Obvious S#@! You Already Know, Backed Up by Winter Running

#1. Take Baby Steps
Okay yes, duh: it’s logic. Start small and work towards bigger challenges. You don’t want to sign up for a 10K this coming weekend if you don’t feel confident about running around the block.  Winter running, also incorporates this literally, take small steps, actual baby ones.

The Cult of Running(tm) is filled with sleek, gazelle-like individuals who glide along pavement like it’s a conveyer belt and have calves of granite. I am not a member, but I know that even THEY have to slow down in the winter because it’s dangerous. On the snowiest, iciest days, I’m afraid a wider stride will send me crashing down to the ice, even in cleats.

So from the terror began the habit trotting along, and shortening my stride has helped me un-hunch my shoulders, improved my running posture, and helped me power through hills… which is a pretty dope tie in to the metaphor. Baby steps will get you up the mountain (and keep you from breaking any bones).

#2. Overprepare
Duh: it’s better to have too much ready to go than too little. Slightly less obvious? Trying to dress appropriately for a winter run is a complex math problem:

If it is -14 C outside but it is -22 with the windchill, blowing snow, and a sunny glare, but the body heats up 10 degrees on average during a run, how many layers of clothing should you put on for a 6 kilometre jaunt in order to keep your fingers and toes?

If I had taken up running earlier in high school I might have been less afraid of math after grappling with all of that BS. The answer is, layer up. Just be prepared for it to be COLD and if you’re too warm you can yank stuff off and carry it as you go. Overprepare!

#3. Hard Work Pays Off
Triple duh: running in snow can suck,  it’s like running in cold sand with the potential for an icy surprise at the center to send you sprawling across the pavement. It’s hard work, because it’s hard to get anywhere fast when you’re basically running on the bitterness of Canada’s natural treadmill.

But there’s an upside—what doesn’t shatter your bones or give you frostbite makes you stronger! There will come a day when the snow will melt. I know, it seems unending, and every time the sun dares to peek out, another foot of the white stuff feels likely to drop from on high…But it end. For the first time in weeks, the sidewalks here have been clear and moving from running in winter sand hell to straight pavement felt….almost….easy. The big e!

Now it’s not gonna feel like pixie dust forever, but there will be a few honeymoon runs where the sole hits nothing but the pavement and it’s such a confidence boost because of all the strength you got while slugging it out in the slush has come back to let you power on at full strength.

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Peanut Butter and Date Overnight Oats

A little late for Valentines day, but get your love on with some dates!

This recipe is chewy, sweet, creamy, peanut-buttery and filling. With your morning cup of coffee, tea, or water, it’s a healthy, but indulgent way to fuel up. At 500 cals it might be a little spendy, but it’s the first meal of the day—so make room, people! #WorthIt.

Peanut Butter & Date Overnight Oats
Serves 1

1/2 c. soy milk (or milk of choice)
3 tbsp. plain full fat yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 c. steel cut oats
1/4 c. chopped, pitted dates
1/2 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. all natural peanut butter
1 tbsp. chia seeds

1. Combine soy, yogurt, and vanilla in your container of choice! (Jar, bowl…whatever…)
2. Stir in oats, dates, and peanut butter, making sure everything is evenly distributed
3. Taste–if you want more sweetness, add the maple syrup (if not, -25 cals!)
4. Stir in chia seeds, cover container, and put in fridge overnight.
5. Enjoy!

Winter’s Bounty

Sometimes, you have to be excited about salad.

Sometimes you have to be excited about pictures of that salad, and make a blog post to show more than one.

This salad, Allison Day’s Winter Chopped Salad, is just that good, okay?

I think I finally understand arugula.

Seeing Other People

Maybe it’s been a week or a month—you’re in an exciting and committed relationship with your new healthy lifestyle. You meal plan, you work up a sweat on the reg, and you’re feeling good—maybe great! You can spend all day satisfied—your morning smoothie, your sensible lunch, your evening gym session are all blossoming into something more serious.

Then, the Other People show up.

While you have been cloistered away in your health and fitness, the world has been turning, and it wants you back. Whether it’s a friend’s birthday, a brunch invitation, or visitors from out of town who want to be shown a good time, one weekend of indulgence can change your loving and committed relationship status straight to “it’s complicated.”

There are buckets of health and fitness articles on the subject of getting back on the wagon and handling these issues and missteps: most of them are summarized in ‘don’t beat yourself up’ and ‘eat something green’ and ‘the second slice of cake does not double back and cancel out the first.’ (Ugh, I wish.)

What none of the articles seem to address is how paralyzing these situations can be. No only can it be hard to be in the middle of them and make choices (will everyone judge me if I try to pass on the nachos?!) but the after-party of them SUCK: greasy leftovers in the fridge (eat?! toss!?), heavy weigh-ins from salty water weight, and general self doubt.

Since I started trying to actively make changes to my lifestyle, I’ve had every scenario from above—birthday, brunch, visitors, and it’s not they’re confusing.

To totally mix metaphors, it’s like if my healthy lifestyle was a horse, after the weekend I wouldn’t be climbing back on, or  even chasing it around the field, I would dumbly be staring at it, trying to remember what a horse looked like. As though my sudden flirtation with the old lifestyle made me forget how to canter with the new one.

Also kinda feels like going back to how it was before seems impossible, and yet moving forward, back into the arms of the new lifestyle seems desperately out of reach. You wonder how all your work can be so easily undone. That leads to more paralysis as you ponder everything you eat, everything you do, and how it weighs in as a relationship “do” or “don’t.”

Maybe I’m the only one going through this. Last weekend was pretty rich in terms of food stuff, so the only thing I can vouch for right now is to try and re-ignite the romance. I had to spend some loving face time with my new SO. How do you bring the fire back into an “it’s complicated?” You can try a new food or recipe, (I’m telling you, stop second guessing and eat SOMETHING, I promise it won’t hurt), a new fitness video, or even take time to set out small goals or a plan for the next time company comes around to party.

Good relationships, after all, come with a little built-in space—and sometimes, that space is going to be jammed with poutine and beer.

Meal Prep and Momentum

Confession: I love telling stories and I love cooking, but I never read the prose part of recipes posts on food blogs… So I’ll keep this short. This weekend, I started a new fitness Instagram (#fitstagram?) to keep me motivated. (Follow me at @rilesrunswild!) This morning I woke up, geared to cook lunches and dinners for the week, so I did. This afternoon, I went for a good Couch to 5K run. I’m feeling pretty good, and I’m hoping this momentum lasts!

Butternut Squash & Black Bean Enchiladas – 320 cals per serving
Serves 3-4 (how hungry are you?)


Enchiladas

1 tbsp olive oil
3 cups butternut squash, cubed
1 1/2 cups black beans
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
9 small corn tortillas
1/2 cup old cheddar cheese (optional)

1 cup of Red Enchilada Sauce (adapted from Budget Bytes)
2 tbsp canola oil 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp chili powder
2 cups water
4 oz. tomato paste
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

Directions:
1.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Toss cubed butternut squash in olive oil, salt and pepper. Put into over to roast until fork tender, 15-20 minutes.

2. Get saucy! Combine canola oil, flour and chili powder in medium saucepan. Whisk until combined and bubbling over medium heat, about 1 minute.

3. Add water, tomato paste, cumin, and garlic powder to the saucepan. Whisk and bring to a simmer, letting it thicken as it heats. Stir in salt to your desired taste.

4. Sautee onions and garlic in a saucepan until fragrant. (Lazy tip: I emptied the sauce into a measuring cup and used the same saucepan.) Add black beans, a few spoonfuls of sauce and stir to combine, gently heating until warmed through.

5. Remove the squash from the oven and stir into black bean mixture. Reduce heat to 350 F.  Warm up your tortillas in the oven for a minute to increase pliability.

6. Spoon enchilada sauce into the bottom of a baking dish (9×13 or 9×9, use whatever you’ve got). Now assemble the enchiladas. Spoon some squash and bean filling into each tortilla. Roll up as snugly as possible and place seam side down in the pan.

7. Complete with the rest of your tortillas, and snuggle them into the pan together.(You may have some filling leftover. Lucky you, it’s delicious by itself!) Add the rest of the enchilada sauce over top, smoothing it into cover the tortillas.

8. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with cheese and return to oven for five minutes until melted. Serve with your favourite toppings: red onion, avocado, salsa, sour cream…the possibilities are endless!

Lentil & Mushroom Stroganoff feat. Cauliflower Potato mash with fresh Spinach – 350 cals per serving
Serves 4

Stroganoff
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp olive oil
4 cups (340g) mushrooms, diced
2 cups brown lentils, cooked
1/2 – 1 cup vegetable stock
1 garlic pickle, chopped
1/2-3/4 cup greek yogurt or sour cream
2 cups fresh spinach

Mash
1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into large florets
2 medium red potatoes, chopped
Salt to taste
1/4 cup soy milk (or milk of your choice)
Butter (if desired)

Directions:
1. Prep the mash. Put cauliflower and potatoes into a pot of water and bring to a boil. Salt the water and boil the vegetables until fork tender. Drain and then mash, adding milk, salt and butter to desired consistency and taste. Set aside.

2.  Add olive, garlic and onions to a large saucepan. Cook until fragrant. Add mushrooms and cook on medium heat until most fluids have been released and mushrooms are brown and cooked down.

3. Add lentils to mixture. Stir to combine, then add vegetable stock and simmer to desired consistency. Stir in chopped pickle.

4. Allow to cool slightly and then stir in yogurt or sour cream. (it’s okay if it “breaks”, it will still be tasty!)

5. To serve, line the bottom of a bowl with 1/2 cup fresh spinach, top with 1 cup mash, and then 1 cup of mushroom and lentil mixture.

The Bank of Effort

We’re all pretty hard on ourselves.

Today I realized that I’m not just hard on myself, I’m a total asshole to myself.

“Because I’m fat” is one of my brain’s favourite suffixes. I constantly and frequently belittle myself based on nothing other than my size. I project the scorn I’ve got for myself into what I think other people see when they look at me. It is fucking crazy and I know I’m not the only one doing it.

Here’s the thing, here’s my thing: if I want something, I put in the work for it in every other aspect of my life. I’ll save money for a new jacket, or I’ll research for knowledge I’m after, so I can learn how to do things.

Why is it so hard to apply this to my body? You want to run? Start running. You want to lose weight? Count your calories. Put the effort in the bank or stop whining! (…This is me again, talking to myself, I don’t want to yell or lecture you.)

I don’t know. I’m fed up with my brain. I need a new strategy.

Carried A-weigh

Been awhile since the last post, but that’s just because things have been a little busy, and the sturdy determination that I came back with from thanksgiving got a little bit hijacked by life. But, as I’m sitting here writing this, take it as a sign of good faith that I’m trying to take it back.

Around this time last year, I was dropping like a stone in water to a deeper depression than I had ever experienced before. I’m still on medication to stay balanced, but there are still lows—and low and anxious is kind of where I’ve been making my bed lately. It’s slightly horrifying just how much of my emotional stress is manifested in cravings for pizza. The recent election results literally had me wishing I could crawl into a calzone like a sleeping bag and hibernate for the next four years.

Image result for calzones gif

Basically current events, the sun setting sooner, and some biological stress-timer have made eating healthily and carefully difficult. I can feel myself scraping with futility up towards success, but it feels as though I’m losing the battle. So I’m counting calories again.

I’ve done it before, with success. When I was in highschool and made the choice to lose weight for the first time, calorie counting was the biggest tool in my arsenal. The worst of it was that I got obsessed with it. I would count and recount meals over and over, and it was probably mentally unhealthy. But now, as that was years and years ago, I can hope for the good sense to manage this without going over board.

Trying to keep things chill, under control, and not worry too much.

The good news is that I lost half a pound last week from being a number cruncher. Let’s hope this is a trend that keeps up!