Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Workout Wednesday & Elf 4 Health Update!

Can you believe tomorrow is Thanksgiving?! I can't wait!  :)

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm taking part in the Elf 4 Health Challenge.  The challenge is a month long and we each have an "Elf" buddy to help keep us accountable.  My "elf" Aly is super sweet and we're having fun getting to know each other via e-mail.  We are actually both originally from Massachusetts, only a couple towns apart!  Here is the calendar of daily challenges we have taken on for the month:

Day 1 was Meatless Monday and this was a first for me!  I noticed it forced me to focus a lot more on what I was eating & I tended to include a lot more veggies in each meal.  Win!  I think I will try to do a Meatless Monday each week! I kept track of my meals for the day over on instagram (@gosupermamago). 

Day 2 we were to unsubscribe from at least 3 e-mail lists.  I ended up unsubscribing to about 100, seriously!  I don't even know how I ended up on all those lists!  I also took the time to purge my e-mail.  At one point a couple years ago I didn't check my e-mail very often & deleted NOTHING.  It is embarrassing how many e-mails I had piled up, but I'm almost done cleaning house.  I'm so thankful for this day of the challenge because it forced me to finally get that done!

Day 3 is a new workout!  My "elf" Aly e-mailed me the following workout that she did with a trainer friend the other day:

Do the circuit 4 (or 5)times though with 2-3 mins rest in between each set:
10 push ups 
20 burpees
30 mountain climbers
40 jump squats
50 second plank
So that will be my workout for the day!  Should be interesting because I am already super sore from Monday & Tuesdays workouts.  I am doing a little 30 day challenge with myself.  I am going to be sure I am doing something active every day from now until Christmas.  (I started Nov. 25th)  Some days will be active rest, but I am also going to really push it.  I lost strength during marathon training and I am ready to get it back.  As soon as the knee is back on track I will start building up my mileage as well. 
If you are looking for a new workout to do today check out these links for workouts I have posted on the blog in the past:
Have you set any goals/challenges for yourself lately?
What is your favorite Thanksgiving day food?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Weekend Fun

We started off the weekend with a lazy Friday night & a movie (The Princess & The Frog).

On Saturday my Aunt Kathy and I took the girls to get their Christmas Pictures done.  Here's a few that were taken:

Yup, they are just gorgeous (yes I know I'm biased) and I want a copy of every single photo taken.

Today is bitter cold up here in the Northeast.  Perfect day for a slow cooker pot roast & fresh homemade rolls.  I had this roast cooking in the slow cooker by 9am.  It was amazing and falling apart when we ate it at 5ish.

I managed a (mostly) pain-free 2.5 mile run this weekend.  So I'm hoping this is a good preview of pain-free runs to come.  I will also admit that my run was just a little miserable.  Running about 45 seconds slower than marathon pace and feeling out of breathe is certainly humbling.  But you know what, I'm just going to be happy that I'm able to run at all.  Running makes me so happy & I know I am blessed to be able to do it!

I joined in on the Elf For Health Challenge.  Check it out if you are looking for a fun holiday health challenge and to meet new people!  It's closed for the first round, but you can still join in and have lots of fun during the second round.  Here is the link:

Tonight I'm waiting for Sunday night football.  My least favorite time (because I'm going to fall asleep during the game.)  Anyways, GO PATS!!!! :)  While we are waiting hubby and  I are watching : "Alaska the Last Frontier" and I want to move there every time we watch. I'm sure Skinnyrunner can talk me out of it (or not). :)

Do you keep up with football this time of year? 

What is your favorite cold weather meal?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Martini's & Muscles

Happy Friday!

I was actually looking forward to Thursday more than Friday this week because my Sister in Law Amanda was coming to visit for the night.  She came down and we took the girls to the book fair at Devin's school and then we went out for dinner & drinks.  We ended up going to a nearby Italian/Mediterranean Restaurant.  They have $7 martini's on Thursday nights & yummy grilled pizzas.  We ended up with a stuffed Portobello appetizer and we shared two grilled pizza halfs.  My fav of the two was the Pear & Prosciutto Grilled Pizza.  It was delicious! 

After dinner we grabbed a bottle of red wine & a couple chocolate bars.  We brought them back to my house and chatted all night while we had some vino and dessert.

                                        Shiraz, Sea Salt Almond & Coconut Dark Chocolate

I am so blessed to have Amanda as my sis in law.  She is absolutely amazing & super supportive.  (My brother Jack (her hubby) is also pretty great too.) :) She also is responsible for getting me into racing.  I don't know what I would do without her, she deserves her own entire separate post one of these days.

Now on to the muscles part of the post. A full body workout that I did yesterday (you know to burn off the drinks & pizza in advance).   I love total body workouts.  Even more I love total body workouts that incorporate jump training & keep your heart rate high the whole time.  This means you burn more calories in a shorter amount of time.  I am all about short bursts of high intensity work. 

This is a circuit workout, which means you will complete each move  as many times as you can during the interval (with good form) before moving on to the next.  You can do it 2-3x through for a 20-30 minute workout.  I did it 2x.  The intervals are 50 seconds of work with 10 seconds of rest. 
  • 1 Leg Weighted Lunge (L)
  • 1 Leg Weighted Lunge (R)
  • Jump Lunges
  • Incline Push-ups
  • Burpees (Full)
  • Plank Toe Touch
  • Butterfly Sit-ups
  • Jump Squats
  • Weighted Sumo-Squat with knee to elbow
  • Push-up to side plank
The best part about interval training is that it can be adjusted to you.  You aren't doing a certain amount of reps, you are doing as many reps as you can in the given time.  Interval workouts are a great way to gauge progress.  Keep track of how many reps you can complete.  Go back in a few weeks and perform the same workout again to see how much improvement you have made.  I am going to make a point of this over the next 30 days.  Since right now I'm (very) limited on my running, I am trying to get stronger.  I think this will be important during my next marathon training cycle.

The above workout can also be done without weight, it would still be a fantastic workout using your own body weight.  Just be sure to push harder to get as many reps as possible (with good form) done during each interval.

Do you keep track of your strength gains?  Whether it be in running, strength or flexibility, how do you keep track to make sure you are improving?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thanksgiving Plans & Menu Ideas

For the past few years we have headed up to Maine for Thanksgiving to my brother & sister in laws (Jack & Amanda) house.  We would head up the night before or morning of and  I would help my Amanda cook all day (with mimosas of course).  My family and her family would all come over late afternoon and we would have a big yummy dinner.  We would follow up dinner with beer tasting and games until late into the night.  Unfortunately, this isn't our plan this year.  Amanda had to go ahead and graduate from Med School, so her and Jack moved to Connecticut for Residency. (the nerve huh?)  :)

Anyways, we took a while figuring out what we actually would do this year for Thanksgiving and ultimately decided it would be nice to stay home just the 4 of us.  My mom will be doing dinner at her house in Maine, but not until 6pm because she is flying out Sunday to greet my brother Kevin in Kentucky as he returns from Afghanistan on Monday or Tuesday. (YAY!)  She is actually spending the morning with him on Thanksgiving and flying home in the afternoon, so she won't be around most of the day.  And my little sister's (Meaghan) baby shower is on Saturday, so the girls and I are going to head up on Friday and spend the night and get in some family time then.  We do have other family we could visit, but since we will be doing a lot of traveling over the weekend it will be nice to just stay home and relax on Thanksgiving.

                                      Yes that is her (Meaghan)-------------------^ How cute is she?

I think this is the first time we have stayed home for Thanksgiving since having the girls, so I want to make it fun.  The girls and I have started menu planning and have picked a few fun Thanksgiving crafts to make over the weekend for decorations.

Like this Banner:

And this Thanksgiving Turkey:

And a centerpiece of some sort.  I haven't found one I really like that is possible to make as a craft with the kids.  Let me know if you have any ideas!

I'm still deciding on our complete menu.  I want to have all of our favorites, but with only 4 of us I don't want to have loads of leftovers.  So here is what I have so far:

  • Crab Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Cheese & Crackers
Main Course:
  • Turkey
  • Ham (hubby is allergic to poultry, yes for real.)
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Green Bean Casserole (I will make this fresh, no canned soup here)
  • Roasted Butternut Squash
  • Brussel Sprouts made with pancetta or bacon
  • Homemade Corn Bread
  • Peanut Butter Pie
  • Mini Apple Pie's
I may add or take away some of these.  Like I said I don't want too much food, but I want everyone to be happy.  I have to ask hubby if he is set on stuffing because he is the only one who will eat it, but if he really wants it I will make it.  I was trying to think of another appetizer that the kids will eat because they won't eat the stuffed mushrooms. They love shrimp so maybe I will get a little to cook up as an app.  I will be sure to add some of the recipe's I will be using as we get closer to the big day, so be sure to check back if you are looking for any ideas!

We are planning to do a family hike this day, probably before dinner.  Otherwise we will just be hanging out, spending time together, watching football & maybe a family movie!

What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish?  Do you spend the holiday at home or visiting family/friends?  Any fun traditions?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

"Long" Run & Sunday Funday

It's just super sad to me when my "long" run is 3 miles.  But, I'm still trying to figure out my knee issue & have been running only once a week for the past 4 weeks(since marathon Sunday).  Each weekend I'm hopeful things have changed, but as of now they just haven't.  I'm stubborn, but not dumb and this pain is not just a little nagging muscle issue.  I'm not real sure WHAT it is, and if I can't fix it through rest/stretching/icing/foam rolling I will go see a specialist, but I'm trying all that first.

Here are some photos from Sunday Funday:

The girls did a little cookie decorating with a friend.

And had a healthy snack to balance off the frosting and sprinkles... (thank you Pinterest)

Hubby set up a tire swing "for the kids"

Yup, very believable ;)

I had a few mimosas with a friend & I enjoyed a little of my new favorite beer:

If you are a fan of stouts I think you should give this a shot because it is fantastic.

How was your weekend?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Slow Cooker Beef & Barley Soup

Tuesday we had our first snowfall!  Cori (my 4 y/o) let us all know bright and early (by waking everyone up) that it had snowed "even though it wasn't Christmas yet!" She says the cutest and funniest stuff all the time.  I really should write more of it down.  Anyways, seeing as how these next couple of days are going to be the coldest so far I decided it would be a great day to pull out the slow cooker.  I'm in desperate need of a trip to the grocery store, but thankfully we had a roast on Sunday and I had enough leftovers to make some beef & barley soup.  It came out delicious and my house smelled amazing all day!  And better yet, it is kid approved.  My kids both said they didn't like beef and barley soup (they like to change their mind a lot about liking or not liking foods), but once they tried it (again) they both liked it.

Slow Cooker Beef & Barley Soup

1 lb leftover roast (I usually use a bottom round roast, I'm sure other cuts are fine too)*
6 cups of water
2  1/2 Tbs. Low Sodium Better than Bouillon
1 Tbs. Butter (I used Smart Balance, I'm sure you could use Olive Oil too)
1 1/2 C Carrots
1/2 C Barley
2 Small Potatoes
1 medium sized onion
2 tsp. Italian Seasoning*
1Tbs. Tomato Paste*
1 Cup of Green Beens*
1 Cup of mushrooms*

*I didn't measure any of these items so I'm guestimating on the amount.

This is really an easy recipe to make.  Just chop the meat & veggies.  Boil the water and then add the Better Than Bouillon until dissolved.  Then add everything to the slow cooker except the onions, butter, Italian Seasoning, green beans, and mushrooms. Sauté the onion in the butter and once its softened add the Italian seasoning and mix it well, then add that to the slow cooker.  I waited until about an hour or so before we were planning to eat to add the mushrooms and green beans (we don't like mushy green beans around here). I cooked on high for a few hours and then turned it down to low for a total of about 5 hours.  I am sure you could also cook it on low for 6-8 or high for 4 or so.

This is a pretty forgiving recipe and I think you could change the recipe around a bit to fit your tastes and it would still come out tasty.  If I would have had red wine on hand I probably would have thrown in some of that too. Guess next time I'm thinking of making this soup I'll try to refrain from drinking all the vino first..

I also made a loaf of fresh whole wheat bread in the bread maker to go along with the soup. Yum!

Do you use your slow cooker a lot in the winter?  What is your favorite meal to make in there?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

15 Minute Lower Body Blast

I generally like to focus on full body workouts about 3x a week.  I am a big fan of quick, high intensity circuit style workouts.  I decided to switch things up a bit this week and focus separate days on lower body/upper body/& abs.  I primarily decided to do this to give my knee a bit more rest in between workouts.  It doesn't tend to bother me any more than usual during strength training, but with more pain following a short (4 mile) run Sunday I'm trying to play it safe. 

Here is a great (quick) way to "blast" your lower body:

15 Minute Lower Body Blast

-Sumo Squats
-Single Leg Step-ups (R)
-Single Leg Step-ups (L)
-Weighted Bridge

Again I used my trusty barbell for weight and I also used an online interval timer (Link) for this workout.  I set the timer for 15 rounds of 50 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest.  This means you will complete each move for 50 seconds with 10 seconds of rest before moving on to the next move.  You will complete the entire circuit 3x.

I am really working on trying to strengthen my hips so I did 3 sets of 15 inner and outer leg lifts on each side after I completed the above workout.  Then I stretched and "foam rolled" ( I actually used a frozen water bottle.) I've never been great at consistently stretching, but I am really trying to change that!

What are your favorite type of strength workouts?  Do you split body parts or focus on full body?

Monday, November 11, 2013

"Land of The Free Because of The Brave"

I love that quote.  I'd just like to take a moment today to thank all of those who have served and are currently serving our country.  I got to spend the day with my favorite vet:

The girls and I baked him some homemade chocolate chip cookies and they made him a card.  It was an unplanned day off from work for him and I am glad he got to have it.  (and we got some unexpected family time.)

My other favorite military man is still serving in overseas, but we are expecting him home (early) sometime in the beginning of December.  My brother Kevin is serving his second tour in Afghanistan and I can't wait to have him home for good.

                                                 ( Kevin & I at our brother Jack's wedding)

And my brother in law Thomas is also currently serving our military:
                                          (My beautiful little sis & her hubby (Thomas) )

And of course a I'm thinking of my Pa.  He has passed (my girls and I miss him all the time), and he was a vet as well. 

                                  (My Pa with cori when she was a baby, wish I could go back!)

I am so thankful to each of them and each and every man & woman that serves our country!

Is anyone special to you a part of our military?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Off Season & What's Next

Now that the marathon is done been I have been doing a lot of thinking about what I'll be aiming for next.  First in order is to get my knee better.  I'm not exactly sure how long this is going to take, so I'm not planning anything for the immediate future.  But, I do have some spring time goals and I think I've picked my next full marathon.  Turns out it may not be so bad to have to take some time to rest, or even have an "off" season.  I stumbled upon this (article) from Runners World today that I thought was thought provoking at the least:

Why You Need a Race Training Off Season

Some key points:

"Every professional athlete has an off season. Baseball players do it in the fall. Football players in the spring. Can you imagine what the NFL would look like if they didn't take time away from game season? Easy—there simply wouldn't be a game season because they would all be injured."

Yes I realize most of us aren't professionals.  However, if the professionals need time to recover than wouldn't it make sense that us mere mortals probably do to? 

"The off season is the "winter" in our training lives. It's a time to heal from the demands of training volume and intensity. It's a time to run horizontally rather than progressively. And it's a time to rejuvenate by weaving in other fun activities. "

This really hits home with me.   We put our body through a lot during race training.  I know that mine really needs a bit of rest after a hard race.  Also, I know a lot of us are worn out from high mileage, speed work, tempos, etc. and really start to look forward to taper close to the end of training.  I think its perfectly ok to want to take a few weeks to run lower mileage and without a watch and just enjoy your run.  And not feel guilty if you want to go for a bike ride or something else instead.

"If the off season were a color, it would be green, as it's a time to sprout new goals and develop plans on how to reach these new goals. When you're running in the off season, you have time to reflect on your achievements and discover your next authentic goal (the one that truly inspires you). "

This is where I am at now.  Developing a plan of action so that I can be even more on point during my next training cycle.  Focusing on new goals.  This gets me excited.  It also makes me want to sign up for another race right now.  But I know I probably wouldn't hit my goal if I did (another race right away).

"You might be surprised that the off season isn't off at all. It's only off in terms of the training-racing cycle. But it's on in terms of running, cross-training and staying fit and active.''

Yes!  I'm glad to hear that an "off" season doesn't mean you don't run at all.  It just means you don't train hard to race, you let your body rest from pushing it to the limits.  I don't know about you, but I'm not interested in losing the base I've built.  But I am ok with taking it easy so my body is ready to be pushed to its limits when my next race does come around.

With that said, I know there are lots of opinions on the topic and lots of people really enjoy doing lots of racing.  I think that's fine too.  Everyone is different and everyone's body reacts different lots of racing/training.  Someone may be able to have a week or two of "off" time and be good to go, someone else may need 3-4 weeks or more.  I also think training and off time is really dependent upon your goals too.  Just remember listen to your body, if it needs some resting and TLC give it that!

Speaking of goals & racing, here is a tentative plan of what I think is up next for me:

Potentially a winter Half Marathon.  I'm looking at the Half at the Hamptons in Hampton, NH. This is really going to depend upon my knee/training.

A Spring Marathon, at least a few weeks out from the Full in May.  I'm eyeing a couple.  My Half PR is a couple years old (1:36:22) and I'm ready to beat it.  I want a sub 1:35.

Maine Coast Marathon--This race is in May and it looks great!  According to their website, it is back after 26 years.  It claims to be fast, but not flat.  I think this will be a really great course for me.  I run on lots of hills and wouldn't mind a rolling course.  It should also have gorgeous views along the coast and is close to my family in Maine.  My goal for this race is going to be a sub 3:30, depending on how well my training goes I may aim for 3:25.  We shall see.

So there ya have it.  Lots of hard to training in my future! I can't wait!

And because this post is boring and has no photos, here are a couple Halloween Costume pics I hadn't shared :)

What's next for you?  Do you have an "off" season?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Workout Wednesday & A Couple Fun Fall Crafts

Today I have a fun workout for you and a couple fun craft ideas for your kids!  And if you don't have kids, open a bottle of wine during after your workout and use the cork to make your own craft! Or not....

Anyways, if you are like me and looking for something to entertain your kid(s) during a workout, dinner, etc.  Here are a couple simple crafts I found on Pinterest:

Busy Mom's Helper: Family fun, food, recipes and crafts.: 12+ Fall Crafts for KIDS

Popsicle stick scarecrows (Fall)
Both of these crafts are pretty self explanatory and once you get the kiddies set up with all of the materials you need, you can do your workout!  I'm sure there will still be interruptions, but I still figure its a win/win situation.

Here is the workout I did today:

15 Deadlifts
10 Spidey Push-ups
10 Forward and then side Lunges (on each side)
10 Clean and Press
15 Butterfly Sit-ups
10 Push-Press
15 Toe Touch Abs

Repeat 3-5x or use it as an 20 minute AMRAP (as many reps as possible).  The key is to keep your heart rate up the entire time by taking no/short rest.

I used a barbell for the deadlifts, lunges, clean and press, and push press but you can easily sub dumbbells.  I ended up doing it 4x today.  I'm trying not to push it too much with my knee right now.

What workout did you do today?  I'm jealous of anyone who got to run! :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Focus: selectively concentrating on one aspect of the environment while ignoring other things. (source)

While I found a few differently worded definitions of the word focus, I think the one that says it best is the one above.  We CHOOSE what we focus on, and I think many of us waste a lot of energy focusing on things we can't change.  Or focus on the outcome instead of the process.  Surely we know the process is what is going to determine the outcome in the end.  Constantly worrying about a number on the scale, a number in a race, the number in your bank acct., etc.  isn't going to change the outcome.
 There are several areas I found myself focusing on lately that are really a waste of energy.  One is focusing on the past.  I think it is important to look at the past to analyze what things could have been done differently to prevent some type of perceived failure. After all life is about learning from our mistakes.  But, then we need to let it go.  You can't change the past, so you have no business living there.  I'll use the example of a race not going to way you wanted because I know most reading can relate.  Take the time to learn what could have been differently.  Take the time to be mad/angry/upset.  Then move on.  Sign up for another race and focus on that goal.  One outcome does not define you.  Focus on a new plan.  And instead of one huge goal at the end set up a lot of small goals you can aim for that will all help lead you to the outcome that you desire.  Like many lessons in running, this can be applied to many other parts of your life.

~ Focus ~

Another thing I know many of us focus on is body image.  In a day in age where perfect bodies are portrayed everywhere it is not hard to get down on yourself.  You want to look a certain way or be a certain weight.  This can lead so many to make unhealthy changes.  Instead of focusing on others and the way they look, focus on you.  Are there healthy changes in your life that will make you feel better?  Could you eat better, exercise more, sleep more, or drink more water?  Again, small attainable goals can be set, and should be celebrated.  Focus on living a healthier life.  Make changes that make you happy.  Life is too short to be miserable.  Don't like to run? Don't.  Find some other way to keep active.  Don't want to worry about every morsel that goes in your mouth? Don't.  Focus on making healthier choices and substituting better ingredients in your favorite meals.  Also focus on what amazing things your body can do, and not on things you wish it did better.  Focus on something you love about your body now, not on how you will love it after it looks a certain way.

With Thanksgiving well on its way, we should all try to make it a priority to focus on the things we are thankful for. (we could all probably do that a little more all year long)  Things that we have, rather than don't.  Things in our life that make us happy, not all the problems big and small that will
continue to come up day in and day out of our lives.  This is my goal for the month of November.

Change your focus, change your direction, change your life
Is there something in your life that you focus on a lot that maybe doesn't deserve so much of your time and energy?