POUNDING PAVEMENT

Three and a half weeks ago, I laced up my sneakers and began my annual 3 season sport of pounding pavement and I struggled. I truly struggled to get through the 3 mile route I had mapped out. After a winter solely focused on weight training and minimal cardio my body was no longer the long and lean machine it had been last summer. However, one of the biggest lessons running has taught me is one of perseverance. My mind always tries to chicken out before my body does and it’s pushing through these moments where the magic happens. This is where I grow.

Once again, I am reminded how quickly the body adapts. We evolved from athletes. While some of us are more athletically blessed than others, we are all programmed to physically adapt to our climates. Three and a half weeks ago, I finished my 3 miler with every muscle in my lower body aching, my heart pounding, and my lungs starving for oxygen. I had pushed myself to the point of nausea and I felt like a failure. Fast forward to week four (this week) and I am pushing through 7 milers with strong stems, a steady heartbeat, and abundant air in my lungs. This is a big win for me because I tore both of my iliotibial bands in high school and long distance running has always been out of the question.

Last night I finished my run with a .25 mile sprint and literally had to force myself not to keep going. The truth is though that while runners look forward to the runs where they feel literally feel invincible, we immediately start formulating a way to create complete exhaustion again. We have learned that pain equals reward. Running is a hard sport. It requires self discipline in the purest form, a lot of heart, commitment, and a tad bit of crazy.

This year I have decided that I wanted to run for more than just exercise and endorphins. I want to run for self-awareness. I want to learn my physical and mental “limitations” and then surpass them.

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ALTERED PERCEPTION: Primary foods and Flexible Dieting

Over the last two months, my perception of nutrition has altered in two ways.  The first being that while food certainly is necessary to thrive, it is not the only thing that nourishes us. In fact, through the foundations of the Institute for Integrated Nutrition I have disocvered the term primary food, coined by Joshua Rosenthal. Primary food is composed of four things: Relationships, Career, Physical Activity, and Spirituality. The example Rosenthal gives is that as a child, we are constantly reminded that it is time to eat. We find ourselves so engaged in play, that we forget to eat. At 24, this seems quite foreign to me as I pretty much plan my entire day around the foods I am eating. Partly because I am health foodie, but also because society encourages us to “live to eat.” However, it is significant to understand that when we are engaged and fulfilled in these 4 areas, we eat to live. We eat because we know that if we don’t we cannot fully participate in our primary food. Thus, the actual act of consuming energy (calories) is considered secondary food.

The second alternation comes from a nutritional concept called Flexible Dieting. I became intrigued by FD in January, however I remained skeptical. I spent about a month reading articles that both supported and opposed FD and looking at FD athletes and their stories. While the concepts has a bad rep, I have found it to be extremely beneficial for me both physically and mentally. The assumption is that Flexible Dieters eat whatever they want as long as it fits within their macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fats). However, athletes know that when they consume a diet rich in whole foods they feel better and they perform better. The exception is that Flexible Dieters are given the freedom to incorporate foods that a “clean eater” has deemed off-limits. I consumed a clean diet for the last two years. However, I definitely developed binging habits. I would eat perfectly all week and then would consume an entire small pizza, a row of Oreos, and a plate of nachos on my “cheat day.” My body would be so caught off guard that I would not only be depressed the next day, but physically ill…and the cycle continued. This is something that is very common for our extremist society. We do not know how to do things in moderation. Over the last month, I have lost 7 pounds while consuming 200-300 more calories a day, doing less cardio, and incorporating foods like poptarts and Oreos along with whole foods. I know that immediately before and after my workout, my body benefits from consuming simple carbohydrates like a Poptart. However, I also know that I feel fuller and have more prolonged energy after consuming a meal that consists of sweet potato, chicken, and asparagus.

The human body is an amazing organism. When we are sick, our bodies purge the toxins and create antibodies to defend against the illnesses’ return. When we lift weights and tear apart our muscles, our bodies repair them and adapt them so that they are stronger for the next workout. On a daily basis our bodies heal themselve. 

Until we learn to nourish them physically, emotionally, and mentally instead of punish them, we will never  discover our full potential. Eat to live. Do not live to eat. 

BUNLESS BEEF SLIDERS

Ingredients:
• 1lb 92% Lean Organic Beef
• 1/2 Bell Pepper
• 1/2 Zucchini
• 1/2 cup Cherry Tomato
• EVOO
• Pampered Chef Crushed Peppercorn and Garlic Rub
• Low Sodium Cheese (I did American because well, it fit my macros!)

Directions:
1. Finely chop veggies and sauté with 1 tsp EVOO until brown.
2. In a bowl, combine beef and seasoning.
3. Fold cooked veggies into meat and form in to mini paddies.
4. Sauté, grill, or bake burgers.
5. Once almost cooked add your chose of low sodium cheese.

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ZUCCHINI CHIP NACHOS

Ingredients:

  • 3 Zucchinis
  • Reduced Fat Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 8 ounces Ground Chicken or Turkey Breast
  • Light Sour Cream
  • Hot Sauce
  • Shredded Lettuce
  • Fresh Salsa/Guacamole (optional additions)
  • Baking Sheet(s)
  • Olive Oil Cooking Spray
  • Frying Pan

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Slice zucchini into thin chips.
  3. Line baking sheets with aluminum foil and spray with Olive Oil.
  4. Cover trays with zucchini chips. Do not overlap zucchini.
  5. Bake until fully cooked, then flip and broil until crispy!!!* Cooking times vary depending on chip slice width and ovens. Unfortunately you will have to watch them ;).
  6. Spray frying pan with olive oil and brown meat on medium high. Finely chop and add hot sauce (optional).
  7. Combine chips on one baking and sheet layer with cheese and meat.
  8. Turn off oven and let sit until cheese melted. Oven will already be hot!
  9. Top with lettuce, salsa, guacamole, and sour cream.

Serving 2-3

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PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Organic Pumpkin Pure
  • ½ cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ½ tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 cups Almond Butter
  • 1 cup Organic Dark Chocolate Chips
  • Baking Sheet
  • Olive Oil Spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Spray baking sheet with olive oil spray.
  3. In a large bowl combine pumpkin puree and almond butter. Mix well.
  4. Add pumpkin pie spice, sea salt, pure maple syrup, vanilla, and chocolate chips (if desired). Mix until batter is a consistent paste.
  5. Place teaspoons of batter onto baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes.

Servings vary

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MAPLE SUGAR ACORN SQUASH

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups of Water
  • 2 tsp Butter
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Ginger
  • 1/3 cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1 Acorn Squash
  • Glass Baking Dish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Rinse squash, cut in half, and scoop seeds.
  3. Place face down in 1½ cups of water
  4. Bake for 40 minutes.
  5. Combine butter, cinnamon, ginger, and pure maple syrup in a small bowl.
  6. Remove from oven, drain water, and flip squash.
  7. Pour combined ingredients into the center of each half, dividing them evenly.
  8. Bake 10 minutes.

2 Servings

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CHICKEN SAUSAGE VEGGIE “SPAGHETTI”

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large Spaghetti Squash
  • EVOO
  • 1 medium Zucchini
  • 1-2 cups Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1/4 Red Onion
  • Sea Salt and Pepper
  • 3 Applegate Organic Chicken Sausage Links
  • Organic Garlic cloves
  • Olive Oil Spray
  • Baking Dish
  • Frying Pan
  • Large Bowl

Directions:

  1. Rinse spaghetti squash and carefully stab with a knife to allow heat to escape.
  2. Cook spaghetti squash in the microwave (cuts cooking time in 1/2). Approximately 6 minutes on each side. The squash will be soft when cooked.
  3. Once squash is done, carefully remove from microwave, cut in half, and let cool (15-20minutes). Squash will be extremely hot. I would recommend using oven mitts.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  5. Heat a teaspoon of EVOO and garlic, add chicken sausage, and cook until brown.
  6. Rinse zucchini and tomatoes. Slice Zucchini (1/2 inch thick) and cut tomatoes into halves. Finely slice onion. Roast in baking dish with 1 tbs of EVOO for 20 minutes.
  7. Scoop seeds from spaghetti squash and fork into large bowl.
  8. Once veggies are done add to spaghetti squash with 1tbs of EVOO and sea salt & pepper to taste. Toss dish.
  9. Slice chicken sausage and add to dish.
  10. Enjoy!

2-3 servings