Wednesday, May 30, 2012

5 steps to be a "nutritarian"

Vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, flexatarian, pescavegan, etc. I'm so tired of all of these lifestyle/diet labels! Meat-eaters call me vegan, but I eat fish and eggs, which then makes vegans call me a "poser." So I'm adopting a new term that I saw on a comment on The Athletarian blog...nutritarian. I eat nutritious foods that fuel my body. Being a nutritarian is actually becoming a thing! Here are my five simple steps to becoming a nutritarian. And remember, this is a lifestyle and not a diet.

1. Food is Fuel. The number one rule is to treat food as fuel for your body. Is that doughnut really going to provide energy for your organs to function properly? Is that mac and cheese going to power your muscles during a workout or just end up on your stomach as fat? While getting to a healthy weight means burning more calories than you take in, keeping a healthy weight is all about the quality of the calories that you eat. If all of the food that you eat is nutritious and your body uses it, it will not get stored as fat. The easiest way to make sure that food is going to fuel your body is to make everything from scratch and use a lot of plants (see step #2). However, if you must buy processed foods, read the label. Don't buy it if you can't understand the ingredients.

2. Live Plant-Based. When planning a meal, people usually pick a meat or fish as the main event and then match veggies and other foods as sides. Often, we forget about the importance of the veggie sides and therefore our dishes lack the important nutrition provided by plants. Why not center your meal around the plant instead? Start in the veggie section of the store and pick a vegetable that's on sale, in season, or looks particularly fresh and delicious. Then, think about what kind of meal you can make with this vegetable. Brussel sprouts would make a great casserole or grilled asparagus is delicious, for example. Then buy the ingredients for the rest of your dish. If you make plants the main event of your meals, you'll have an easier time getting all of the servings you need in a day.

3. Beware of Dairy. Humans are the only species that eat/drink the milk of another animal, and the only ones that drink milk as adults. Let's go back to the purpose of milk in mammals...mother's milk is meant to feed a baby so that it will grow. Therefore, cow's milk is meant to turn a small calf into a huge cow. So, the only real reasons humans should drink cow's milk are if they are malnourished or want to grow larger in size. There is no other nutritional value to milk that you can't obtain from plants (including calcium). Have you ever tried eating dairy-free? You'd be surprised at how much better you feel, even if you are not lactose-intolerent. You'll experience less bloating, less stomach fat, and a healthier digestive system.

4. Brown not White. Breads and pastas are really hard to give up unless you're gluten-intolerant and they make you sick. You can enjoy carbs in moderate amounts and still be healthy. Just make sure to eat whole-grain, unbleached breads and pastas and brown rice. Anything that is white has been bleached and deprived of most nutrients. White carbs will not give you the energy that you need.

5. Sugar is the Devil. Numerous studies (and common sense) show that no amount of processed sugar is good for the body and that it can even be harmful by increasing the risk of diseases such as cancer. See my post on Obesity and Sugar Tax. Processed sugar will not be used by your body for energy and will be stored as fat. You should avoid it as much as possible. This is tough because sugar is not only in sweets but in almost any processed food. I avoid sugar in processed foods like ketchup and peanut butter by buying products that are sweetened naturally with honey or agave nectar. Real maple syrup and coconut oil also make good sweeteners. While they still contain sugar, as do fruits, the sugar is in an unprocessed form that will actually be used by your body and give you energy. Fake chemical sweeteners (such as in diet coke) are also bad, but that's a whole other post.

Do you already follow some of  these rules? Do you have any more healthy eating rules?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fitness Log: Week 1/16

I'm calling this past week "Week 1" of my training for the Chicago Half Marathon.So, here's what I did:

Monday - SkinnyFit WOD
Walking lunges
Single unders (jump rope)
400 m run between each round
Time: ~39 minutes

Tuesday - Recover
I had to recover today because my thighs/butt/abs were killing me from Monday!
20 minutes on stationary bike and mile on treadmill, plus stretching

Wednesday - Short Run
I'm still sore from Monday!
3 mile easy run (no time because I forgot my watch)

Thursday - CrossFit WOD
5 rounds:
400 m run
10 pull ups (assisted with red band)
20 wall balls (10#)
Total time: 21:23

Friday through Sunday I went out of town for Memorial day weekend and while I did bring my running clothes and never happened. I'm SO BAD at exercising when I'm out of town, whether for work or vacation. My goal for next week is to workout out while I'm out of town over the weekend again!

How do you movivate yourself to workout while out of town?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Yerba Mate Tea

Since I've started working full time in an office, my new favorite obession is yerba mate tea. I love the taste and the caffeine boost is great in the morning or afternoon. yerba mate tastes and looks a lot like green tea, but it isn't. It's really popular in South American and is thought to have even better health benefits than green tea. Yerba mate comes from the leaves of the rainforest holly tree (Ilex paraguariensis) and is naturally caffeniated. Plus it has antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Yerba mate is actually more popular than even coffee in some South American countries! You can read more here.

So why isn't it more popular in North America? I think it's mainly because of the price and availability. But yerba mate is becoming more popular as people are exploring things outside of the traditional American diet. And my favorite website, Amazon, sells it for pretty cheap now! 75 bags for $12.45 is a pretty good price for any tea. I encourage you to try yerba mate and add it to your daily routine. I usually drink mine plain but adding honey or a milk product sounds good too.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

I love pizza and even though I don't eat dairy or meat, I still like to make it at home. I usually buy a whole wheat pre-made mini pizza crust and just add toppings. But a friend pointed me to this cauliflower pizza crust recipe from Lauren Conrad's blog a while ago. It took me a few tries to get it right but I think I have it down now! To make this recipe even healthier, I use Daiya mozarrella-style cheese. It's available at any Whole Foods or other health food store. This cheese substitute is plant based and soy free. It's definitely the best cheese alternative that I've found! (I'm not kidding, I've started to crave Daiya instead of real cheese).


1 cup cooked, riced cauliflower
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon crushed garlic
½ teaspoon garlic salt
olive oil (optional)
pizza sauce, shredded cheese and choice of your toppings*


To "rice" the Cauliflower: Take 1 large head of fresh cauliflower, remove stems and leaves, and chop the florets into chunks. Add to food processor and pulse until it looks like grain. Do not over-do pulse or you will puree it. (If you don't have a food processor, you can grate the whole head with a cheese grater). Place the riced cauliflower into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 6 minutes. There is no need to add water, as the natural moisture in the cauliflower is enough to cook itself. One head should produce approximately 1 cup of riced cauliflower.

To Make the Pizza Crust:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, stir together riced cauliflower, egg and mozzarella. **The first time I did this I used the Daiya cheese in the crust and it came out soggy. Regular mozzarella might work in the crust but the Daiya didn't. So I ended up just using a little more cauliflower.** Add oregano, crushed garlic and garlic salt, stir. Transfer to the cookie sheet, and using your hands, pat out into a round making it about a half-inch thick. Optional: Brush olive oil over top of mixture to help with browning. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. To the crust, add sauce, toppings and cheese. Place under a broiler at high heat just until cheese is melted (approximately 3-4 minutes). I used garlic marinara sauce and green peppers for the topping. You may want to precook any vegetables since you will only cook the whole pizza a few minutes. I also added crushed red pepper for taste

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Half marathon training has started!

I officially started training for my half marathon this week by checking out a new crossfit gym in Chicago, River North Crossfit. Everyone was welcoming and I already made some new friends! I went twice this week and both workouts killed me because I've been pretty lazy since I moved to Chicago two weeks ago. I'd like to blame that on spending a lot of time trying to organize, fill, and decorate our new apartment. Sooo, I am extremely sore and even walking is really hard! I'm going to try a short run tomorrow just to loosen up.

The great thing about RNCF is that its super-close to my apartment (half a mile) so its really easy to run/walk there. The owner even lives in my building! I also like that it's new because the equipment is nice and the space is big. It's downtown location also means that there are a lot of young people so hopefully I can make some new friends that love working out as much as I do :)

River North CrossFit

Last summer I lived in DC and would go to a crossfit gym near work in the morning and shower there before heading to the office. I'm going to do the morning thing again this summer because its light out at 6 am and also cooler. Plus, RNCF has a discount if you do mornings only. They also offer endurance WODs on Tuesdays and Fridays. So I plan my workout week to look like this:

Monday AM - Crossfit
Tuesday AM - Crossfit (optional), Tuesday PM - Endurance WOD
Wednesday AM - Crossfit
Thursday AM/PM - Endurance-type WOD on my own or run 3-5 miles
Friday AM - Crossfit
Saturday or Sunday - Long run (other weekend day is rest)

I'm going to try to post a summary of my workouts every week to track my progress!

I also finally joined Pinterest so follow me! (Click on the button to the right)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The wonders of an afternoon walk

I got into a really good habit of taking short afternoon walks when I worked in DC last summer and I'm definitely continuing to do that this summer. Taking a 10-20 minute walk in the afternoon really lightens my mood and makes me more productive. I often see people working through lunch and not leaving their desks all day, other than for meetings. I think that's really stressful and that taking a break actually does make you more productive. (There have been actual studies on it that I've read before.)

Walk the Block

So, besides giving you great break from work, afternoon walks have plenty of other benefits! Doing something other than sitting in your office chair is great for your muscles and posture. Burning calories is great too and extra exercise is good for your health. Soaking up some sun will give you a good dose of vitamin D. Also, your eyes will have a rest from the computer screen. And finally, walking outside on a great day just feels amazing!

Bring an extra pair of comfy shoes to work tomorrow and take a lunchtime or afternoon'll be surprised at how good it makes you feel!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Chicago Half Marathon!

Now that school/moving are over and I'm back to a schedule, I'll start posting more regularly! Plus, I signed up for the Chicago Half Marathon on Sept. 9 so I plan to keep you up to date with my meals and work outs. The half is about 18 weeks away which is great for building up my mileage. Right now I'm at more of a 3-mile threshold so I really need to up my mileage before the half.

I've trained in many different ways in the past using either slow, high-mileage or crossfit/cross-training and low mileage. I usually get hurt with high-mileage and I don't think I was prepared enough just doing crossfit and a little of crossfit endurance. I think I would have to follow Crossfit Endurance exactly (and with a motivated coach) for it to really work. Therefore, I've devised a plan to train by using crossfit and crossfit endurance during the week and long slow distance (LSD) on the weekends. So crossfit will keep me strong and tough and also has some running workouts. Plus, the gym in Chicago that I want to join does some crossfit endurance workouts on the track.

On the weekends, I will do my long runs to build up my stamina and make sure that my legs can handle the distance. I listed all of the upcoming saturdays below and how much I plan to run. I want to start shorter to ease into the longer distances. I also have a couple of "shorter" 8-mile runs in August so I don't burn out. Plus, that gives me flexibility if I happen to go out of town on a weekend. I'm going to put in this schedule in my google and work calendars so I don't get lazy!

May 12 - 3 miles
May 19 - out of town (probably won't run)
May 26 - 4 miles
June 2 - 4 miles
June 9 - 5 miles
June 16 - 5 miles
June 23 - 6 miles
June 30 - 6 miles
July 7 - 7 miles
July 14 - 8 miles
July 21 - 9 miles
July 28 - 10 miles
Aug 4 - 8 miles
Aug 11 - 11 miles
Aug 18 - 8 miles
Aug 25 - 12 miles
Sept 1 - taper - 6 miles
Sept 9 - RACE DAY!

What do you think about this plan? Have you tried different training methods rather than just LSD to train for long races? I'm curious to hear what you think!