Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Food for Thought

I was catching up on some blogs last night and came across this really interesting post over at Shut Up and Run.  In short, it was about our relationship with food, how it affects our body image and how we feel about ourselves.  At the end of the post, she asked the following questions:

Do you struggle with your own eating/weight gain/relationship with food? How does running play a part for you? Does it make you feel better about yourself, or is it merely a means of burning more calories? If you feel comfortable sharing, have you struggled with an eating disorder?

I thought about this post off and one for the past day or so - because to be honest I wasn't sure of what the answers were.   How do I feel about food?  Do I have a healthy relationship with food?  How do I feel about body image?  And why do I run? 

I will readily admit that in the past, I didn't have a healthy relationship with food.  In my very first entry  here on this blog, I wrote that I went on my first diet when I was 12...I was a heavy kid.  I still recall the taunts from kids in school, the comments from relatives who would call me fat, and even my own dad (who I think meant well in the crusty way that Asian dads do) telling me that girls weren't supposed to be fat like I was and that I would "never get a boyfriend" looking the way I did.  Hurtful?  Yes...and I'm sure that's where my body image issues come from.  While I didn't have anorexia or bulimia, I would say that I probably flirted with disordered eating for a lot of years - literally starving myself on an apple or a few rice cakes a day or obsessively counting calories in order to lose weight.

Then I had my TSN Turning Point moment (see entry here).  I can honestly say that even though it was a hard time, it truly was a gift to me.  It led me on the path to exercise and allowed me to discover running, where I now have such a different view on food and my body.  I now look at food as nourishment, fuel, and a source of enjoyment, rather than the enemy.  I still have lingering body image issues, but I want to be fit, strong and healthy, rather than just focussing on being rail thin.  As most of you know, I'm trying to lose those last stubborn 10 pounds but I'm doing it healthfully by focussing on proper nutrition and exercise, rather than the starvation tactics I would have used in the past.   Ain't no way I'm gonna abuse my body anymore!  Running gives me confidence and a reason to love and care for my body - which is why I love it and will never give it up.

Thanks for the great post, Shut Up and Run!  Love ones that make me think.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cans for Comments

As you guys all know, I'm all about the food...and at this time of year, I'm always reminded about those people who aren't as fortunate as we are to be able to food on the table.  Food is such an important thing for me and Hubs, and to think that there are people out there who don't have enough to eat honestly breaks my heart.  I've been hearing a lot lately that food banks have seen a real change in the demographic that is using the service...there's a lot of working poor who can't afford to feed their families.  I was pondering what else I can do to help the hungry...hmmmm...

Enter Cans for Comments!  This is going around in bloggieland, and it's such an awesome idea.  For December 1st - 15th, I will donate one can of food to our local food bank, the Mustard Seed, for every comment that I receive.  And as an extra incentive to leave comments, I'll also donate $1 for each comment to the food bank...so a can and $1 for each comment!  Hunger-related issues really resonate with me so I'm happy to put my money where my mouth is (pun intended).  Was that a collective groan I heard?  Heh.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Coffee...and Cake

Every month I always looking forward to my coffee date with one of my besties B...we have a standing date to meet once a month early on a Sunday morning for coffee, goodies and a chat.  We met at my last workplace and we pretty much clicked right from the very beginning - which is funny because we worked in departments who tend to be (but not always) at odds with each other...Finance and Human Resources.  It was awesome because not only did we become friends, but we worked together really well.  I'm so happy that we're still in touch!

Anyways, today was our coffee date, and I was thinking about the "goodies" portion of the program.  Normally I pick up store muffins - our favourite grocery store has these fabulous apple ginger muffins that are delicious...spicy, ginger-y and...full of fat.  Yikes!  What to do?  I dug around in my cookbooks for something that tasted good but wasn't off the charts for fat and found this little gem from one of my fave cookbooks:

Blueberry Crumb Cake - from America's Test Kitchen's Healthy Family Cookbook

makes one 8-inch square cake
serves 12

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled (this is a little less than 1/4 pound)
1 cup lowfat sour cream
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly coat an 8 inch square baking pan with baking spray. 

Pulse the two flours, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in a food processor to combine.  With the food processor running, add 5 tbsps of the melted butter and process until the flour mixture looks sandy.

Transfer 1/4 cup of the flour mixture to a medium bowl and set aside for the topping.  Add the sour cream, egg, and vanilla to the flour mixture in the food processor and pulse until the mixture just comes together, about 8 pulses (do not overmix).

Transfer the batter to a large bowl and gently fold in the blueberries with a rubber spatula.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Stir the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar and cinnamon into the reserved flour mixture.  Add the remaining tablespoon melted butter and toss gently with a fork until incorporated and some larger pea-sized crumbs have developed.  Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the batter.  (At this point, if you are making this ahead of time, you can wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 24 hours or frozen up to 1 month.  Bake as directed, increasing baking time to 40 - 45 mins if refrigerated or 55 to 60 minutes if frozen).

Bake until the topping is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Do not overbake, as it will be very dry;  err on the side of underdone when testing for doneness.

Per serving - 240 calories, 7g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 38 g carbs, 3g protein, 1g fibre, 170 mg sodium.

This was a hit!  My adjustments:  I used frozen, not fresh berries so baked it for the full 35 minutes and probably could have baked it another 5 minutes...the frozen berries made it really moist and it was just ever so slightly underdone in the middle.  I also didn't use the food processor because...well, I'm a lazy baker, so hate washing the food processor.  Yes, I know.  This cake would have been fabulous warm as the topping is sooo yummy and cinnamon-y.  Definitely a keeper!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

TPC Week 4 - And the Results Are....

My day of reckoning has arrived!  To start the day off...and to potentially work off some final calories, we went for a nice 12K run this morning downtown. After all the nasty snowy weather we've had, today turned out to be a beautiful crisp sunny morning, which was perfect for a run.  Loved it.

After our run, we got showered up and headed to where I was going to weigh in.  At this point I was dying of thirst, because I didn't drink a ton of water after the run to avoid excess water weight on the scale.  I got on the scale and....

6.8 pounds down!  YAHOOO!!!  I was soooo happy!!  Hubs had gone off shopping while I was weighing in, so I ran off to find him so I could tell him my good news...he said he's still going to "Tommy Europe" me because it ain't over till it's over...and he doesn't want me to relax and start cheating.  Ahhh...Hubs...he is such a good fella. 

I'm super happy - and it gives me even more resolve to stick with it.  December is going to be really, really, really tough as we have party after party after party to go to...and we're hosting Xmas dinner as well.  I guess the good thing about that is I can control what goes into the cooking.  The other good thing is that Fabulous Boss has given us the week off between Xmas and New Year's (see, this is why I call him fabulous!), so I can spend lots of extra time working off any caloric excesses.  I really want to start the year off feeling good and healthy, not crappy from all the holiday excesses like I have every year for as long as I can remember.  Anyways, I'm gonna stick my nose to the grindstone and work my hardest to make my goal. 


Friday, November 26, 2010

Cue Scary Music

Well, it's almost here - first weigh in is tomorrow morning!  We're going for a run first thing and then head 'er down to face my doom.  I'm hoping I made the 5 pounds - but if not, no biggie.  I'm really happy with how we've been doing - nary a chip or chocolate has passed these lips in 4 weeks - and we're both feeling pretty good overall! I'm also pleased with our workouts as well - we've been pretty consistent and have hit at least 5 times a week.  I've been lifting weights a lot lately and have been noticing improvements - I used to be able to curl 20 pounds so want to get to that point (or higher!) again.  The one thing I have noticed is that I tire more easily when I'm doing long cardio sessions - which I guess just reinforces that you can't cut back calories when training for long races - food gives you energy.  Now I actually kinda wish I'd taken pictures before I started so I could see the difference - but I'm definitely noticing the difference in my clothes and am feeling much more comfortable now.  I've seen a significant reduction in my chicken cutlets - you know, that nasty little area by my armpit.  They're more like Chicken McNuggets now...heh.

It's interesting what you notice when you cut the crap out.  The cravings - while they do hit every so often - have really gone down a lot.  We'd be cravy every day, all day at the beginning, but now it's occasional and not as strong.  Especially our sugar cravings - I do think that sugar triggers some sort of addictive quality in people - the more you have, the more you want.  When I have anything salty, I really notice how it affects me - my throat gets parched and I hate how I feel.  And this is coming from a self professed salt hound!  The last few weeks have really highlighted to me how much it's about the food - you can't exercise your way out of a bad diet.

The funniest thing is that Hubs has become a total food cop now!  We were talking about what we could eat tomorrow after weighing in to treat ourselves - something not 100% clean, but not off the charts bad either.  I suggested maybe a nice wonton soup with rice noodles...and he says "well I don't know...it's white rice noodles..."  Oy vey, I've created a monster!  Joking, I'm really glad that's he's embraced it.  Now that's not to say that we're not already dreaming of what we're going to eat after the last weigh in...gotta have something to look forward to, right?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Pressure, the Pressure...

OK, the pressure is now officially on!  The scale hasn't budged at all in the past week so I'm really going to have to ramp things up...I sense another hard cardio session tonight.  I was telling Hubs about my plight on the way to work today as I weighed myself this morning (he is officially down 7 pounds without really even trying - such a brat) and he says "well, that's it...I'm going to have to go all Tommy Europe on your ass, simple as that."  Ha!  For those of you who don't know who Tommy Europe is...well, this is what he looks like:

Looks at those pipes!!  Dude is the trainer for Slice Networks Last Ten Pounds Bootcamp and Bulging Brides and was voted the number one trainer in Vancouver.  He's an ex-football player turned personal trainer, and he isn't averse to kicking some major ass and using a bullhorn AND megaphone while doing it.  Aaaand...while he's kinda hot (OK, a LOT hot), he scares the pants off me and I don't scare that easily when it comes to exercise.  He's the only guy that Hubs says has any right to wear spandex tights...ain't no one gonna make fun of him!

Hubs better be gentle with me...there's always payback, right?  Happy wife, happy life...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Chilly Night Chicken

Yowza, Old Man Winter is definitely here to stay.  We had another snowstorm today and we're having crazy winds resulting in temps expected to hit -16 celsius with the windchill.  OK yes...that doesn't sound all that bad, but for us little old Victorians who aren't used to this kind of weather - that's c-c-cccold!  And it's a really, really damp cold so it just cuts right through to the bone.  Nasty stuff.

Fabulous Boss let us go home early today (hmmm, I think that's gonna stick - that's his name from now on) because of the snow situation.  Yesterday was my cooking day, and I'd prepped this dish but forgot to cook it - ahhh, I love happy accidents!  This smelled amazing while it was in the oven and was the perfect meal for a cold, snowy night - great flavour and the lemon zest made it taste really alive and fresh.  And it was soooo easy!   It's from the Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook - a seriously amazing looking cookbook...I've flagged all the recipes I want to make from it and there's about 20 that are going to be making the rotation soon...including this recipe.

Tuscan Lemon Chicken - from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics Cookbook

1 3 1/2 pound chicken, flattened
kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary leaves
freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, halved

Sprinkle the chicken with 1 tsp salt on each side.

Combine the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary and 1 tsp pepper in a ceramic or class dish just large enough to hold the flattened chicken.  Add the chicken, and turn to coat.  Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight, turning once or twice.

When ready to grill, prepare a hot charcoal fire on one side of grill (or turn a gas grill on low heat).  Spread 1/4 of the coals across the other side of the grille.  Place the chicken on the cooler side skin side up, and weight it down with the dish you used for marinating.  Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the underside is golden brown.  Turn the chicken skin side down, weight again with the dish, and cook for another 12 to 15 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and the chicken is cooked through.  Place the lemon halves on the cool side of the grille, cut side down, for the last 10 minutes of cooking.  Take chicken to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.  Cut chicken in quarters, sprinkle with salt and service with grilled lemon halves.

My adjustments:  I marinated this in a plastic bag - I find marinating chicken in a dish doesn't really get the marinade into the meat.  I also baked this, rather than grilling....I thought it'd be a wee bit cold to stand outside.  I baked this for 35 minutes at 450 degrees - fat was spitting everywhere but for any kind of bone in chicken in the oven, that temp for that length of time produces the juiciest and perfectly done meat. 

Deelish - I just ate and my mouth was watering as I typed up the recipe.  Huge thumbs up....Ina Garten is my new favourite cook!  Vij...don't be jealous...I still love you too.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Foodie Heaven

So I've mentioned my obsession with cookbooks.  I'm on a total bingefest of cookbooks right now - in the last two weeks I've bought ten new ones.  It's like crack!  Everywhere I turn, there's cookbooks on sale...and ones that I've totally been wanting.  I mentioned I bought the latest Barefoot Contessa cookbook...and liked it so much that I went online and noticed that they were on sale so I bought all the other cookbooks she has.  Then today I went to Winners (OMG, I love Winners) and found a Jamie Oliver and two Mario Batali's that I've been jonesing for, all at great prices.

Maybe it's because I can't eat all the delicious and decadent food I want, I'm filling the hole by reading about it?  Ha!  Anyways, I'm in foodie heaven right now - it's cold and snowy out, the fireplace is on and I'm about to break into my stack of cookbooks.  Life is good.

PS.  No...those aren't my cookbooks....I'm not quite at the calibre of being able to cook like Thomas Keller.  I hope one day though!

TPC Week 3 - Down to the Wire

Sooo...it's going to be tough to get the first five pounds I think. I can't believe it's been three weeks already!  Clothes are definitely feeling looser, but any movement on the scale is stalling.  Gah.  It didn't help that I had to go to Van on Thursday for a seminar...it's hard eating well when I'm away from home.  I didn't eat as well as I have been and definitely didn't drink enough water - I'm parched and I'm puffy around the waist and eyes again.  I headed to the big city Thursday afternoon...as soon as I got in I went to the gym and worked out, and then headed up to my room to order up some dinner.  Hmmm...not a whole lot of healthy choices.  Why is that?!  I don't expect hotels to be totally low fat or anything but why is everything dripping in cream or butter?!  I ended up ordering a salad with salmon and prawns ($30!!!!  highway robbery!!!) and a butternut squash soup - which was delicious, but packed with cream.  Sigh.  Waste not, want not, right?  I ate it but left half.  Double sigh.  I hate wasting food.

The next day was harder.  I had a healthy breakfast of oatmeal, fruit and hard boiled eggs and I squeezed in  a workout in the morning.  Lunch was a bit more difficult to work around - it was pasta, pasta, pasta...no protein.  I pretty much had to have the pasta otherwise I would have only had salad and that wasn't going to keep me full until I got home to Victoria at around 7:30.  So I gave in and ate the friggin' pasta.  But...I didn't have any dessert!  Go me.

Anyways, back on track again for next week - lots of water, balanced meals and gobs of exercise...first weigh in is Nov 27th, so look out for the results in a week!  Will she or won't she get her $50 back for 5 pounds?  Drumroll please....

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tis the Season...Almost

Where did the year go?  I can't believe that we're halfway through November and the holiday season is almost upon us - it feels like it was just yesterday that it was last Christmas!  It's going to be a really busy December for us this year - we've got dinner parties and other social stuff booked for every weekend already!  And lots of lunches, coffees and other dates so far.  As much as I love to stay home, I really enjoy the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.  I'm thankful that we have friends who actually want to hang with us, weirdos that we are.  Hee.

Hmmm.  Dinner parties...lunches.  Chocolates.  Appies.  Gah!  Must.Stay.Strong.  :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Foodie's Faves

Sigh.  My four day weekend is rapidly coming to a close, but it's been an awesome few days.  Basically its consisted of a lot of hanging out with Hubs, blogging, watching mucho television and reading - sooooo wonderful.  I've been really trying to make an effort to get back to reading...ever since I was a little kid, I've always loved to read.  Every weekend my dad would drop me off at the local library and I'd spend all day there, rummaging through all the books.  I actually taught myself how to crochet from books I borrowed from the library!  Not that I can remember how now, but that's OK - that was over 30 years ago so whatev.  Anyways, with all the busyness that comes with building a career and going through the CGA program, I stopped reading...I'd would mayyybe read one book a year if I was lucky, hence one of my goals for 2010 was to read a book a month.  So happy to report I've hit my dozen, and might even make 15 if I'm lucky.  Go me! 

Anyways, along with my love of "regular" books, I loooooovvvee cookbooks.  LOVE.THEM.  I actually read them like books, flipping through page by page poring over the recipes and imagining what the recipes taste like.  Through the years I've collected close to a hundred...and the collection is growing bigger and bigger each year.  Hee hee.  Some women collect shoes, I collect cookbooks!  I thought I'd share a few of my favourites that are my go-tos, where pretty much everything I've made from them has been a success:

Eat Shrink and Be Merry (Janet and Greta Podleski):
I'd read a lot about this cookbook through one of my favourite internet sites so decided to pick it up - and sooo glad I did....it's awesome.  The recipes are easy, use commonly found ingredients and focus on tasting good while being healthy.  I would say I've made about half the recipes out of this book and they've all been winners.  The second cookbook in the series called Crazyplates has the best manicotta recipe - whenever I've made it, people go crazy.

The Joy of Cooking:
If anyone were to ask the one cookbook that every person should own, this would be it.  Lots of how-tos, and the recipes are great.  I would imagine they've been tested over and over again to make sure they're good.  I made the pasta e fagioli and oxtail soup recently and they were both delish.

The Best of Bridge/The Rest of the Best of Bridge/basically any of the "Bridge" Series:
My go-tos for good, homey stuff that's really tasty...everthing I've made has turned out and the desserts and baked goods are to die for.  There is a killer carmelized onion dip that will make you pass out from happiness.  Fo' real.

Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Marcella Hazan):
Definitely a must have if you like Italian cooking - there's lots of instructions and valuable information - it's kind of like the Joy of Cooking for Italian food.

The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook:
I'm a HUGE fan of the America's Test Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated folks...they're all about things tasting good, but a lot of the recipes are kinda high in fat.  Liberal use of bacon fat used - and while I love bacon, I don't love the artery clogging effect!  I picked up this cookbook recently at Costco and the stuff I've made so far has been really good...without the bacon fat!

Joy of Wokking/Yan Can Cook (Martin Yan):
So who does a little Asian lady turn to when she wants to cook Chinese?  My man, Martin Yan.  I bought these two cookbooks at a used bookstore and they have pretty much every Cantonese dish known to man in them.  I love scouring used bookstores for cookbooks - I always look for really old, out of print cookbooks and have found a few real gems along the way.  Ssshhhh...it's our secret now...

Vij's at Home (Vikram Vij):
I've waxed poetic about this already, so I won't go on and on and on again.  Buy it.  Now.

UPDATE:  I just bought the Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?  cookbook tonight and I can't decide what to make first.  It may make my list of faves soon!  Costco always gets the new cookbook releases and the prices are fantastic.  Just sayin'. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

TPC Week 2 - Humming Along


I am definitely crave-y today....and for some reason, I keep watching cooking shows!  Gah!  I must be a glutton for punishment or something.  I was watching this show called Phantom Gourmet and they were talking about the best steakhouses in Boston.  Holy - I could feel myself salivating throughout the whole show.

So besides today's cravings - Hubs and I are still doing great on the challenge.  Woohoo!  It's so funny, Hubs is now all over this challenge like a dirty shirt - we ran into someone the other day and they asked if he'd lost weight. I've actually noticed that his clothes are looking looser too. Just like a man, eh? He scales back a bit and the pounds are dropping off him left, right and centre...I'm working out dutifully and eating really clean but my body is hanging on to every last ounce. So funny.  Anyways, no cheats at all, and for the most part I'm not feeling deprived.  I keep a food and exercise journal (recommended by my bootcamp for accountability) and noticed that I'm not watching my food breakdown as closely and am favouring carbs again so I've got to make sure I keep things better balanced between carbs, fats and protein.  I'm also using a lot of nut butter lately and snacking on nuts more so need to ease up on that too - nuts have lots of proteins, minerals and other good stuff, but also a ton of fat too. 

Results so far?  I'm noticing my clothes are fitting looser now too, especially across the chest - I'm definitely an apple shape and I gain weight all in my torso, especially the girls.  Now most people might think that's awesome, but being so short and small framed, it's really hard to find clothes that fit when the girls are...uh...well, when my cup runneth over.  If they fit the girls, the shirt is too baggy.  If the rest of the shirt fits, I get major gapping and pulling.  Blech.  Anyways, things are definitely loosening up so I'm happy.  Yay!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Marathon Quest 2011 - Step One

Ahhhhh.  What an awesome few days so far - my wonderful boss gave us today off so we ended up getting  a four day weekend.  Can I say how much I love him?  Hubs had to go to work today so I've just been chillin' at home and started thinking about Marathon Quest 2011.

I've been thinking about what I learned during MQ2010 and what I can do to make sure that MQ2011 is a success.  First step - a gait analysis.  As you guys know, I was having some issues with my right foot which my physiotherapist thought was due to muscle imbalances affecting my gait.  At the race expo for the Goodlife Victoria, there was a booth with a local physiotherapist who can do a gait analysis with a special new fangled machine - woohoo!  I'd read about gait analysis on the Running Injury Clinic site online and in Canadian Runner a few months ago but it hadn't come to Victoria yet - so was super excited to see it was finally here!

Hubs and I went to talk to the guys at the booth and Hubs was soooo excited - he called right away and made an appointment.  He's been having troubles with pain in his bum/glutes and the gait analysis he had done totally confirmed that it was the way he was running that was causing the issue - he actually has weak glutes and he would drop his right hip when he runs.  What they do is stick little sensors all over your legs and get you to run at your normal 10K pace, tell you what's going on and then give you a report afterwards that you can take to your regular physiotherapist for exercises or other treatment.  Sold!  I booked an appointment for the beginning of December and I'm excited to see what it tells me.

So gait analysis is my starting point -  I figure there's lots of time between now and May to work on whatever muscles or issues I need to work on to make sure MQ2011 is a success.  Once I start marathon training in May, I'm booking monthly physio and massage appointments to make sure I take care of things before any issues start up.  Goodlife Victoria 2011 - here I come!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lest We Forget

Hubs and I just got back from attending the local Remembrance Day ceremonies - we always try to make it because...well, it's the least we can do to pay our respects to those that fought for us so we have the freedom we have today.  I always get choked up when the veterans parade past us and people are all clapping for them.  And...sadly, I always notice that the number of veterans gets smaller and smaller every year.  The one good thing that I noticed though is the number of teens who were there...there was this group of five young guys, who took the time to come down and pay their respects and just didn't treat today as a day off school.  Cool.

Thanks to all those who fought for us.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Whaaaat?! Let Me At 'Em....

I think I can feel a vein in my temple throbbing.  I was catching up and seeing what was going on in bloggieland and happened across this post over at Shut Up and Run.  Of course, being the inquisitive little Asian lady that I am, I decided to go read the article "Are New York Marathoners Athletes?" to see what the fuss was all about. 

After I extracted myself from the ceiling and calmed myself down, I started to think about what these asshats are saying.  And alls I gots to say is that some people are so negative.  And jealous.  OK, I get that these two jackasses are trying to be controversial and get people to read their article - but to poo poo on the effort it takes to run a marathon?  That everyone who isn't an elite is ridiculous - and not an athlete?  That runners are all self involved?  I'd love to see either of these guys take the months required to train for the marathon, try to complete it and then see what they have to say.  Personally, I hate armchair critics.  It's pretty obvious to me that these two individuals have never set any kind of physical challenges for themselves but somehow feel justified in mocking those that do.  Sad.

The other part that really gets my goat is how they define an athlete.  No - marathoners are not twisting in the air or doing backflips.  But is running not a sport?  And is an athlete not someone who trains for a sport?  It takes hours and hours to train to build up the speed, endurance and stamina to run a marathon.  In a lot of ways, those who are running for hours and hours are the real athletes - mentally and physically the battle to just keep moving is a feat in itself.   But really, who cares about labels.  It's the overall negativity and derisiveness in this article that really makes my blood boil. A small minded article from smalled minded people.

Whew...OK, got that off my chest!  My blood pressure is back to normal now.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Goodbye Geb

I got a little (OK, a lot) verklempt after seeing this video - Haile Gebrselassie, (also affectionately known as Geb) one of the greatest runners of our time, had to announce his retirement after a DNF at 16 miles at the New York City Marathon.  This guy is the world record holder in the marathon at 2:03:59 - basically this man can run the marathon the same time it takes me to the half - this guy is crazy fast.  Amazing.

Enjoy your retirement, Geb.  We'll miss ya.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Black Bean Brownies - Who Woulda Thunk

So I was thinking the other day - just because I'm on this 8 week craziness, doesn't mean I can't have a healthy treat once in awhile, right?  I've been hearing a lot about black bean brownies lately so decided to give 'em a whirl after I saw them on my bootcamp's blog

Pretty darn tasty!  I can't really taste the beans and they have a rich, chocolate-y flavour to them - almost slightly bitter like dark chocolate.  Don't get me wrong...they're not quite an nice ooey gooey fudge-y brownie...but as a close substitute, they're awesome!  I like that they're relatively low in fat (you could make them even lower by using applesauce) and you get a fibre/protein punch from the bean.  The texture is different so be warned...slightly grainy but I'm used to that kind of texture as it's similar to Chinese red bean buns (which I adore).  I left out the chocolate chips, but if you put those on top, I think you might be able to fool even the most avid chocoholic!

Black Bean Brownies - from BDHQ blog

1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup agave syrup
1 teaspoon instant coffee (optional)
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease an 8x8 square baking dish.

Combine the black beans, eggs, oil, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla extract, agave, and instant coffee in a blender; blend until smooth; pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top of the mixture.

Bake in the preheated oven until the top is dry and the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes.
My changes:  I cut back on the oil to 2 tbsp and left out the chips - and they still turned out great.  Next time I might add some nuts or something to oomph up the texture. Two thumbs up on this!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

TPC Week 1 - What a Difference

Can't believe what a difference between this Saturday and last Saturday - last week we were total gourmands, eating everything in sight...today we had the option of having a free meal, and we chose not to.  Can you believe that?  This is coming from the person who ate nachos, pizza and instant noodles for dinner last Saturday.

Overall, the challenge is going really well.  It's still hard but now that we're on a roll, it's becoming a lot easier to not cheat, or even want to cheat.  Besides my whisky indiscretion from a few nights ago, my food has been super clean.  I feel totally different too...not bloated and already my clothes are starting to fit better.  Hubs is doing fabulous - he got on the scale this morning and he lost 5 pounds!!  He's been eating the same stuff I have and cutting back his portion sizes as well.  Nary a chip has passed our lips and we've even got a bowl of Halloween candy left over from last week that neither of us has touched.  Losing weight is 80% what you put in your mouth so I'll have to remember that when I get tempted. 

We're still keeping up on our workouts as well....we headed out for a 10K run this morning which was fabulous.  It was a grey and drizzly day, but it was so nice to run on the trails with all the leaves everywhere...and the air smelled so fresh and clean.  So far, so good for Week 1!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1.  Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge

Alrighty - if it has the word "challenge" in it, I'm all over it.  I heard about this last year as a lot of peeps in the bloggieland were doing it but I didn't get on the wagon fast enough.  I'm all over some bootie bustin' action this winter though!  Check out the deets on the challenge here which is being set up by Amanda at RuntoTheFinish - there's some good swag to be given away and it'll hopefully stop us from gaining weight during the holiday season - a win-win all around! C'mon...you know you want to...

2.  Test No. 1

So far I've been a good girl and stuck on my diet - but tonight will be the first major test of my willpower.  I belong to a scotch club (loooove the stuff) and I registered for a scotch tasting well before I knew I was going to do the 10 Pound Challenge.  So what happens at one of these gigs is that you sample a small selection of scotches from a featured distiller and once you're substantially liquored up, you go stuff your face at a curry buffet (which is fitting for this tasting, as the distiller is from India).  Now the scotch...I'll drink some of it but can abstain from pounding it down as it's potent stuff.  The curry buffet however...pappadums, naan...butter chicken and deep fried samosas or pakoras...gaaah!   Did I say I LOVE Indian food?   And we all know what happens when you drink a little...inhibitions fly out the window and next thing you know I'm loading up my plate with roti after roti and shovelling butter chicken in my face as fast as I can.  I'll stay strong tonight though and steer away from the breads and stick with chicken (I'll try to get as much sauce off as I can) and veggies...God I pray there are veggies.

UPDATE:  well, I drank all the whisky but I resisted all the naan and samosas and bad stuff and stuck with chickpeas and a tiny bit of butter chicken and curried lamb.  Like a smidgen.  So not bad.  I'm not sure if I'll be makin' bootcamp tomorrow morning.  Just sayin'.

 3.  Cracked

I went to the chiro last night and got cracked again - little by little the back is feeling better but there are still some errant aches and pains that are happening.  I'll be all good and then feel a twinge in my back and then my hip and front thigh start to get this twanging nerve pain...gah.  I'm sure the vertabrae being out probably irritated some nerves and it might take a bit for things to settle down.  Just glad it's starting to feel better though!  Bring on the running.  Hee.

UPDATE:  after the whisky, my back feels much better.  Great in fact!  :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Gettin' Better

Whew...today was a good day and I wasn't gnawing my arm off because I was hungry all day long...yay!  Three days in and so far so good...I haven't cheated and I'm feeling less loafy and puffy...must be all the water I'm drinking.  I'm supposed to try and get 3L of water in a day - needless to say, I'm probably driving all the girls at work crazy because I'm always marching up and down the hall to go to the washroom!  Sorry gals.  Heh.

The other thing that is gettin' better is my back...I went to my chiro last week and got cracked - one of my lower vertebrae was out of place and it's feeling better than it was last week - I was sooo sore and achy.  I still get sore sitting in the car (must be the position?) but sitting at work is gettin' better.  Just really hope this gets better as it's affecting my running...and that ain't good.  Darn rear-ending!  Anyways, I'm going to take 'er easy this week to let it mend before I get back into anything too vigorous.  In the meantime though, I've been doing a lot more upper body weight work and lovin' it...gotta get rid of the chicken arms - Linda Hamilton's gonna have nothin' on me. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Product Review - Vege Greens Vegan Protein

Day two of the Challenge is definitely proving to be a little bit harder...I'm trying to eat smaller, more frequent meals but nothing is keeping me full for more than a few hours.  Hungry.All.The.Time.  I'm so used to eating way more especially when I was training for the marathon so I've got to learn to scale back - I can't eat the same way as I did when I was running for hours.  I'll definitely need to pack more substantial snacks so I don't get too hungry.  I made a big batch of hummus this weekend so must remember to pack some with me to work tomorrow...mmmm, hummus.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I generally don't have a problem getting enough protein for lunch and dinner, but have a really difficult time with breakfast since I shouldn't have dairy or eggs (food sensitivities).  Protein definitely keeps me fuller longer so I really want to make sure I get enough at breakfast.   I take Greens+ Extra Energy by Genuine Health every day which I really like - but unfortunately it doesn't have any protein in it.  Last week I was out shopping and noticed this product:

I'd heard of VegeGreens before as my bootcamp trainers are huge on it - apparently one serving of the regular VegeGreens provides the antioxidant value of 6 - 8 servings of veggies.  I haven't compared it directly to Greens+ but thought I'd give this stuff a try - it provides a great protein wallop at 26 grams for one scoop and the protein comes from all vegan sources.  Woot!  Now the big test...what does this stuff taste like?!  The only flavour this stuff comes in is "natural vanilla"...now I don't know about you, but almost all vanilla flavoured protein powders I've tried have not been great.  Putrid, actually.

I gotta say - not bad!  I made myself a shake yesterday for breakfast with some soy milk, banana and strawberries and it was pretty good...so I tried it this morning as is and it was definitely doable!  A tiny bit gritty but not bad compared to some rice protein powders I've tried. For those of you who are interested, here is the link to the product's website, where they list the full ingredients:

VegeGreens Vegan Protein
So two thumbs up on this product...vegan, not bad tasting, packed full of antioxidants/minerals and apparently a portion of sales goes towards the David Suzuki Foundation - can it get any better than that?