WHW: Mixing It Up.

You know those people who decide to try something new/visit a new place/take up a new hobby and literally spend hours reading about it, researching it and planning it out before they start? Yeah…that’s me. When I first started running, I spent hours reading articles on RunnersWorld.com, stalking running blogs and printing out beginner’s training plans. That’s just how I am. When I say I’m gonna do something, I’m gonna do it well.

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During that early “research” period, I read articles/blog posts about the difficulty runners have with cross-training. They know they should do it, but can’t find the time because all they do is run. I just knew that would never be me. I wanted to become a runner, but I just couldn’t see myself running 6 days a week and doing nothing else. Here I am, 13 months later and I run 5 days a week and squeeze in a yoga or Pilates class maybe twice. All I ever want to do is run. I love yoga, Pilates and Zumba, but somehow running always wins out.

But after two weeks of no weight loss (no weight gain either!) and two runs during which random pains started up in my legs, I know it’s time to get serious about cross-training. Running has done amazing things for my cardiovascular fitness and my body has definitely gotten smaller, but I don’t really see any definition besides my calves. I’ve also noticed that my core is still extremely weak and let’s not even talk about my upper body. Nothing has changed since Middle School when I could only do 1 pull-up. Except now I probably couldn’t even do one. If I want to become a well-rounded runner, and athlete, I have to start building strength.

 

I really don’t want to overdo it and run the risk of an injury or tiring my legs out too much during training for RnR USA, but I do want to make sure that I’m working my entire body and not just my legs. So the plan is to do at least 3 strength sessions each week (Pilates or a Tone It Up! workout). I’d like to do some other form of cardio as well, so I’m going to attend a Zumba class twice a week. (I know the elliptical would be good for me, but if I’m going to spend an hour on a machine, it’s gonna be a treadmill.) I’ve decided to save yoga for my rest days since it gives me a really great stretch but not enough strength work.

I’m hoping this plan will give my body the push it needs to get through this plateau and will enhance my half-marathon training. I’m going to start scheduling my cross-training the way I schedule my runs so I won’t be tempted to skip them. I know that once I get into the habit of going, I’ll love it and won’t want to stop. I’m breaking the curse of the running-only runner one Zumba class at a time!

How do you work cross-training into your schedule and how has it improved your running?

Thirsty Thursday: “My” Famous Shrimp Tacos

I’ve shared this recipe on Posh’s Black Book before, but I’d be a horrible blogger if I didn’t share it with my readers. I first found it last year when I was getting familiar in the kitchen and since then I’ve made it my own. I call them “my” famous shrimp tacos because my family has started requesting that I make it, especially the guacamole, and most of them thought I came up with it on my own. It is THE best. I love Mexican food, but it’s normally loaded with unhealthy ingredients and served in huge portions. This recipe allows me to eat my favorite food without feeling guilty. You can find the full recipe on Gwyneth Paltrow’s website here or by watching the video. See my personal adaptations below.

* “my” way:

– I use a red onion instead of white in the salsa and guacamole. I think it gives it a little more flavor and I like the color it adds.

– I also use Cholula hot sauce in the pico de gallo to give it an extra kick. I use Cholula Lime sometimes (in the salsa and as a topping in the tacos) since I use fresh lime juice in pretty much every other part of the recipe.

– I season the shrimp with Adobo seasoning and lime juice. It’s spicy and amazing. Also, if you live near a Wegmans, try buying their fully cooked, frozen, peeled and deveined shrimp. They’re a little expensive, but they make the process a lot faster and they’re really great.

– If I’m making the tacos for a large group of people, I cook the shrimp in a skillet instead of on the grill for time-saving purposes. It’s also a good idea if you tend to overcook the shrimp on the grill.

– I make rice (sometimes white, sometimes brown) with it as well. We use a rice cooker and before I turn it on I add a little salt, lime juice and cilantro. Just like Chipotle!

Let me know how you like it and if you make any of your own changes!

Roll It Out.

I got a question via twitter over the weekend about foam rolling and I wanted to elaborate on it today. I talk about it constantly, but I think it would be better to show you how it works.

I’ve been following the Tone it Up! girls, Karena and Katrina, for a while now and have found their videos to be so helpful and easy to follow. They posted a foam roller demo a few weeks ago that helped me so much.

In the video they’re using a regular foam roller, but I prefer the Grid because I feel like it works out the kinks in my muscles better. I use both types plus the Stick to make sure I hit every tight spot. Try this video today! It will hurt a little at first, but you’ll feel SO much better after!

For another stretching routine from K&K check out my Law of Health blog post at Posh’s Black Book today or visit Tone it Up!

Thirsty Thursday: Hungry Tweet.

Last week, 2 crazy things happened. First, I realized that I’ve lost 10 pounds since I made a serious commitment to get healthy (7 weeks ago). Second, I realized that my metabolism has gone from slower than beltway traffic to faster than I can handle. I am hungry all. day. long. And you don’t even know hungry until you start doing long runs. I could eat the entire inventory of a bakery after my long runs. This second realization led me to tweet this:

Two of my guy friends assured me that it’s normal and a good thing. My metabolism is finally speeding up. I’ve read more diet/weight-loss books than I would care to admit, yet I still struggle with this simple phenomenon: eat more, weigh less. As a runner who burns no less than 300 calories every time I run, it’s not possible for me to make it through my runs without feeding my body enough. It’s also not possible for me to run well if I feed my body junk. I’ve learned both of these things the hard way, and I’m still learning.

After I posted my hungry tweet, I got a question from a friend who is toying with the idea of becoming a runner (yayy!) asking whether she has to do a complete overhaul of her diet in order to be a successful runner. And in short, my answer is no. Unless you’re looking to be the next Paula Radcliffe, or you survive off of a diet of Big Macs, I don’t believe you have to change everything. I do, however, believe that there are a few key diet rules every runner should follow.

*disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. I’m a law student. These are just my opinions and recommendations based on my own experiences. I’m a beginner so a year from now, these might change. But this is where I’m at today, and so far, it’s working.

1. Feed your body constantly.

The thing I struggle with the most is that I don’t eat often enough. I’ve been working on never letting my blood sugar get too low, but with my school schedule it can be difficult. Sometimes I feel like a baby because I have a distinct schedule. Every 3 hours, like clockwork, my stomach is growling. I notice a huge difference in my energy levels when I follow the schedule perfectly. Next semester I’m going to have to bite the bullet and start carrying a lunchbox with me. Oh well, being healthy and looking good > being the cool kid.

2. Complex carbohydrates are your friends.

New runners get really excited about carbo-loading, but it’s important to remember that all carbs are not created equal. While I’ve been known to use the “I’m a runner now so I can eat this” excuse more than once, I stick pretty closely to the list of good carbs: whole grains (whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal, cream of wheat, etc.), fruits, vegetables (especially green leafy veggies) and beans (I prefer black or kidney beans). I still eat all of the things I love, I just substitute the good stuff in when I can. For example, when I go to Chipotle I get brown rice, black beans, chicken, pico de gallo, medium salsa and lettuce. No avocado (which is good for you in moderation but not in the heaping amounts Chipotle gives), no sour cream and no cheese.

3. Eliminate junk, excess sugar and grease.

This is the most difficult aspect of my diet because I have a serious sweet tooth. I love candy and bubble gum more than anyone you know. One time, my best friend sent me a huge box of bubble gum (and cute socks) for my birthday. She mailed me 5 pounds of bubble gum. I screamed with glee when I opened it. But I digress…for the past 7 weeks, I have tried extremely hard to cut junk food out of my diet. Fast food was easy. Sometimes I miss french fries, but I’ve noticed that the more healthy food I eat, the less my body can handle greasy/fatty foods. For example, I had chinese food with my family for my cousin’s birthday a few weeks ago and got sick within 15 minutes of finishing it. I still get cravings and I give in sometimes, but each time my body only allows me to eat so much before it reminds me that things have changed. I eat candy after every long run during my ice baths though. It’s my thing. I’m human.

4. HYDRATE!

I’m always great about water. I carry it with me at all times and I drink at least 2 cups of tea daily. Water is imperative to weight loss and health. There is simply no way to be healthy without it. (If you don’t like the taste of water, try adding fruit or mint leaves to it. I love water with lemon.) I’ve cut out all soda and juice except for Naked Juice (the Green Machine is the BEST!) and replaced them with coconut water or revive vitamin water (I try to limit revive to after workouts though since it has a lot of sugar in it). I’ve also mostly cut out wine. When I do indulge, I force myself to have a Pinot Noir instead of the sweet white wine I really want. It’s all about substitutions people!

5. Don’t let one bad decision ruin your progress.

I used to throw in the towel completely every time I messed up on my diet. I think the first problem was that I was classifying it as a diet. It’s not. It’s a new way of eating and taking care of my body. Of course I’ll have days where I’m PMSing and all I can think about doing is laying in bed and eating an entire box of Le Petit Écolier cookies. What’s important is that I eat a healthy dinner that night. Or wake up the next morning and have a bowl of oatmeal before I go for a run. A bad day is a bad day. Don’t let it turn into a bad week. Don’t tell yourself you’ll start again on Monday. This isn’t a diet. It’s your life. Throw away that empty cookie box and keep it moving.

What do YOU eat to keep your body in top running shape?

awareness + change.

If you’re a runner and you don’t read Runner’s World, you should definitely start. It’s my main source of running news and advice. Black Girls Run! was featured in the December 2011 issue of RW in an article titled “Why is Running So White?” and I encourage everyone to pick up a copy and check it out.

The BGR! girls wrote a great response to the article on their blog last weekend and I wanted to post my own thoughts. I’ve joked before about how I, along with most black women, sometimes use my hair as an excuse not to work out. Anyone who argues with that is either delusional, has a never-ending bank account and an on-call stylist or doesn’t care about how they look. But obviously there are a lot of other reasons why I rarely see other black men and women running.

Last summer, when I trained for my first half marathon with Team in Training, I was the only person of color on our team. How is it possible that I was the only black person on a New Orleans-based team? I’m from the suburbs so it was nothing new for me, but looking back, I wish I had tried to bring more diversity into the group.

I thought about sharing my theories about the lack of diversity in the sport, but there doesn’t seem to be a point. The article was well written and eye-opening, but is that enough? Awareness is imperative, but change is the ultimate goal.

I started this blog as a way to document my training and to give myself a creative outlet to balance the stress and monotony of law school. The reason I continue to blog, besides loving it, is that so many people have told me how inspiring it is and how I’ve motivated them to start running too. Most of those people happen to be black. If my running, and writing about it, inspires other black/hispanic/asian people to join me, then I’m contributing to the change.

It has become a goal of mine to convert as many people as I can to running and fitness. Every sport and fitness activity in our country should be diverse and the only way that can happen is if we encourage each other to try new things and break free from stereotypes. If you’re going to the gym tonight, bring a girlfriend. If you miss your high school sports days, form an intramural basketball team with your co-workers or friends. If you want to encourage a family member to start running, convince them to run a half-marathon relay with you. Just find a group of people, filled with those who look like you and those who don’t, and start moving. Neither obesity nor disease discriminate and neither should we.

We’ve identified the problem, now let’s be the change. 

Monday Motivation

Celebrities have to work for it too. 

Heidi Klum and Brooklyn Decker running in my favorite city!

Isn’t this picture of Vanessa Minnillo adorable? Newlywed Glow x1000.

Dancing is most definitely exercise. Beyoncé gets extra points for doing it heels.

Fergie and Josh Duhamel on a run date.

Obvi Pippa Middleton got that famous booty from running.

One day, I’ll be using my Hermès Birkin as a gym bag too. One day. (p.s. I don’t care what anyone says, I still love Kimmie K.)

Jessica Biel always looks perfectly put together when she runs. Take note people: running/working out in your ill-fitting, stained, “I painted my living room in these” clothes is NOT cute. Don’t do it.

“I dated Alex Rodriguez and all I got was the most amazing arms you’ve ever seen.” – Cameron Diaz

What are your workout plans for today?!

*all photos via people.com

Thirsty Thursday: Delicious and Nutritious.

I’m counting down the days until this semester is over for many reasons including having time to cook again. When I moved to New Orleans for my first year of law school in August 2010, I couldn’t cook at all. Nothing I made ever tasted good and I only did it if I absolutely had to. After a couple of months of complete isolation (from a combination of nonstop reading and being 17 hours away from everyone I loved), I started to focus my attention on running and cooking. I needed something to distract me from my misery and it worked like a charm. I’ve been creating (or adapting) my own recipes and look forward to posting them here, but for now I want to introduce you to a few of my favorite recipes by others.

I learned very quickly that watching cooking shows like Giada at Home and The Barefoot Contessa made cooking seem more accessible. There is a world of difference between reading the words “carefully fold egg whites into the mixture” and watching it happen. That’s when I discovered Jessica Seinfeld. If you read my weekly blog on Posh’s Black Book, you already know that she’s my kitchen hero. Between her two cookbooks and her website, doitdelicious.com, she singlehandedly taught me how to cook.

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I’ve made almost every recipe on her website and have only had one unfortunate outcome involving Stewy Shrimp. (I got a little heavy-handed with the wine on that one. Sorry Dad!) I chose to post her Succulent Lemon-Thyme Salmon recipe today because it’s super easy and looks great on a plate. It’s guaranteed to make you feel like a chef. Make it for a date this weekend or do what I did and challenge your date to a cook-off with it. I won by a unanimous vote of 3 very tough judges. (He’s still mad about it.) Pair your salmon with a green veggie (I prefer sauteed spinach or asparagus) and brown rice for a delicious and nutritious meal!

imagine a world without cancer.

Out of the 130 people who read my blog yesterday, I’m sure that at least half of them have been affected by cancer in some way. In my family alone, 2 out of my 4 grandparents were diagnosed with cancer. One survived. Cancer scares me more than anything else in this world and I will do anything I can to keep others from feeling the pain that cancer caused my family.

Last year, when I decided to become a runner, I signed up for my first half marathon with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training (TNT). Five months later, I finished the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego half marathon with 3,100 other TNT participants and together we raised $9,000,000 for blood cancer treatment and research. Crossing that finish line was one of the greatest (and most painful) moments of my life.

Ever since that day, I’ve been trying to find a way to raise money for lung cancer treatment and research through a race. The thought of crossing a finish line in honor of my grandfather and possibly saving someone else’s is overwhelming. So overwhelming that since the day it became a possibility, I haven’t been able to get it off of my mind. It’s a bit early to announce it here, but I literally can’t hold it in.

God-willing, on November 4, 2012, I will run the ING New York City Marathon as a member of Fred’s Team, a fundraising program that raises money for the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) through various endurance events. (Read about Fred Lebow, the team’s inspiring namesake and co-founder of the New York City Marathon, here) My goal is to raise at least $5,000. I chose Fred’s Team for many reasons, but the main reason is that I can request that the money I raise be directed specifically to lung cancer research at MSKCC.

It may seem weird that I’m planning this a year in advance, but the NYC Marathon is one of the hardest races to get into and I want to be one of the first people on the list when the registration for Fred’s Team opens. (I’ve already pre-registered and will be notified as soon as the official registration opens in the Spring.) I’ll also need an entire year to prepare my body to run 26.2 miles. I’m extremely nervous, but I am beyond excited to run my first marathon in my favorite city. I’ll probably cry tears of sheer joy the entire way. It’s going to be amazing and I already can’t wait. I may have even booked my hotel room a year in advance. Don’t judge me.

Throughout the next year, I’ll be documenting the entire process: registration, fundraising, and training. I promise not to spare any details. I sincerely hope that by doing this I will not only make a difference in the lives of those treated at MSKCC, but that I would encourage my readers to do the same. Whether you’re a beginning runner and you’re looking for a race to get you started, or a seasoned runner looking for a new challenge, running a race for a charity is one of the best decisions you could make for your running, for your life and for your soul. I promise you that.

 

ice baths are from heaven.

I might be crazy, but I love ice baths. Don’t get me wrong…they don’t feel good during. Last week, I sat on a piece of ice but I was so cold that I couldn’t move it. A big ice cube stuck under your butt for 20 minutes is not cool. But I have a great routine that makes them bearable and they really pay off. Here we go…Ice Baths 101.

If you’re a runner (new or old) training for a race or building mileage, you should be taking an ice bath at least once a week for 15-20 minutes. After every long run, I drive to 7-Eleven and purchase a vitaminwater revive and 2 16lb bags of ice. I fill the bathtub halfway up with cold water making sure that the water is high enough that it will cover everything from the hips down.

While the tub is filling up, I get my iPad out and turn on old episodes of The Biggest Loser. I also grab my phone (for a timer), a post-run snack and a cup of green tea (I drink Yogi Green Tea Muscle Recovery after long runs). Once it’s done, I throw the ice in and jump in as fast as I can. Fully clothed because I’m scared of freezing to death.

Once I’m all the way in the water, I set the timer on my phone to 20 minutes and hit play. Watching The Biggest Loser distracts me from the fact that my back is cramping from the cold and makes the time fly by. Today, my 7 year old cousin Malani joined me and took this amazingly awful picture of me. She’s such a gem.

Bad post-run hair is necessary if you want to look like a real runner. I’m not really sure what that face is I’m making or why I look like I’m 13 years old, but just try to focus on the complete Lululemon outfit: Run: Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve, Cool Racerback and Wunder Under Crop. You need every one of those items.

After 20 minutes, I ring out my clothes, wrap myself in a warm and fuzzy robe and sit with my legs propped up for another 15-20 minutes. I think it’s important to continue to rest my legs and let the healing magic of the ice settle before jumping into a hot shower. After my shower, if I’m not in a rush to get somewhere, I use the Grid and the Stick to roll out each muscle.

It’s a pretty long routine from start to finish and I’m not a doctor or trainer so I have no science to back myself up. All I know is that I ran 7 miles today and my legs don’t feel sore at all right now. A little tired, but definitely not sore. That is worth the shock of the ice and the pain of the foam roller. I’m sticking to my routine. If for nothing else than to produce hilarious pictures like this. Seriously, what is up with my face?

good feeling.

Yesterday, when I was supposed to be out running an amazing 7-miler, I was in bed sick. My entire day was completely unproductive. Thankfully, I’m feeling a little better today and I will not let this weekend pass without a long run. So this morning I’m getting ready for church, thinking about all the football games I want to watch today, (Skins/Dolphins (HAIL) and Cards/Eagles (BIG crush on Larry Fitzgerald!)) and watching this video. Because today’s run is gonna be hotter than those neon green shoes Flo Rida is running in.

Back later w/ a recap!