Family Affair

I was going to write about the weather because it’s been pretty weird as of late. It has been in the low 40’s during the day and then snows over night, just enough to cover the ground. Don’t get me wrong, I love waking up to a fresh snow, it’s clean and crisp but by mid morning it has melted and the mud has taken over the beautiful scenery.

This is the view I wake up to... light snow cover- beautiful!

This is the view I wake up to… light snow cover- beautiful!

This is what part of our yard looks like mid morning. YUCK!

This is what part of our yard looks like mid morning. YUCK!

Needless to say I’ve had a few opportunities to run outside this week. Yesterday, my mom wanted to hit our local bike path for a walk. We peer pressured dad into to going, and even brought the dog! While they walked with the dog, I ran. They racked up a few miles, I think mom said they managed 3, which is great for them because they don’t often get the opportunity to walk during the week. I got to put a big 7 on my training calendar. Mom and dad were nice enough to wait for me in the parking lot while I finished my last few miles. I didn’t take any pictures because I was pretty focused on keeping a decent pace (for me, which is slow).

10:10 is a good pace for me. Slow and steady...

10:10 is a good pace for me. Slow and steady…

I bragged to my brother a bit about my mileage and we made a run date for Tuesday. My point for sharing all this isn’t to gloat about how active my family is but to show you that you don’t have be physically active alone. While I was on the path yesterday, I saw a mother walking with her two daughters. Many couples were walking together, enjoying the mild weather together.

Going out to dinner, meeting a friend for coffee, inviting people over for brunch are easy ways to be social but being social doesn’t always have to revolve around food. Granted I love food and being social but walking, running, biking, rollerblading; they’re all great ways to be active AND great opportunities to be social.

I have posted about making physical activity social before, and I’ll continue to post about it because I hope it remains an integral part of my life.

Do you prefer to workout alone? or with friends? 

Weekend Recap: 6+miles, bread, and more snow!!!

Hello Tuesday! I blinked and POOF! Monday was gone. Let me just recap what has happened as of late.

This past weekend, I ran 6+ miles with my friend Ashley. She texted me earlier in the week asking me if I wanted to run Saturday morning then go to the movies in the afternoon. I asked her how many miles she thought we would do. Her response- “oh an easy 5″… Well Ashley can’t count apparently- we ended up doing closer to 7!! But it was a nice easy 7 in which we took a little break in the middle to stop by her “office” to take care of a few things. We took an hour or so to recuperate then headed to the theater to see Identity Thief. It was a decent movie.

Then Sunday came along and brought about a foot of snow!

Nothing more beautiful then after a fresh snowfall.

Nothing more beautiful then after a fresh snowfall.

So I stayed home, took another stab at making homemade bread.

Now that's what I call doubling in size for sure!

Now that’s what I call doubling in size for sure!

And… SUCCESS! It’s amazing what happens when you don’t use expired yeast!

Ta da!

Ta da!

It tastes even better than it looks!

Penelope has a carb addiction.

Penelope has a carb addiction.

Monday was filled with meetings. All that sitting made me a little antsy so I hit the gym after work. Note to self, 5:30 is peak gym time and I’d rather face 20 degrees and 25 mph winds then fight for a treadmill and breath stale air.

Had to thrown in a couple more snow pictures- it's so beautiful!

Had to thrown in a couple more snow pictures- it’s so beautiful!

Today was another busy day at work, and a lot of sitting which I know is bad for me. Too much sitting can raise my risk for diabetes, heart attack, cancer, AND some research even shows that it can make your bottom bigger! (Some of those risks out weigh others…) Needless to say, I hit the bike path after work and got in another 4 miles. I’m hoping to get a few more miles on the books tomorrow. More snow is in the future which may cramp my style except if mother nature grants me a snow day from work on Thursday- then I’d be one happy camper!

Just can't get enough, I just can't get enough!! (I probably wont be saying that in May when we're getting freak snow storms).

Just can’t get enough, I just can’t get enough!! (I probably wont be saying that in May when we’re getting freak snow storms).

OH- I did try a new recipe tonight. Red Lentil Soup, recipe courtesy of my boss. I only had a few tastes but I’ll give you the full scoop later- stay tuned!!

Transforming Fast Food!

Who knew that the first fast food joint was White Castle in 1921? and that KFC came before McDonalds? Then came In-N-Out Burger (whatever that is)… and then the U.S. got their coffee fix with Dunkin’ Donuts in 1950. Wendy’s was the last to join the party in 1968. As a nation, we have forced our food system to change to meet our needs. We wanted quick, cheap, easy to prepare convenience foods and the industry responded with fast food restaurants popping up, microwave meals, and ready to eat foods at convenience stores. The growing food industry has impacted the U.S. in more ways than economic development…

Decades later we’re in a health crisis with the chronic disease and obesity being the ring leaders. I am well aware that correlation doesn’t not mean causation but give credit where credit is due. I find it hard to believe that with the increase in food production and availability had nothing to do with the obesity crisis, I’m just waiting for a way to prove it.

Many years of health research has discovered that there is a connection between diet and disease rates (thank you China Study, Framingham Heart Study, etc.).  As we move forward to a more health conscious nation, with the weight loss industry topping at $20 billion in revenues including diet books, diet drugs, and weight loss surgeries, on top cancer drugs, respiratory drugs, and lipid lowering drugs topping the pharmaceutical industry charts, we’re now seeing a transformation in our food industry driven by the consumers. (Go US!)

Now with the health crisis, we are demanding more healthful, convenient foods, made from whole, healthful ingredients. I have seen a few ways we are now having our needs met with healthier food options. The first fast food chain to meet this was Subway, providing us with freshly made sandwiches and ditching the deep fat fryer. Then came the “skinny” and “smart” options popping up on menus everywhere. But what about a place where we don’t have to decided between the “healthy” option and the “not-so-healthy” option? What if there were a restaurant where making the healthy choice the easy choice? There is…

SWEET GREENS!

You can just visit their website or Google “Sweet Greens Restaurant” and get the dish on the origins of this new form of fast food, but I’ll give you a quick rendition of why I’m madly in love with this restaurant.

    • It truly is fast! In less than 7 minutes, which was the average service time over 3 visits (yes, I went there 3 days in a row).
  • Whole ingredients with a plethora of options including a TON of vegetarian options
  • Amazing flavors including dressings that make your mouth water- agave dijon, carrot chili vinaigrette, and lime cilantro jalapeno!

I forgot to take a picture of my first and third salad but here is a picture of salads 2.

Contents: kale, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, spicy broccoli, black beans, seed mix, goat cheese, topped with a balsamic vinaigrette.

Contents: kale, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, spicy broccoli, black beans, seed mix, goat cheese, topped with a balsamic vinaigrette.

You can check out the calorie content by checking out their “build your own salad” website! And of course I had to try their spicy kale chips.

mmmm spicy kale chips

mmmm spicy kale chips

Now I say this is new, only because this was my first experience with this type of restaurant but I could just be behind the curve, which isn’t out of the realm of possibilities. Needless to say, this post is to give mad props to Sweet Greens and similar restaurants out there who are involved with the revolution of our food industry!

Now is the time to become a vegetarian!

I have a 50+ minute commute to work so I usually catch my news on the radio (NPR is really the only all news station I can pick up). This morning was particularly interesting to me for a few reasons…

The first story I heard was of course about the up coming government sequester which is the across the board cuts that will take place March 1st unless congress can come up with a better plan. NPR reports that there are $85 billion dollars cut to government spending which will have an impact to many different sectors including air travel in the form of longer waits at the airport security lines, curtailing military training, fewer kids in the Head Start program, and increase in meat prices.

The increase in meat prices will be due to the lay off of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) meat inspectors. Meat processing plants will be forced to close or slow production due to the decrease in available inspectors on hand. USDA requires that there is an inspector on site when slaughtering occurs. This impact to production will disrupt the national food supply.

The next story I heard was about a U.K. slaughterhouse raided for allegations of replacing beef with horse meat.It appears that horse meat found it’s way into European processed beef products. Apparently some low-cost beef products tested positive for horse DNA. Government officials state that the horse meat poses no threat to human health but some are not so sure due to some horses being injected with a powerful veterinary drug.

The article states that the people that are impacted by this scandal don’t really care- they’re just looking for lower food prices. On a positive note, the nutrition content of horse meat is actually lower in fat and contains more protein than beef. Many French restaurateurs have moved away from beef and towards horse meat!

With all that information, wouldn’t you want to start the transition to a more plant-based diet? There are many health benefits to a plant-based diet including:

  • lower intake of saturated fat and cholesterol
  • higher intake of complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals
  • preliminary research finds prevention and treatment of certain diseases including cardiovascular, hypertension, diabetes, etc.
Vegetarian Body Builder Power lifting champion Bill Pearl

Vegetarian Body Builder Power Lifting Champion Bill Pearl

All this hoopla has quite the timing because I have been moving towards a more plant-based diet and actually haven’t consumed any meat in the last 3+ weeks. I’ve actually haven’t had too much trouble finding vegetarian options even when traveling.

For those of you that have given up meat or have decreased your intake, please share why.
For those of you that haven’t but are questioning whether you want to, share your questions.
For those of you that are die-hard meat eaters-  does the news of increased meat prices and the compromised integrity of meat set off any red flags to you about eating meat? 

Stay tuned for:

  • Reviews of two restaurants I ventured two while in D.C. for work!
  • Transition to a plant-based diet
  • More adventures of winter in Maine!

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Nemo came and conquered!

 

We got blasted this weekend with a nor’easter named Nemo! It started snowing Friday morning and has yet to stop! Luckily, the snow was the light and fluffy kind rather than the heavy and wet kind- making it easier to shovel. On top of the 18+ inches of snow, we had some hefty winds causing a few snow drifts. Portland actually set a new record for 31.8” of snowfall!

 

Here are a few pictures of what we were dealing with…

Photo Feb 09, 2 02 18 PM

Packin’ up the truck to head to town to clean up some driveways!

Photo Feb 08, 1 16 12 PM

Those two dark spots in the middle of the yard are pieces of grass Dad dug up while plowing…

Photo Feb 09, 2 02 07 PM

Look at the snow drifts on the roof! YIKES!

Look at the snow drifts on the roof! YIKES!

Photo Feb 09, 5 21 29 PM

After an afternoon of shoveling, plowing, and snow blowing… we were still in good spirits!

 

There is one thing about living in the Northeast… we don’t have a problem being physically active in the winter- assuming that we get a couple of snow storms every now and then. You can burn over 300 calories shoveling snow for one hour. Obviously that depends on your weight and the type of snow, but hey, at least you’re moving! Then once you get your yard cleaned up, you get to go skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and have epic snowball fights! Stay tuned for those pictures.

 

There are many great things about living in the Northeast, but the snow is one of my top reasons why I love living in Maine. Granted, when I’m exhausted from shoveling I don’t feel this way, but when all the shoveling is done, you have to admit, there is nothing more beautiful than the scenery after a fresh snowfall.

View from the patio door.

View from the patio door.

 

How do you stay physically active during the winter?