Friday, June 5, 2015

What's your recipe?

I love to cook. (As is evidenced by the fact that I had to pause Chef to write this blog post.) In my past life I have worked in two bakeries and a deli. Days of cleaning up and prepping food gave me an insatiable love of both cooking and baking. I often get asked which one I love more, and I don't have a good answer. Both present unique and different opportunities. To me, the love of standing at the farmer's market picking out fresh veggies is just as wonderful as pulling my latest creation out of a hot stove.

My most recent cookbook purchase was Racing Weight Cookbook. (The picture to the left is the Nectarine Stuffed French Toast from the cookbook. It was AMAZING.) As I prepare for my upcoming marathon, and to just improve my health overall, I've taken an extra interest in the type of food I'm putting into my body. I'll admit it, a few sour gummy worms somehow manage to make their way past my lips from time to time. But I like to think that the majority of food passing through the gums are good food choices to fuel me in my workouts.

Cookbooks aren't the only type of books that I manage to collect. One of my dreams is to live in a large enough space where one room can be simply lined with bookshelves and books. When I moved to Arizona, the guys who were kind enough to come help me unload the moving truck jokingly asked if I brought anything besides my bed, papasan chair, and my books. (I don't think they were really joking though. The amount of boxes that had "books" as their label was a bit ridiculous...or awesome depending on how you look at it.) There are three bookshelves devoted to books in my small one-bedroom apartment right now, and I'm rapidly running out of space.

If you're a regular reader of my blog, or were at least paying attention in the first couple paragraphs of this post, you might have already caught that I'm planning on running a marathon. (If you haven't caught that by now, well then you might have the same attention span as some of my high schoolers.) Most of the time when I mention my marathon training to a fellow runner, they offer their favorite book of choice that has helped them reach their goal. Currently on the shelf sit:

Shout out to all my fellow runner friends for their recommendations. Daniels' Running Formula is the latest and greatest to grace my bookshelves. Sometimes it can be very overwhelming to consider all of the different options and opinions. But one of the reasons that I love being somewhat obsessed with my training is the same reason that I love cooking and baking.

Go to the bookstore. (Or Amazon...let's be real.) Pick out five different cookbooks. Look up the recipe for chocolate chip cookies. I'm willing to bet that while all five are fairly similar, each cookbook will have their own spin or variation on the recipe. However, you'll always end up with chocolate chip cookies. You personally might be drawn to one recipe over another because of your preference, but it doesn't make any of the other recipes better or worse than the one you like.

Each person is their own recipe. What might work for one person to lose weight and prepare for a marathon might be quite as "tasty" to another. Which is why I'm glad that I have different options and schools of thought to consider. But here's the flip side. You could drive yourself batty finding the "perfect" training program. It's almost like the dangers of online dating...there's always another person/recipe/training plan out there (we're going for the triple analogy here, folks). At some point you have to go with your gut and what you think is going to be the best for YOU. It's all trial and error.

Here are a couple of things I've learned so far:

1) If I'm going for weight loss, I have to take my fish oil regularly. It just helps me maintain a better balance in my body. Check out this article if you're interested in learning a little bit more about fish oil supplements.

2) I need to surround myself with like minded individuals to be successful in my weight loss. I can't be around people who don't respect my dietary choices. And as stupid as that sounds, you wouldn't believe the amount of people who give me a hard time when I opt for the salad or to skip the beer. (Ok, I am a Wisconsin girl who loves her beer. So maybe I don't always skip the beer, but I like to have the option.)

3) Right along with number 2 (somewhere Chandler Bing and Joey Tribiani are laughing right now...), I need people who are going to encourage me in my goals and choices. I want people around me who are going to ask me about my training and be genuinely interested. One of the worst responses that someone had when I told them I was going to train for a marathon was, "Are you crazy? I would NEVER want to do that! Who would ever want to run that far?" The snarky self inside of me wanted to respond with, "Well, no one is asking you to do it, but I am going to run it." But alas, my filter was kicked on that day and instead I'm now sharing it with all of you.

4) I love to make lists. Oh, wait. I knew that one already...onto number 5...

5) Interval training is where it's at if I want to slice time off of my mile. This is what I struggle with because I want to be faster, and yet I love settling into that easy, long run pace. I know those bad boys are good for me though.

6) Ice the knees, heat the calves, quads, and hammies. (Ice cream optional.)

7) You have crappy knees, so strength from other areas is key. Hip flexors need attention and loving too.

8) There is no substitute for a strong core.

9) Instagram is an amazing place to surround yourself with strangers that are as encouraging as your best friends. And many times, that stupid picture and the likes I get from other runners and triathletes is the thing that gets me out of bed and running in the morning. #hashtageverything

10) Running on an empty stomach makes me really hangry the last ten minutes of my run. Cinnamon raisin english muffin it is.

11) Running from 5-7am in Phoenix is the only sane time to run outside in the summertime. Thankfully I'm a teachers and have the flexibility to make that my run time in the summers. The only ones subject to my non-morning person lovely self are my running shoes.

12) Having pretty running shoes helps. If you're not looking forward to putting them on, you're not going to like what you're doing in them either.

13) I get bored. It's important to be training for something specific and to change it up. Right now I'm aiming for the marathon, but I'm also planning on doing a sprint tri about two months before. The swimming and biking help to break it up and give my mind some other things to think about. Plus the low-impact cardio certainly can't hurt!

14) Hit the gym. Regularly. And not just the cardio side. (See number 8).

15) Heathy people are happy people. I challenge you to go to any sort of run or multisport event. You will not find angry or frustrated people there. (Unless of course there's the occasional keys locked in the car or cell phone water injury.) Isn't it better being happy? Plus all that health stuff helps boost your immune system too.

16) It's ok to splurge. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to make a habit of eating pizza and beer every night. But I'm a realist about it too. I'm not an elite athlete. It isn't my job (although I'm currently acting like it) to run races. So it's ok if I indulge in a treat every now and then. This is one that I have a hard time with many times. As someone who has struggled with her weight the better part of her adult life, there is a lot of guilt associated with treats. I'm working remembering that they are "treats" and not "habits" and moving on with my life.

17) There's a difference between a quality workout and a mediocre workshop. I need to continually strive to make them quality workouts.

18) I need to drink more water. Come on people, I live in the desert. But even if I didn't, I am constantly working on upping my water intake. Everything (and I mean everything) just functions better when you're hydrated.

Oh boy, once I got going on that list I had a hard time stopping! That's the power of the list, people. And on that note, I'm off to hit the swimming pool...that is if the thunderstorms can hold off. (Yes, thunderstorms in Phoenix today. CRAZY. Cue the crazy driving...I mean crazier than normal driving.)

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