Couch to 5K

Let me let you in on a little secret that’s not so secret: I hate to exercise.  I’ve hated it since elementary school when I hated my PE teacher and having to “run” the mile in gym class (I put that in quotes because I rarely, if ever, actually ran the mile).  Let’s face it, I’m just not very athletic.  More of a bookish, writer, has fun spending time researching stuff in the library type.  That’s not to say I hate physical activity of any kind.  I enjoy walking the dog on sunny days and if I’m in the mood hiking in a beautiful forest is a lovely way to pass the time.  I love to dance (ballet, Zumba, ballroom, etc.).  Swimming is enjoyable and I’m pretty sure I would have fun kickboxing or learning some sort of martial art.  However, I rarely make room in my time or my finances to do these sorts of things because they just don’t rank very high on my priority list.

Now, here’s another exciting little tidbit: I hate running more than any other kind of exercise.  I’ve tried to like it, I really have.  It’s free and you can listen to music while you do it, so it seems like it would be great.  I see people in Washington going running in the rain all the time.  I bought an iPod shuffle a couple of years ago specifically to use when running (I got tired of catcalls from random motorist…guys).  Every time I start though I spend the whole time thinking, “how much longer” and eventually I just stop.

So…why would I try again?

Well, for one thing, I’ve always wanted to participate in a 5K run/jog/walk type event.  It just seems like something that everyone should do at some point in their life, don’t ask me why.  Also, because I still really want to like running.  What can I say, I’m a masochist.  So my plan to get in shape this year is basically a build up to participate in a 5K.

I’m starting off slowly at home, doing step workouts, Jillian Michaels, yoga, etc. and then I’m going to slowly incorporate Zumba, kickboxing, and anything else I might fancy.  Then, in April I’m going to start the Couch to 5K program so I can get into full on running mode.  I’m hoping to be in good enough shape by June 15 that I won’t totally embarrass myself.  Because…

I signed up for my very first 5K!  It’s the Stampede Over Stigma 5K, which is helping to “break down mental health stigma; all while raising money for numerous behavioral health organizations!”  Not only that but I’m being backed by the Bramble Berry Athletic Club!  (That picture isn’t embarrassing at all… it was taken right before I helped break the world record for the largest snowball fight!).

So if you’re a fellow exercise hater who is trying to get in shape, I just want you to know that I’m fighting the good fight with you, and that you don’t have to love exercise to love the benefits!


Italy: Hiking in San Brigida

Yesterday we went for a hike in a nature preserve in San Brigida. It was definitely not a hike for the faint of heart and I was glad to have had all these weeks of walking in Firenze for a semi-preparation because otherwise I might not have made it. We hiked a total of around 5mi in 3.5 hours (not counting our short break at the Santuario Madonna Delle Grazie Al Sasso to eat). It was so nice to be out of the city for a while. It was so peaceful and quiet there. Even though the hiking was tough, it was well worth it and I felt really good afterwards — I’ve even started to think about taking it up when I get back to the states.


There are a few of these on the way up to the sanctuary, each one commemorating a vision of the Madonna.





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The Madonna of the Rock Sanctuary











We found three of these butter houses.








San Brigida


I’m not sure what town this is but we changed buses here. It was pretty adorable.


Salad in a Jar & Oatmeal Smoothies

Though I’ve tried to ensure that most of the recipes on this blog are healthy (well, except for the desserts…), I’ve never written a post specifically about that, or chosen a recipe based off of its healthfulness.  The method to my madness thus far has been to choose whatever recipes look most delicious to me on the day that I do the grocery shopping.  That is about to change, at least slightly.  I am not on a diet, but I am attempting to become more health conscious, and especially to exercise more.

I honestly don’t really believe that anyone needs to be on a diet to lose weight, or that you necessarily need to completely eliminate any particular foods or food groups from your diet in order to be healthy (barring the possibility you have a food allergy, are gluten or lactose intolerant, etc.).  Some will disagree with me, and certainly I only have a single nutrition class and some books under my belt, so I am by no means an expert, this is just my own personal philosophy.

What I think is the key to success, is moderation.  I myself have difficulty with the practice of this concept, because I tend to be more “all or nothing” by nature.  But my most successful diet changes have always been about moderation, except perhaps the elimination of soda from my diet in the 8th grade.  The changes I am about to embark on are not really anything new in my life, I’ve done all of them before with great success.  My problem has always been falling off the wagon and languishing by the side of the road for months (sometimes years), rather than a problem with the way that I choose to eat when I am actively being healthy.

So all I am doing now is vowing not to fall off the wagon again, or at least to dust myself off and jump back on again as soon as possible if I do.  With the following I managed to lose 17lbs in 2 months in 2010:

  • No dessert items.
  • Eat 4 meals per day, nothing after 7pm.
  • At least 32oz of water per day.
  • No meat other than eggs and fish.
  • Exercise at least 45min per day/4 days per week.
  • Godiva Day is a splurge day (as are holidays/birthdays).

That simple.  I have made a few changes this time around:

  • 4 splurges per month (so I can participate in some work things & not feel guilty if I really do need that cream puff).
  • At least 64oz of water/tea per day.
  • Severely limit dairy & gluten intake to only one serving of either per day.
  • My 3 recipes per week are exempt from the dairy/meat/gluten rules (because it’s important to me that I learn how to cook/bake everything) but I need to be careful with portion size if it contains these three.
  • Exercise every day.

Now, I’m sure that anyone can argue that these rules are either too stringent or not stringent enough depending on their own personal health beliefs, but they are what works for me and I’m happy with them, which is all that really matters.  With that in mind, I present you with the first two recipes of this week, both found on pinterest.

(1) Salad in a Jar

This is the best thing I’ve ever found for taking lunch to work.  It’s super simple to make, not particularly expensive, you can create enough for the whole week on Sunday and just grab them and go from the fridge in the morning.  Awesome.  The only things I would change the next time I make them (and there will be a next time), is to swap the tomatoes out for bell peppers, add raisins, and put a touch more dressing in.  The pin comes from Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body and I have some layer by layer photos for you here:

(2) Oatmeal Smoothie

Another pinterest find.  I never would have thought to put oatmeal in a smoothie before, but it added substance that helped keep me full for most of the day.  It was totally delicious.  I changed a few things here: instead of raspberries I used frozen strawberries and peaches, instead of low fat plain yogurt I used 1/2 plain Greek yogurt (for protein) and 1/2 vanilla coconut yogurt, I added some Barlean’s Omega Swirl Flax Oil, and I used way more than just 1 cup coconut water — I used the entire can in the picture which is 17.5oz.  The original pin comes from Martha Stewart, so you know it’s good.

Oh wait… those aren’t a part of the smoothie recipe.  But they’re so important to my mental state each day.  I constantly buy myself flowers for the kitchen so I have something pretty to look at every morning before I leave the house.  You might have noticed them in the background of some other food pictures — these ones seem particularly happy looking to me.

And this isn’t the smoothie either… this is just the salted avocado I ate while I was making it…

Ah!  Here we go: