New Year, New Goals, Same Me

The holidays are in full-swing, and that means the New Year is upon us. It’s hard to believe that 2014 is right around the corner—it seems like just a few months ago we were ringing in 2013. January 1 brings on a lot of different emotions. A bit of sadness that the holiday season is officially over and the long winter is ahead of us. A lot of hope in what the New Year will bring. A reflection and maybe a disappointment in what 2013 didn’t give to us (or rather, what we didn’t give to it).

This year was wonderful, and I’m hoping next year will be an eventful, happy and fun 12 months. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to strive to be even better in 2014. I saw this thought-provoking graphic on my friend’s Pinterest board and thought I’d use it to frame some of my goals. Join me in setting some fun expectations for the New Year.

Source: Pinterest
Source: Pinterest

A bad habit I’m going to break: Worrying. I’m a worry wart, always have been, but this is the year that I’m truly going to work on letting go of things I can’t control—therefore opening myself up to more happiness.

A new skill I’d like to learn: I’m going to learn how to roast a chicken. I’ve refined my cooking skills this year, but in my eyes, you’re not quite domestic unless you’ve learned how to cook a bird properly.

A person I hope to be more like: My sister. She knows how to let things roll off her back, live in the moment and be a loving, forgiving person.

A good deed I’m going to do: I’m going to continue doing work for an art therapy program in my spare time.

A place I’d like to visit: I always say I want to visit somewhere I’ve never been before. I’m planning to go to Vegas in February, for the first time, and hope to go to the beach with my guy sometime in the summer or fall.

A book I’d like to read: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. I’ve heard so much about it, and I’ve already started reading it and can’t put it down. I also want to read Born to Run and finish the Hunger Game series. In general, I just want to read more.

A letter I’m going to write: This is a hard one. I don’t write many letters anymore, so maybe I’ll be a romantic and write a love letter at some point. It’s a lost art.

A new food I’d like to try: I’m just getting into eating fish for the first time, and would love to keep expanding my palette.

I’m going to do better at: Not some much “do better,” but I’d really like to keep this blog going strong. It brings me so much joy. Sometimes fun hobbies can fall to the wayside, but I’m going to do my best to dedicate myself to this.

Happy holidays everyone! Cheers to a great 2014!

8 Steps to Keeping the Holiday Jiggle Away

This post is brought to you by my sister, the soon-to-be dietitian. She’s about to graduate from Ohio University in May, and even in her first semester as a freshman, taught me more about food than any health magazine or website has. I asked her to guest blog and give her advice for keeping the pounds off during the holidays. My goal is always to maintain my weight, because trying to lose pounds would just be too stressful. Let’s leave that for a New Year’s resolution.

Speaking of New Year’s resolutions, I have a fun post coming up about organizing your goals in a new way. Until then, enjoy!

From my sister to you:

My sister is official, folks
My sister is official, folks

Santa may be cute with his big jolly belly, but not everyone can pull that look off. Here are a few tips to keep the extra pounds at bay this holiday season without having to duck tape your mouth shut (ouch).

  1. If you’re attending a holiday gathering and don’t know if there will be healthy options, offer to bring something like a tossed salad or a vegetable. That way, you know there will be something to fall back on. Once it’s time for dinner, fill half of your plate with vegetables.
  2. If you have the choice, grab a smaller plate to put your meal on, and try to stick to only one plateful of food. This will make you less likely to overeat, because you won’t feel obligated to finish what’s left on your plate after you’re actually full.
  3. Alcohol is a likely culprit for holiday season weight gain because it cannot be used by your body for energy; it is metabolized straight into fat. A few drinks can also lead to a late night snacking. To cut back on alcohol intake, try alternating an alcoholic beverage with a glass of water. Or even better, offer to be the designated driver for your friends or family. They will appreciate it and so will your body!
  4. EAT BREAKFAST. Fasting all day because you know there will be a big meal later on is a bad idea. You will only end up eating more. Start your day with a healthy and filling protein like oatmeal or a veggie omelet.
  5. Along with a healthy breakfast, start your day with a cardio workout. Squeezing in your workout before the festivities gives you less time for excuses, and will burn a few extra calories before the celebrations begin. Let’s face it; it’s easier to stay on track when you’ve started your day right.
  6. Instead of an apple pie, try this healthy apple crisp. You’ll be able to enjoy dessert without feeling guilty.
  7. Use your resources. Try logging your intake and exercise on MyFitnesspal or Supertracker via your computer or smartphone. That will make it much easier for you to hold yourself accountable for what you’re eating and how much you’re moving. And when filling your plate at Christmas dinner, don’t forget to keep MyPlate in mind:
Source: choosemyplate.gov
Source: choosemyplate.gov

Remember to focus on what matters most this holiday season. If you busy yourself spending time with your loved ones and enjoying your time off from school or work, you won’t even need that extra slice of pumpkin pie.

What are your tips to staying on track during the holidays?

Cold-Weather Running Tips

Hi everyone! It’s officially two weeks until Christmas Eve. Typing that just sent me into a sheer panic. I’ve got to get going on my shopping!

As does every December, this month is already flying by. This week alone is packed with a holiday party, a Santa Shuffle and an annual cookie baking date with one of my friends (stay tuned for more recipes!). I’m trying my absolute hardest to stay on schedule with workouts and maintain control of my diet, but sometimes sitting on the couch eating gingerbread cookies is just more appealing than a work out. It’s this time of year that’s the hardest for me to stay motivated, but I refuse to start the new year feeling bloated and disappointed in myself.

One way I keep myself on track throughout the holidays, and the long, dreary winter ahead, is of course running. Outside. In the cold. And snow. No matter what. I started doing this a few years ago when my marathon training started in early January and found that winter was the first in which I didn’t go through a seasonal depression of sorts. So although there are exceptions, I really do make an effort to continue outdoor runs through the winter. A dedicated running buddy helps too.

My shoes decked with jingle bells after the Reindeer Run in Lakewood this past Saturday
My shoes decked with jingle bells after the Reindeer Run in Lakewood this past Saturday

But running outside in January is very different than a July run. Both are challenging, but I find cold-weather runs require the most planning and thought. Here are a few tips I’ve learned in the past few years for a successful winter run. If you’ve never done it, I dare you to try it once. I bet you’ll be glad you did.

Bundle up, but not too much.
When it’s very cold outside (under 35 degrees), I make sure I wear an Under Armour long-sleeved shirt and leggings, gloves, earmuffs, long socks (potentially two layers) and an over jacket that can zip up to my chin. But that’s really it. I’ve made the mistake of scarves, hats and additional layers of clothing, and I quickly learned that just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you won’t overheat. It’s always good to more prepared than less, but be ready to take a layer off and leave it behind.

Don’t get wet.
Getting wet is the kiss of death for me when I run. One step in a deep puddle or splash from a car, and I can end up blistered and chaffed by the end. The type of weather that keeps me inside on a treadmill is when the snow starts melting and there is standing water in the streets, not when it’s too cold or snowy. Avoid puddles at all costs. However, just in case you get your feet wet, I recommend putting Vaseline on your feet and in between your toes before a run. Sounds weird, but trust me, it avoids friction!

Stay hydrated.
Even though you may not immediately get the extreme thirst that comes from a hot and humid summer run, know you still need to stay hydrated and properly fuel your body throughout your run. Be sure you have water close by, and in the event of an emergency, eat some snow! I’ve done it, and it’s never hurt me. Just a tip: Avoid any yellow patches.

Warm up.
When you’re done with your run, be sure to warm up, but not by hopping into a hot shower—that can send your body into shock. I usually change out of my running clothes and put dry ones on while sipping something hot (Usually coffee. Is there any other hot beverage that’s worth drinking? But that’s another post for another time…). Then, within the hour, I’ll take a warm shower. Just avoid the temptation to crank up the temperature.

So this winter, join me in avoiding the blues or feeling like a blimp after the holidays with some outside runs. Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean the sun isn’t out—take advantage and get some vitamin D. And then come home and eat a Christmas cookie.

How do you avoid the winter blues?

Cupcakes & Pie: Two Crowd-Pleasing Recipes

Hello, and happy Wednesday! We’ve officially made it halfway through our week back after the holiday. How was your Thanksgiving? Mine was wonderful, and I’m so excited for the season now. Between decorating, attending Christmas parties (I’m also hosting one later this month!), seeing Christmas lights, baking cookies, spending time with family, sled riding—there’s a lot of fun on my to-do list. I can’t wait.

With all the get-togethers approaching, it’s always nice to bring something homemade. I wanted to share two recipes with you today—one is a quick and easy recipe that was a HUGE hit at our Friendsgiving last week and the other is an amazing dark chocolate pecan bourbon pie I brought to our two Thanksgiving dinners. Get your ingredients ready, and let’s do some baking!

IMG_20131125_220041

If you have less than an hour, make these cupcakes.

Pre-frosting
Pre-frosting

These pumpkin cupcakes are so simple, I almost feel foolish sharing the recipe. But after I heard such rave reviews last week, I knew I had to! They’re great to make if you’re in a pinch or looking to bring a fun dessert without slaving over the oven. It’s loosely based on the Weight Watchers cupcakes I shared a while back, but punched up with some not-so-waistline friendly add-ins (but it’s the holidays, so ’tis the season!).

Ingredients:

  • One box of spice cake mix
  • One 15 oz. can of pumpkin
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • Cream cheese frosting
  • Cinnamon for dusting

Combine the cake mix with the can of pumpkin. Fold in the chocolate chips and bake according to the directions on the box. Top with homemade or store bought cream cheese frosting and dust with cinnamon for a pretty topping.

If you have a couple hours, make this chocolate pecan bourbon pie.

IMG_20131127_232732

I cannot take credit for this recipe—it’s from one of my absolute favorite blogs Eat Live Run. I made two of these the night before Thanksgiving, and these were simply amazing. So rich, you only need a sliver, but add a dollop of whipped cream on top, and you look like the next Martha Stewart. Plus, it’s just a pretty pie. Take some time to impress your boyfriend’s family or your friends this season with this one, folks!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 ½ cups pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup bourbon
  • 2 tbsp melted, unsalted butter
  • 1 thawed pie crust (I used store bought, but for the ambitious, you can make your own)

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9″ pie tin with nonstick spray. Drape your pie crust into your tin. Crimp the edges of the dough with your fingers and remove any extra dough. Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork.

Scatter the roughly chopped pecans and semisweet chocolate chips over the bottom of the pie dough.

In a small pot over medium heat, combine corn syrup, brown sugar and bourbon. Bring to a boil, stir well, then remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Here’s the slightly tricky part that may require help from someone: In a bowl, mix together the eggs, melted butter, vanilla and salt. SLOWLY drizzle hot syrup into the eggs, stirring continuously with a whisk while you drizzle. Go slow, or you risk cooking the eggs. Continue drizzling and whisking until all the syrup has been poured in. Pour over the pecans and chocolate in the pie.

Place pie in the oven and bake for 1 hour. Top should be puffy and crust should be golden. Let cool for 1 hour before serving.

I hope you enjoy these recipes. But don’t worry! To balance all this sugar out, I’ll be posting more about workouts and my sister will be guest blogging about how not to gain any jiggle this holiday season. Stay tuned!

Until then … happy baking!