nutritional Information:

For a 3oz serving (pictured with Terrapin Ridge Honey Mustard, less vegetable side): 212 calories, 7.5 g of fat (1 g saturated), 62 mg cholesterol, 18 g total carbohydrates (9 sugars), 368 mg sodium, 22 g protein. [Values will be slightly higher with homemade honey mustard using the recipe linked above]

Fast Food Burrito

  • 1 slice of flatbread (I recommend and use Flatout Flatbread - Light Original)
  • 1 small chicken breast (alternative - 1 turkey burger patty; different texture but great taste)
  • 1/4 cup (or 1 slice) of jalapeƱo jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup black beans
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro (optional)

  1. Lightly toast the flatbread in a pan on the stove. I use a quick spritz of olive oil on the pan so it won't stick, but you can skip that step if you have a non-stick pan. 
  2. Thoroughly cook the chicken breast (I like to do this on a Foreman grill, which takes about 5-6 minutes). Slice the chicken breast into strips and set aside.
  3. Lay the flatbread flat on a plate. Layer the slices of chicken breasts on the flatbread, and top with the black beans and cilantro if desired. Top with cheese, and wrap tightly.
  4. Place the burrito back in the pan, cooking for about 30 seconds or until the cheese melts. 
Nutritional Information:

For one serving/one burrito: 412 calories, 20.8 g fat, 577.5 mg sodium, 37.6 g carbs (12.4 g fiber/1.3 g sugar), and 36.2 g protein.  (Compare to Chipotle, which would be approx. 700 calories, 25.5 g fat, 69 g carbs (15.5 g fiber/1 g sugar), and 52 g protein)


Hope you enjoy the easy-peasy meals I have shared with you here. They're definitely worth trying if you're looking for something tasty and easy. My goal for the remainder of the month is to eat at home more often than I eat out. I know this is a pathetic goal for most people, but it will be harder for me than you think. Do you have any easy recipes you'd like to share? Please do! As I play with more food options and recipes at home, I'll try to remember to share them here. Until next time, have a happy and healthy week!



Thursday, February 11, 2016

Guest Post: Awesome Anushika's Virtual Runs (#SoMuchGood with the Hogwarts Running Club!)

I've introduced the awesome Anushika ("Shika") in previous blog posts, but only recently thought to ask her to do a guest post for this blog. While "Awesome Anushika," as she is known on the Mike the Fanboy fan blog, has been blogging for a while, she's relatively new to the whole race craze that Natasha and I have been into lately. It all started with an invite to join me in the Disneyland Tinkerbell 10K in May. What sounded like a crazy, lofty goal soon turned into an obsession, and well... I'll let Shika take it from here. So, without further adieu, introducing... Awesome Anushika!
Greetings awesome humans!

This one goes out to anyone struggling to get themselves out there - To anyone who thinks running is not for you... To all who believe you have to be in great shape to get out there.
Sure, I enjoyed the occasional charity race, but it wasn’t enough to motivate me to run regularly. Knowing my obsession with the Harry Potter series, your Occasionally Fit friend (Becky) introduced me to the Hogwarts Running Club. Yes people, this is a real thing. Hogwarts Running Club exits! Becky sent me a link to one of their races thinking it would be a fun thing to do together. I was pretty much hooked instantly. I kept signing up for more and more races until I ended up doing them all (during the Time Turner yearend event).

The best thing about this running club is that it's a virtual running club, so you have absolutely NO excuse not to do the races. After signing up, you can complete your miles whenever you want. You can even break the mileage into comfortable portions and complete them in different sessions. It's perfect for a person like me who loves to go out running during ungodly hours. It would be a crime not to talk about the wickedly awesome medals. If you are a Harry Potter fan, these medals are a must. They are beyond fantastic!
The club itself is absolutely amazing. They have their own Facebook group and each Hogwarts house has their own group with awesome head-girls/boys to help out all their fellow students, especially the first year "students" that are new to the group. In addition to be fan friendly, the Hogwarts Running Club does so much good! It’s definitely more than just a simple running club. It’s more like a massive fandom coming together to do so much good in every way possible. A portion of each race's proceeds go to charity, and runners also use the Charity Miles app to help even more charities while keeping track of all the exceptional miles done by all the members. (Anushika Note: If you are serious about your pace and miles, please do not rely on the app. We have experienced some glitches with its accuracy. We simply use it to earn our chosen charities funds with every mile possible.) 

On top of doing such a stellar job with all the charity races, the groups log miles daily to compete for the House Cup end of each year. I mean seriously, how fun is that? I can’t imagine a better way to keep me moving than a friendly competition with all my fellow witches and wizards.
I don’t want to ramble on and bore you guys because trust me I could go on talking about this forever. I love this running club! Go check out the Facebook groups and see if the Hogwarts Running Club is for you. They’ll have answers to all your questions. The only regret you might have is not knowing about this club sooner.

(Note from Becky: Of course, Shika would run into Harry Potter himself on the same day she did the Voldemort V-Miler)

If you aren't crazy about everything Harry Potter related, there are other virtual running websites that celebrate other randoms and causes you might be interested in. Who knows? Maybe this will help you to get back on track or bring the inner runner within you. It sure helped me to get my butt out there. I have to thank Becky big time for getting me into this. I went from being a simple walker to logging some serious miles each week. Yup, she created a monster! =D

Expecto Patronum!
Awesome Anushika

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Delusions of Grandeur


This is starting out as a rough week for me.  I try to maintain a healthy self-esteem.  I consider myself to be generally modest and humble most of the time.  Somehow, I manage to maintain and unfounded belief that I am physically capable of all things, with or without appropriate training or practice. With my half marathon date soon approaching, I figured that I should probably get off my ass and start doing some long runs (or any runs).  My last longish run was about 4 miles a couple of weeks ago.  I think I ran ten some time last summer (gulp).

Sunday, I made it out of bed for a group long run.  I lasted for 6 glorious miles.  They were only glorious after the fact of course.  Alas, every cloud has its silver lining.  I had an epiphany.  I need to start running soon and frequently if I want to have any chance of finishing my race without being picked up by the draggin' wagon (which I'm not really above, but I figure I should at least put forth some sort of effort).  I am out of shape.  My conditioning is embarrassing.

Why did I give up cardio again?  Oh yeah, for the muscles.  Running makes you feel good, but lifting makes you look good.  Decisions, decisions.  For now, I have decided to forsake all vanity in order to increase my cardiovascular endurance.  I managed a few more miles on Monday and some unintentional pool based HIIT training today.  Tomorrow is for rest and then back to business on Thursday I suppose. Now I just have to figure out how to avoid eating everything I see.

Onward and upward!


Monday, February 8, 2016

Occasionally... Lazy

"People are not lazy. They simply have impotent goals - that is, goals that do not inspire them." -- Tony Robbins

See that face? That face is the face of a girl that is not impressed... with herself. Sure, she was happy to be all self-congratulatory a few weeks ago, writing happy post-race blog recaps about two little races. (Ok, ok... the half marathon was an accomplishment worth celebrating, but that 10K? I barely showed up.) But that girl up there? She has been a lazy sloth ever since that 10K she posted about, and it's about time she live up to it.

The path to laziness started early: After months of preparation for the Star Wars Half Marathon, I told myself that I deserved a break. I had ran over 100 miles in a six week period, and nearly worn out the shoes I bought in early December. Doesn't that call for a break? Well... no. I had a 10K race just one week later, and my lack of training showed! I ran just once during that week between races, and my legs yelled at me for it. I finished, but it was lackluster to say the least. My laziness over the course of one week nearly killed me a week later. 

You'd think this poor performance would motivate me to pick up my training, right? Well... you'd think that. I started working out with a personal trainer the Monday after my 10K. Now, this has been great - I know my trainer very well, and I work out with her and a friend (buddy training) so it's a little more motivating than training on my own. But while those once a week meetings have gone well (we've only gone twice so far), I don't keep up with the intensity for the rest of the week and barely do any running at all. In fact, I only ran 3 miles the first week, and only a mile (!!!) last week. 

Oh, how I wish I wasn't living up to our blog title! Even as I finished my workout tonight, I still couldn't muster the energy to do a short run around the block tonight. Why? I have no idea. Where is my motivation hiding? I have more races planned in 2016 (at least two half marathons, and potentially several 10Ks) - why am I not running? 

I do not want this to be the end of my second running spell - I really like running, and I'd like to continue. I think the only thing that keeps me motivated, however, is a desire to meet some sort of fitness goal. While I do have those half marathons later this year, they're not for a very long time. I'm going to look for a few races between now and then to motivate me to continue (and increase) my training. Will having more goals work? We'll see... but it's worth a shot, right?

How are your exercises going so far in 2016? Still motivated? What's keeping you there? While I'm glad to be lifting weights more in 2016, I already miss my near daily runs. If you have any other ideas or tricks to keep me motivated, I'd love to hear them. Until next time...



Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Can't Stop, Won't Stop

I did it.  I finally bit the bullet and signed up for another half marathon.  Apparently the weather gods got wind of this and decided to turn the mild winter that we've been having into the frigid igloo from hell.  Last week we were gifted with an amazing surprise.  Well, maybe I was the only one who was surprised.  I'm talking about the arrival of Snowzilla (Snowmaggedon? Snowpocalypse? I forget which one.)!!!  Yes, the weatherman predicted the storm, but they also said we were getting Sandy and Joaquin and a bunch of other things that, fortunately for us, amounted to little more than a light mist in the air.  Imagine my surprise upon waking up to 30 plus inches of snow!  Now as a native-ish New Mexican, this was the greatest snowfall that I have ever witnessed.   Shortly thereafter, I witnessed something even more awe inspiring:  moms who will not be stopped!

The view up my street after the storm

 The ladies in my running club are insane and they take it as a compliment.  I'm starting to think that they take extreme weather circumstances as a personal challenge.  They certainly would not miss out on a training day just because of a little snow.  I used to be surprised to see pics of ladies running at 4,5,6 AM in 10, 15 or 20 degree weather.  Now it's just something of a new normal.  These badasses were doing treadmill long runs, videos, shoveling, P90X and whatever they could get their hands on to maintain their stamina, endurance, training schedules, and sanity.  Not to be outdone, I got out and shoveled for several hours and clawed my way out of the house to the gym.  You must get out there and you must take a selfie because if it's not posted on FB my friend, then it didn't really happen (I guess that answers the age old question about the tree falling in the woods).   

Digging out!
A week and a half later, the trails are melted (kind of) and not a whole lot safer.  Here's hoping that the 2016 Groundhog's Day prophecy holds for once.  How will you navigate your training setbacks?  What are you doing today to make sure that you get to where you want to go tomorrow, next week, and throughout the year? Let us know.  Until then, happy trails (or treadmills)!