Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Over It.

Winter, that is.

I am all for the four seasons - spring, summer, fall and winter. I live in an area where we have those four distinct seasons and usually each one only sticks around for about 3 months.

But this year, Winter will not leave!

It is getting a little ridiculous when there is still snow on the ground and the forecast shows snow all week at the end of March.

Plus I am tired of putting on layer after layer of clothes just to go outside and run.  I am ready to pack away my spandex and under armour tops, my winter running jacket and my neck warmer.  Bring out the capris and long sleeves, please!

This is me before heading out for my Saturday long run.  The sun was shining but the temperature was only 25F. I was not thrilled by the weather.

The long run actually turned out pretty good. I planned a semi-new route that took me on some of my favorite roads and by the end of the run the sun was shining brightly in a clear blue sky.  This was my first solo 12+ mile run in a  long time and I just enjoyed taking in the sights as I ran.

Even though it was beautiful out, I am over this winter. I am so ready for spring.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

6 ways to make Oatmeal great

I haven't always been an oatmeal lover, especially not the homemade kind.

Growing up, I often would eat the instant oatmeal and I still stock it in my pantry in case I need a super quick breakfast.  I know its full of sugar but it tastes so good and let's be honest, its better than not eating anything.

In fact, I often eat the instant oatmeal for breakfast before my long runs and races.  I ate it before my marathon too. It just works for me to eat that before running and has really never caused any issues.

But I do try to eat homemade oatmeal during the week because I know it is better for me and it does keep me fuller, longer.  But just plain oatmeal is gross.

Here's a few ways I have tried to spice up my morning oatmeal - 

Use milk instead of water

Most oatmeal recipes call for a 1:2 ratio for oats to liquid and I usually do 1/2 cup of oats to 1 cup of liquid.  I have found that using even 1/2 cup of coconut or almond milk with 1/2 cup of water makes the oatmeal taste creamier.  I prefer almond of coconut milk because I can't always handle dairy, especially after a morning run.

Add a little Brown sugar to the top (and bottom)

My favorite instant oatmeal is the maple brown sugar variety so trying to make the homemade stuff exactly like that was my goal.  I added brown sugar to the bottom of the bowl and then poured in the oatmeal followed by another sprinkle of brown sugar.

Mix with Peanut Butter

Adding a dollop of peanut butter to my oatmeal has become one of my favorite ways to enjoy it. The peanut butter melts from the hot oatmeal and gets all creamy and gooey.  This is a perfect way to mask the oat taste.

Mix with chocolate

This didn't exactly turn out how I wanted because I only had cocoa powder in the house but mixing a little chocolate into oatmeal is another great way to mask the oat taste and have some chocolate too.

Top with Pumpkin Butter

When I made my first batch of Pumpkin butter back in the fall, I put it on everything! Muffins, toast, and of course oatmeal. This is one of my favorite ways to eat oatmeal.  The pumpkin taste goes so well with the oats and I usually devour the oatmeal.

Add bananas (and other fruit)

I have found many different ways to add bananas into my oatmeal. At first I would saute up the bananas on the stove while cooking my oatmeal and then top my oatmeal with the bananas.  Frying the bananas made them very sweet so I didn't need to add any sugar.  But this is slightly time consuming and it does dirty another dish so I started putting the banana into the oatmeal about half way through.  The banana wasn't mushy from being cooked in the oatmeal and added a lot of flavor.  To get more fruits, I sometimes top my oatmeal with blueberries too.

Here is my recipe for oatmeal -

1/2 cup rolled or old fashioned oats
1 cup milk (any kind)
1 banana, sliced
Toppings - cinnamon, PB, fruits, etc

Add milk and oats together into a pan and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat and stir occasionally so it doesn't burn the bottom and doesn't boil over.  Cook for 10 minutes or until oatmeal is desired consistency.  Add sliced banana half way through or wait until the end - its good either way.

If you are crunched for time, take 1/2 cup oats and 1/2 milk and mix together in a microwave safe bowl.  Add sliced banana and mix together. Then pop it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, stopping and stirring half way through.  Once it is finished cooking, add toppings and enjoy.  Same great oatmeal but way faster!

How do you like your oatmeal??

Monday, March 11, 2013

5am feels like 4am

Daylight Savings took effect over the weekend and I feel like my whole week is going to be off until I get adjusted.

For the first few days when we change the clocks, I always think about the old time.

The first morning back to work especially.  Because when my alarm goes off at 5am, my brain instantly thinks -

"It is really 4am."

And I know a few of you do get up at 4am (or earlier) but for me there is just something about getting up at a time with a 4:xx in first number.  A 5:00am wake up just seems much easier than 4:59am even though its only one minute.

Even though the clock didn't actually say 4:00am on it, my body felt like it was 4am and it was difficult to get myself in gear and out the door on my run.  The one thing driving me to run was that the temperature was 54F! I put on my capris and long sleeve shirt and headed out the door for my run.

54F at 5am hasn't been seen in months and my planned 6 mile run turned into 7 miles.  I just didn't want the run to end because a) it was so nice out and b) that meant I would have to go to work.

This mornings run reminded me how much I enjoy summer running. 
How much I enjoy not having to put on 13 layers to go run.
How much I enjoy not wearing gloves. 
How much I enjoy not seeing my frozen breath in the beam of my headlamp.

I think I am ready for spring time and warmer weather for sure. I enjoyed winter while it lasted but it has over stayed it welcome.  Time for spring!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Hot Tea or Cold Water?

While I am at work, I am constantly cold.  I often wear two layers to work - a long sleeve and a sweater but still end up being cold (even in the summer). On most days, by mid morning I usually put on another fleece jacket I keep at my desk just to stay warm.

After weeks and weeks of this, I figured out that drinking super cold water was not helping to keep me warm. Every time I started to feel cold, I began to fill my water bottle with hot water from the cafeteria instead of cold and popped a tea bag into my bottle.

It worked like a charm and suddenly I wasn't always freezing at my desk daily.  But it made me start thinking, was drinking tea just as good as drinking water?

After doing some super quick research (thanks google) I found a little study that said that drinking tea was actually better than drinking water.

Drinking water is replacing fluid in the body and drinking tea is replacing fluid and contains antioxidants. Seems like a pretty good deal and I think adding in a few cups of tea a day isn't a bad idea.  Plus adding in a few cups of tea can help by reducing your risk of heart attack along with a few other benefits.

I still drink my coffee in the morning with breakfast but I think adding in a few cups of tea can't hurt.

What do you think? Hot Tea or Cold Water??

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Detoxing from Birthday Cake

Sunday was my birthday but it seems like I have been celebrating and eating cake since last week. 

 And now I feel like I can't look at any more sweets for a while. Which is so unlike me (since I love all things desserts) so you know I must have really over done it and had too much cake.

To celebrate my birthday, Brian and I drove to visit my aunt and uncle.  Because we were visiting them I didn't run for two days - Saturday or Sunday.  It has been a very long time since I have taken back to back rest days. 

It has been since September 29th. 2012.

But I knew my body needed a rest and I actually really enjoyed the weekend and didn't miss running too much.  Instead of running, Brian and I went skiing Saturday morning at a local ski resort. I have been skiing since I was little and Brian snowboards. 

The skiing was amazing at the top of the mountain - the trees were covered in snow and everything looked so beautiful.  At the bottom of the hill, the snow was crusty and icy and not so good so we tried to stay near the top as much as possible and chose slopes that weren't over used. 

It was a perfect way to spend the day and I was so glad we got the chance to go together.  One of the best parts was riding the six passenger chair lift from the bottom of the mountain to the top! 

After skiing, we celebrated my birthday with dinner out with my family and then drove home Sunday.  I spent most of the day laying on the couch and doing absolutely nothing. It was glorious. Since Sunday was my actual birthday we went out to dinner again since I had no desire to cook.  It was a lot of food and by Monday all I wanted was to eat healthy vegetables.

This weekend we will continue to celebrate with Brian's family.  I am not the only March birthday - in total between Brian and my family, there are 10 birthdays in March.  Let the celebrating continue but I think I may skip the cake!