Pesto Potato Salad

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I am definitely not a traditional potato salad kind of girl, but when I came across the recipe for one using pesto in one of my favorite cookbooks, Run Fast Eat Slow, I was intrigued! I have not tried their cashew pesto yet, but made my own version yesterday. The results did not disappoint! Here’s another simple take on an old classic. (And remember…I am not a measurer unless I’m baking so it’s all approximates and you can adjust to your own taste!)


For the Pesto:

2 cups fresh basil

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

3 cloves garlic (grated)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

juice from 1/2 lemon

1/2 cup pine nuts (or walnuts, etc)

sea salt/black pepper to taste

 

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until desired creaminess

 

For the Potatoes:

1-2 lbs. small red potatoes

sea salt

 

Wash potatoes and slice into halves or quarters (depending on size and preference)

Place cut potatoes in a large pot and fill will water to about an inch above potatoes

add about 2 tsp sea salt to the water

bring pot to a boil, then turn to medium/ low and simmer for about 15 minutes (you can make the pesto during this step!)

Test them with a fork to see if they’re soft enough, then drain in a colander, return to pot and after a few minutes toss with pesto. (You will have enough pesto left over to use for another day, or I had spread some on salmon that I baked to have with the potatoes for dinner) 

As I was making this my husband questioned whether it would really taste as good as I was anticipating. He regrets doubting me now! 

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Heather

Garlic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I know a lot of people aren’t a fan of these wonderful little cabbages, but I cannot get enough! Even back in the 80’s when they were just boiled and served, I loved them. But one of my absolute favorite veggies are roasted brussels sprouts. They’re ridiculously simple too! Not to mention believe it or not a good source of protein, fiber, and many other nutrients, including vitamin C! Here’s an quick and easy recipe.


1-2 lbs Brussels Sprouts (washed and halved)

about 2-3 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1-2 tsp Sea Salt

1-2 tsp Black Pepper

1-2 tsp Paprika (or whatever “red” spice I’m feeling that day-chili powder, etc)

1 large clove garlic (grated)

 

Preheat oven to 425

Place all ingredients in a large plastic storage bag and shake/press together

Empty the bag onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (does anyone else love those pre-cut sheets?)

Bake in oven for about 20 minutes. After 10 minutes turn sprouts to get that nice brown color on all sides.


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turn after 10 minutes to get all sides crispy and brown
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mix all ingredients together in a plastic storage bag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s it! They look and smell so good that my anti-sprout husband tries them just because he wants to like them so bad! I don’t mind not sharing these though, they are just too good.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Heather

Sun-dried Tomato Hummus

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Another week of meal prep is under my belt and I am really loving it! Last night I made hummus, like I have been each week but I tweaked a few things and decided to add some sun-dried tomatoes as well. It really kicked the flavor up and I think it is my new favorite! Hummus is so simple to make and I love that I can use organic ingredients and not worry about all the added preservatives. Here’s what I did:


Ingredients:

1 box organic Garbanzo beans (or can) 15-16oz

4 or 5 sundried tomatoes

1 large clove of garlic

1/4-1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I use organic)

1-2 TBSP Lemon juice (I squeeze half a lemon)

a pinch of sea salt

 

Method:

Drain and rinse Garbanzo beans

Using kitchen scissors, cut tomatoes into small pieces

Put beans, tomatoes and oil into food processor.

Grate garlic into processor

add lemon juice and salt

Blend/chop until desired smoothness. (I usually add more oil as needed)


 

That’s it! As part of my meal prep I then divide it into small containers for a quick snack with veggies at work. The rest I keep in the fridge to spread on sandwiches, or dip at home.

I have also used this recipe without the tomatoes if they aren’t your thing.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Heather

Sweet Potato Banana Protein Bites

So here we go! It’s a new year and I’m back. Not just to writing here, but the healthy, motivated me is back.

The new year is always a time to reset and reassess our goals, and the new year could not have come at a better time for me. December was a little rough…2 biopsies, my first ever case of the stomach flu, and a surgery. I missed a lot of work for medical reasons, and working out and eating right became nonexistent. Add in the holiday treats and it was a recipe for some dark times in my kitchen. And although it’s never about the scale for me, 10ish extra lbs. showed up there too. I just needed to get through the year, and now I’m ready to get back on track!

One of the main things I plan on doing this year is meal planning. I hope to share a lot of how I’m doing that here, but for today I’m just going to share one recipe I put together last night.

I was making sweet potato fries for the first time (so good!), and had some leftover potatoes since I am the only person who will eat those yummy orange spuds in my house. I have always wanted to try baking with them so it seemed like a good time to start! While my fries were in the oven, I wrapped  2 medium sweet potatoes in  foil and baked them at 375 for an hour. After dinner, they were ready to mash and I am so happy with the outcome of the recipe.

Realist Lifestyle had just sent me a sample of their ghost flavor protein powder, and I have been trying to come up with ways to add it into my food/shakes. This seemed like the perfect time to give it a try and I have to say it did not affect the taste or texture of the bites! Perfect option to give these an extra boost of protein.

 


Sweet Potato Banana Protein Bites

For 12 Mini bites:

Ingredients:

1 large (or 2 medium) Sweet Potatoes (baked)

1 Large Banana

1 Egg

2 TBSP Peanut Protein (optional)

2 TBSP Realist Ghost Protein Powder (optional)

1-2 TBSP Coconut Water (or water) to desired texture

handful dark chocolate chips (or whatever seeds, nuts, dried fruit you like)

Method:

Preheat oven to 375

Mash together baked sweet potato and banana with hand masher

Add egg, water, powders, and chocolate chips and stir until combined. img_5297

 

Spray a mini-muffin tin or line with wrappers

 

Drop spoonfuls of mixture into muffin pan

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Bake for 20-ish minutes

Enjoy! (Keep extras in air tight container)


That’s it! I mashed the potato right out of the oven so the batter was warm but it did not affect the outcome. If you try these, let me know what you think! I was hesitant about the texture from the banana but if you really mix it, the batter will be smooth.

(Like I’ve mentioned before I’m not a big measuring person when it comes to cooking. I go by what looks right, so these quantities are approximates and you can change the amount based on your own preference of texture and taste. The sweet potato is more than sweet enough even for me, but you can add sugar, honey or agave)

Happy Baking, and Happy New Year!

xo

Heather

 

Weekend recap: Philly and a half marathon

We spent last weekend in Philly and had an incredible time. The main reason we went this particular time was so I could run the 1/2 Sauer 1/2 Kraut half marathon for the second year in a row, but since we love the city decided to make it into a fun mini vacation  as well…similar to most of our race weekends.

On Friday after work Jeff and I signed Ava out a little early from school and then we picked up Nolan too. Since it was National Doughnut Day, we couldn’t start our trip without a yummy treat first!

 

Once we were all cleaned up we were on our way. Perfect timing for both kids to get a solid nap in before a busy weekend! The ride was easy and we checked into our hotel. I headed out for a quick run, as I have mentioned before I need to get up and move after longer car rides due to the risk of blood clots. A short 2 mile run helps put my mind at ease and stretch out after sitting for a while.

When I got back, Jeff headed out to run and by that time my parents and niece Rowan had made it to the hotel too. We all went out to dinner (pasta for me, of course) and then went back to get a good night’s sleep. My kids are like little hotel pros these days which makes the transition with traveling and sleeping away very easy. In the morning, we took the kids to my parent’s room and Jeff drove me to the start.

This half marathon is by far the most challenging I have ran so far. I had also ran it last year, so I knew what was coming. The strange thing for me this weekend was that I did not know I was 100% running this race until the weekend before. I was waiting on Jeff’s baseball schedule so did not even register until then. It made training slightly interesting, especially having just ran a half marathon only 2 weeks before. But I was excited to get back on that course!

I literally stood in line for the bathroom right up to the start of the race. It’s not a big event, about 600 runners. Since it is a German themed race, many runners were dressed in leiderhosen and other German outfits which sets the tone for a fun race!

I got to the start literally 15 seconds before we were off. The entire race is a trail, some paved, some not and the beginning is quite narrow. Once you get to the first mile, things start to thin out, and once again I somehow found myself spending the first half of the race completely alone. Usually I don’t mind that, but sometimes having other runners around can distract me from all of the huge hills.

One word I would not use to describe this course is flat. You are constantly climbing unless you are at the top of a hill, in which case you are going down a steep hill. There really isn’t a time when you have a break at the top. I find this to be the most challenging part. Not being able to catch my breath or recover a little before running down the hill is difficult for me. I am hoping to remember this and train a little for it next year. Add in the 90% humidity, and breathing was probably my biggest struggle of this race.

Around the halfway point we encountered Mount Cookoo. It is exactly as the name describes, nuts! A narrow, winding, somehow always uphill climb full of giant tree roots, rocks, and slippery mud. But I love it! I had actually forgotten just how long we were in that trail, but it is over a mile of some real tough conditions. There are a lot of horses in the park as well, so I’m sure you can imagine the smell is a little interesting and there quite a few flies!

Back onto the main path after Mount Cookoo you basically just repeat the hilly trail back to the finish, which was also the start. At this point I spent a few miles running with a young guy, which although we never said a word to each other, he kept me going and made me feel a little secure that someone was nearby…I was starting to feel that I was somewhat dehydrated and had goosebumps by mile 9. I ended up taking a good amount of time at the water stops from mile 7 on  trying to replenish with both Gatorade and water but knew I needed to be smart and not push it at this point. My goal became “finish”, and try and get under my time from last year which was a 1:51. At mile 12 I checked my watch and was at 1:40, which is my usual time for a half this year.

I have to be honest, one of the big reasons that I did not just give up and walk the rest of the way was Ava. She can be apprehensive about things, and even though she has seen other kids grab their dad or mom’s hand and cross the finish she has never done it. I know she had wanted to, but new things can be intimidating for her at first  (as they are for most 5 year olds). So I’ve never pushed for it, but secretly hoped one day she would ask. During the week she had told me this would be the race. I was beyond excited about it and we talked about how it would go and that we would hold hands, etc. Knowing she was standing there, most likely talking herself up to actually do it, I had to do the same. Thinking about her got me to that finish, and when I saw her, hand extended, I felt completely better. We crossed the line and high-fived; she looked so happy and I was so proud of her!

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We headed to the after party at the German club and had a great time watching the German dancers and accordian player. The kids danced and the weather was hot but beautiful. The fun after this race is another big reason I like it so much. Everyone has a great time. Soon after they began the award ceremony and I won my age group. The awards at this race are great. The overall winners receive a Cookoo Clock and age group winners receive these cute little German weather houses. Since I had placed in my age group last year as well, Ava claimed this one.

After the race we decided to head to our next hotel over by the airport. We changed into our bathing suits and all went swimming and just hung at the hotel the rest of the night. My sister who had been working that morning met us there and the kids had a blast.

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Sunday morning Jeff and I headed out to the John Heinz National Refuge for a nice run. We had explored there last summer and I was looking forward to getting back again. I was tired from the race the day before, but it’s just too beautiful to pass up.

We got back to the hotel, met the rest of the crew at breakfast, got everyone ready and drove to the Franklin Institute. Right now there is a fantastic Pixar exhibit going on, so we paid the extra to have it included in our admission, and we were not disappointed. I had not been to the Franklin Institute since I was a kid but had always loved it. It was neat to not only see the newer exhibits but also to see that the giant heart and train were still there. The kids really enjoyed it and we spent close to 4 hours there. They were all pretty exhausted by that point so we decided to let them nap on the drive home and then got dinner with my sister once we were back in town before unpacking and resetting for the week.

I know I always say it, but these weekends really are about so much more than my race. I put a lot of time into planning out which races I will do for this reason. I research what’s around that makes it into an adventure, learning experience, or just a fantastic memory for our family. I was very happy that Jeff was able to be there this weekend since he hadn’t made it to any other half marathon yet this year. The added bonus is that my parents and sister join us on almost every weekend. The support I receive from my family is incredible. There is always someone willing to watch my kids while I get out on a long run. Or someone who is willing to bike or run alongside me. My kids are great about joining me in the stroller, and Ava is always up for a quick mile or two. As long as I have their enthusiasm and support, we will continue these weekends and I will continue to race. When you make these weekends about more than just running they become truly special and I hope memories my kids will always treasure. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll be crossing the line with Ava after her first half marathon!

Life is an adventure. Enjoy the journey.

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xoxo,

Heather

 

Why I’m choosing to use BCAAs

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I have always been very interested in the science behind how our body works, and how that applies to nutrition and exercise. In fact, although I almost failed chemistry in high school, I had an incredible understanding once I started taking nutrition  courses in college. Along with that…I have also been very interested in Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) and how they  affect so many great things in our bodies.

BCAAs have so many positive benefits, especially for women who lead active lives. The problem for me has always been finding one that was all natural and that did not make me feel like I was adding chemicals and artificial “stuff” to my body. I’ve done a lot of research about them and made sure I was educated in making a decision of what brand to try. So when I came across Momsanity’s BCAAs I felt that they were a perfect fit for me. . They are completely free of any artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, or preservatives and made by moms with busy moms in mind. I was excited to try it out and have not been disappointed.

 

Here are some of the benefits I have found since starting to use BCAAs for the past few weeks:

Blood Sugar levels

This is a big one for me. I have been dealing with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) my entire life. I cannot tell you how many times I have fainted from my levels dropping, and I feel faint if I do not have something to eat almost every hour. But taking these I have noticed a huge difference in the way I have felt. BCAAs work like a carbohydrate in your body, so they help maintain sugar balance and also reduce sugar cravings. After a hard workout a lot of times I will feel my levels drop and now instead of reaching for a Gatorade for sugar, I add a serving to my water and get the same effect. I really feel a difference taking them post-workout.

Energy

As a working mom of two who leads an active lifestyle this is huge. BCAAs also help regulate cortisol levels which can be raised from stress. I feel like I can think clearer and am more balanced from them. Because as I mentioned they work like a carbohydrate in your body, they also help prevent fatigue. There are times that I am so exhausted at the end of the day that I literally cannot sleep. I have noticed a really big difference in the quality of sleep I am getting since my energy levels are higher during the day.

Muscle mass

As women, the older we get the harder it is for us to maintain muscle mass. The amino acids help to build muscle and help to prevent this from happening. It also helps reduce muscle soreness, so after a hard workout I feel I can recover quicker.

Water consumption

Although this isn’t necessarily something it’s known for, for me personally I have always been one to struggle with drinking enough water. Having some yummy flavor in there helps me tremendously. What I usually do is fill my 32 oz bottle with water, and then once I’m down to the 10 or 12 oz mark I add a scoop and finish it. It dissolves easily and I like the fruit punch taste!

BCAAs are also gained through foods in our diet, but when taken as a supplement they are absorbed immediately into the bloodstream. And let’s be honest, most of us do not eat completely balanced or healthy every single day. I love that I can take 2-3 servings mixed in with my water and know that no matter what I am getting these benefits.

Although I was able to try the Momsanity brand before it was available to everyone, it is now up on Amazon for purchase! You can find it here and use the code: BCAA4YOU for $10 off your order (expires Sunday, May 29th at midnight). You will also get a free cookbook with your order which has some fun recipes to use the BCAAs with, including gummies and smoothies. Do you use BCAAs? I’d love to hear others experiences with them as well!

xoxo

Heather

 

Weekend recap~Wildwood Half

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This past weekend we went down to Wildwood, NJ for not only a half marathon, but a quick fun getaway with some of my family and friends. I did this half marathon last year as well, and it’s a really fun race and Wildwood is a great family beach town, so what’s not to like?

My parents, sister, niece, and my kids headed down Saturday afternoon after swim lessons and gymnastics (tired them out to ensure a good nap on the ride). Also joining us were my friend Beth (the same friend who did her first half with me in Asbury) and her two daughters. Her older daughter, Faith is a former swimmer of mine who signed up for this to be her first half marathon!

The trip was easy, and we got there right in time to check into the hotel. Little did we know when we made the reservation that it was directly across the street from the bib pickup site on the boardwalk, and only a few blocks away from the start! I just love when things work out like that! We headed up to the boardwalk, and easily got our bibs, packets, shirts, and ride wristbands. One of the great thing about this race series is that with your registration you get a free 2-day pass for the rides at Morey’s Piers!

So at that time, Beth, Faith, Ava, and myself split from the group and headed down to the beach. The rest of our crew headed to the rides but we met up with a group of runners for some beach yoga, also a bonus of this race series. The instructor was great and it was perfect after a long morning and ride down.

When we were done, we met back up with everyone and continued to enjoy the rides and fun atmosphere of the boardwalk. The kids had a blast. As far as I’m concerned, this is what these weekends are about. Sure, I put in the time to train for the runs, but making it a whole family event is the most important to me. In fact, it is probably my number one motivator in my training!

As we were deciding to head back to the hotel and get ready for dinner, the dark clouds started rolling in. We made it back to the hotel just in time before the thunder and lightning and as soon as the storm passed we headed to the Boathouse for our pre-race dinner. We went to the same place last year and the food and atmosphere is perfect to bring kids and the view over the water is beautiful. We headed back to the hotel and I got everything organized for the morning.

On the morning of the race, we grabbed a bite to eat, got dressed, and walked up to the start just before the playing of the national anthem. The starting line was super organized and not too crowded the way they space out the pace groups which was a nice change! A few minutes later we were off.

Just to start off…

If I’m going to be totally honest with my race experience, I will have to apologize for sounding slightly negative. I really struggled during this race but hope it does not come off as sounding like I had a bad experience.

So as soon as I started to run my hip, which I never have issues with started to hurt. It scared me a little since there was no warning and I actually thought that maybe I should stop. Instead I decided to just hang  back and run a bit to see if it loosened up. Eventually it did, but I was worried about it.

Within the first mile we were heading north on the boardwalk. The spectators were really great. I remembered from last year how supportive the crowd and race volunteers are for this series and it helped to regain my stride knowing the support I would have throughout the race. The WildHalf series is not just a half marathon, there is also a 5k and 8k option for runners. They do a great job of clearly marking the course for each distance. It was super windy that day, so some of the mile marker signs were blown down, but my Fitbit takes care of that for me anyway.

I still cannot tell you exactly which direction the wind was blowing that day, but I can tell you that no matter which direction we ran, it seemed to be against us. It was a challenge, but growing up running around the beach, this is nothing new to me, and I don’t mind the challenge. When you run into the wind, however, your core and upper body become even more engaged which for me anyway, means more soreness the next day.

Around mile 4.5 is where the challenges of this course that I love really begin. The course is pretty much an “out and in” loop. At this point you cross over a highway overpass with a nice steady incline and down to an old high drawbridge. As I climbed the bridge, I was actually a little scared of being blown over! I had no one around me at that point so nothing to block the wind and it was strong!

I made it out to the turnaround, which I was really looking forward to. This was the first race in a while where I knew a good amount of people running. Once you turn around, you see all of the other runners for about a 3 mile stretch. So I got to see everyone I knew that was also out there! It’s a great distraction and really makes this race fun. The other runners were really enthusiastic and we all gave thumbs ups and words of encouragement, high fives, waves, whatever. I was almost laughing at this point as I headed back over the high bridge because I was being blown into the other side of runners. I won’t soon forget that!

I really did not feel right through this race. If it wasn’t for the volunteers and the high number of water/powerade stations they had I am honestly not sure I would have finished. My blood sugar felt off, my legs felt dehydrated, and the wind was definitely tough. At one point a man at one of the stations ran over to ask if I was ok, I’m thinking I must have been pretty pale at this point.

As I passed the 12 mile mark, I started to realize that I wasn’t doing as poorly as I thought and there was still a chance of going under 1:40, which is a personal goal I have. I just kept pushing through and at this point being up on the boardwalk with lots of crowd support I started to feel a bit better. Before I knew it, I could see the finish and crossed just above my goal, at 140.11. Still a personal best, and I was just so relieved that I pushed through those miles and never gave up on myself.

I found my family and headed over to Fox Park where the food and stage were for the after “party”. Ava joined me and picked out some goodies, the volunteers were awesome and gave her some of her own too…chocolate chip cookies, bananas, apples, bagels, soft pretzels, and more. I sometimes think my kids really only enjoy these races for all the food I get after! We took a quick pic on the step and repeat and then headed back to the finish line to watch everyone else finish.

I always enjoy watching the finish line and seeing the variety of people who run these races. Young, old, some finish holding hands, some sprint past people and keep that competitive spirit going until the end. There were even dogs crossing the line! This race just has a great vibe at the finish and the announcer was great too. So fun. Soon I saw Faith and Beth who both looked amazing and happy and I was so proud of them! Faith had completed her first half marathon with a smile on her face, and Beth had taken close to 20 minutes off her time from her first 13.1 only a month before. So awesome!

I headed back to the park with Beth and we checked out the tents once again. At this time the band was playing at the stage so the kids were having a blast. We sat down to listen for a few minutes and they began to announce the awards. Ava asked if she could come up with me for mine, and I laughed and told her I would not be getting one today. A few minutes later, they were announcing women 35-39 and wouldn’t you know it…they said my name as placing 3rd! I was shocked and Ava was over the moon excited to go up! We took some pics and then quickly headed back to check out of the hotel.

The day of the race just happened to also be my niece Rowan’s second birthday! I was honored that she woke up way before her usual wake up time to come cheer me on, and was looking forward to spending the rest of the day celebrating her. Between the wind and the cooler temps, our best bet was to find an indoor activity. We drove up to Atlantic City to the aquarium, which is really a cute place if you’ve never been. They have some touch tanks, turtles, stingrays, jellyfish, and lots more fish plus an observation deck on the top floor and a pretty garden area out front. It’s right on the water in a very pretty spot away from the hustle and bustle of the casinos.

After the fishies we headed to the Rainforest Cafe for dinner (I was beyond starving at this point!). They sat us in a big booth, which normally is great but poor Rowan was terrified of the ape over the table next to us. Nolan was not a huge fan either, but Ava loved it! We all got burgers or dinosaur nuggets, and much to my husband’s surprise I even caved for some souveneer cups! We had a great family dinner with my sister and parents complete with a huge volcano cake and then headed home to open some presents with the birthday girl. I’m not sure I mentioned that Jeff was not on this trip with us due to baseball, but by then his games were over and he met us at my parents and got to celebrate her big day too.

The weekend was fantastic. Like I have said before, I love how running can bring us to so many fun places and love making these races into mini family vacations and new experiences. The Wild Half series is just so great and they really do take the steps to make it a great weekend for not only the runners but the spectators and families too. I plan on running it again next year.
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A few days after the race we received an email that the course may have been slightly short. They apologized and offered runners a discounted rate for next year which I thought was really impressive. That being said, I’m actually very happy that I did not go under 1:40, and can now do so on a more regulated course. Everything happens for a reason, right?

Live for adventures. Run Happy

xoxo

Heather

 

 

 

Leading by example: strong vs. skinny

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Lately Ava, who is 5, has been very interested in working out as a family. We have started to practice some yoga, she has a tiny 2 pound weight, has really started to love running, and I love it. I’m so proud of her and happy to see that through both mine and Jeff’s example she is beginning to understand the importance of being healthy and making good choices for her well-being.

What I am even more happy about is that she has an understanding that working out is to help make us strong and not skinny. That eating balanced meals and having diets full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein is to fuel our bodies, not lose weight. And as proud of her as I am, I have to say that I am very proud of myself for this as well, because for a long time this was not the case for me.

For as long as I can remember, I was always worried about being fat. I had body-image issues that caused me to have low self confidence and there was not a day that went by that I wasn’t worried about gaining weight or was beating myself up over it. I grew up in a time where this was pretty common, and having a mother with an eating disorder, it was very close to home. As a swimmer and runner I saw many teammates struggle as well. Weight was a huge issue all around me and it was way more important than it should have been. For lack of a better word, it was normal for girls who were thin to complain about being fat.  My mom, family and friends told me I was beautiful all the time. But this came from me; I was always so hard on myself and when you are constantly putting yourself down, you start to believe it.

A horrible cycle of binge eating and excessive exercise was something I dealt with for a long time, all the way up to  college.  I was consumed by it and although I looked like I was in fantastic shape, it was probably the most unhealthy I had ever been. I was eating and exercising to be thin, not strong and was obsessive about it.

Even into my mid to late twenties I struggled. I went to the gym for hours, secretly keeping journals of my workouts, food, everything. I would even take days off from work if I knew it was the only way I could work out that day. Through it all, however, I really had no idea this was a problem.

Fast forward to the year I turned  30. Jeff and I were married, and I was ready to be a mom. When Ava was born, it was like she saved me. None of that mattered as much anymore. I still worked out, usually by running with her in the stroller, but my reasons changed. I wanted her to see her mom making good choices. I wanted to make sure that she would never struggle with any of the things that I had. I never wanted her to see me stay home because all of my clothes made me look fat, which happened many times in my life. I had to consciously step back and understand that she would learn from my actions. It wouldn’t matter how many times I told her she was beautiful, if she saw her mother putting herself down that’s what she would do too.

So we never talk about working out to lose weight or even maintain weight. Even after my son was born, I never alluded to the baby weight or put myself down in front of her, no matter how badly I wanted to get back in shape. Yes, I felt that way, it’s completely natural after a woman has a baby. But she didn’t need to hear that. In her eyes my body was amazing for bringing her baby brother into this world. And you know what? She is right.

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We as moms don’t give ourselves enough credit for that. Our bodies can do incredible things and we put them through so much. We need to be proud of what they are capable of and respect them for that. As a teacher and coach to middle and high school girls it breaks my heart to hear their comments and know some will struggle with these issues.  We need to break this cycle and keep striving to teach our girls (and boys) that being strong is far more important than skinny. That being comfortable in your own skin and believing in yourself are the keys to being successful.

I allow Ava to call the shots when it comes to our workouts. I’m lucky she is still cool with the stroller for runs, so when she wants to head out I bring it along so she can hop in and out when she wants. I never force her to workout, I let her know what I am going to do and if she wants to join, great. If not, great. We live a mostly healthy,  and organic lifestyle when it comes to food, but are always up for the occasional treat. We might explain that something isn’t the most healthy or suggest a healthier alternative, but I make sure I never tell her something she eats will make her fat. Or call something fattening. It’s always “unhealthy”. Fat just doesn’t exist in our vocabulary.

I won’t say that I don’t still struggle with some of the issues I’ve had. And maybe I always will. It may not make sense to anyone else, but I can honestly say that she has taught me so much about being self confident and self accepting. I learn how to just go about my life without concern of judgement or worry about what someone thinks of me or my weight. Funny how much we learn from our children. She doesn’t know that she could worry about these things. I hope to keep it that way.

I wanted to share some of my favorite pictures of Ava and I running and practicing yoga together. These moments are so incredible to me, and I’d like to think to her too.

 

 

Friday favorite: Simple Taco Seasoning

So tacos are pretty simple, and who doesn’t love the traditional beef tacos we all had growing up? Little fact about me: I  did not eat meat (other than seafood) for many years. When I was pregnant with Ava, I craved steak and red meat like crazy, but as silly as it sounds was afraid to eat it in case my body had a strange reaction. So when she was about 4 months old, and the craving was still there (along with issues with iron levels) I bit the bullet…or steak in this case and started eating red meat again. Still no birds, but now we eat meat at least one night a week.

Over the past few months Jeff and I have been making a tradition of “Taco Tuesday” and have some form of tacos, fajitas, or nachos each week. When it comes to the seasoning for taco meat, I am not a huge fan of all of the added preservatives, but they’re just so good! So one night we decided to try and come up with our own. The kids aren’t into tacos so we were able to make it with some spice too. I also use a version of this recipe with my students but we tone it down a bit.

Again, I don’t measure everything so these are all estimates, but you can adjust according to your own preferences. If you don’t care for something, leave it out!

Basically I just mix all of these in a small ramekin:


 

2-3 TBSP Chili Powder (this is the “bulk” of the recipe for us)

Then a dash, pinch, or shake of each of the following:

Paprika

Ground cumin

Garlic powder

Dried Oregano

Crushed red pepper flakes

Cayenne pepper

(Sea salt and black pepper to taste-depends on my mood if I add them)


 

I usually use a very lean, all natural ground beef and just brown it in a large skillet over medium heat.

Drain beef, return to heat

Add seasoning mix, and 1/4-1/2 cups water, depending on amount of meat

Simmer for a few minutes and enjoy!

You may need to adjust the amounts depending on how much beef you use, I usually make 1 or 2 lbs so we have leftovers for taco salads or nachos later in the week or for lunches.

Since Cinco de Mayo is next week, we will be having “Taco Thursday” instead of Tuesday. We love any reason to celebrate and get the family together, and when tacos are involved it’s always great!

Here are some pics from our Cinco fun last year. I also made sombrero cookies and cactus cupcakes, and of course we had a pinata!
avacinco

cactus

nolancinco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sombrero

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Heather

 

Weekend recap~Poughkeepsie NY

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This past weekend we were once again on the road for Jeff’s series against Marist College. This was the first time I visited this area, so during the week as I planned out packing and driving, I also looked into what there was to do near the campus. I decided to only take Ava on this trip and make somewhat of a girl’s weekend out of it…sometimes I sense that she needs some “big girl” time, and since her little bro is totally in that “terrible two” buggy little brother stage, she deserved some Mommy and Daddy time. It was only about a 2 hour drive up to the hotel, and we headed up Friday evening picking up the head coach’s wife and daughter, (LA and K) on the way and got in around 9pm.

We were staying in Fishkill, which is about 20 minutes away from the campus. Of course one of the first things I check to see if the hotel has is a gym. For the first time in I don’t know how long they did not! So having done some research I found that in between the hotel and the campus there was the Walkway over the Hudson which was part of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail. It looked really neat, and a great place that I could run with the stroller.

So Saturday morning Ava and I got up, had some breakfast and went to check it out. As we drove down the road, we saw a bridge up ahead. I told Ava I thought that was the bridge we would be running over and she said “no way!”. It looked old, narrow and rickety and I was also a little apprehensive. We drove to a parking lot and found the stairs leading up to the bridge. When we got to the top, we had a pleasant surprise! It was absolutely beautiful. The bridge itself was very clean, wider than it appeared and the view was unbelievable. We had gotten there fairly early and pretty much had the whole bridge to ourselves.

The bridge alone is about 1.3 miles long and crosses over the Hudson River. We stopped a couple times to check out the view and take some pictures, and Ava ran with me for more than half of it. Once we crossed, she climbed into the stroller and we headed down the paved trail for another 4 miles.

Along the way we saw so many beautiful spots, lots of rocky cliffs, trees, old trains and buildings. About 2.5 miles from the bridge there was about a half mile stretch with fitness equipment you could do different exercises on. We saw a few bikers and walkers along the way, and even running tour group, which was pretty cool. For the most part it was empty and very peaceful. And definitely way better than a hotel treadmill! If you are ever out in that area, I highly recommend checking it out.

After our fantastic run (10 miles for me, about 1.5 for her) we headed back to the hotel to get ready for some baseball. Jeff’s team had a double header that day and the weather was great. It’s funny, Ava never seems like she is paying attention to the games but definitely takes an interest in what’s going on. They won the first game but lost the second. After the game, Ava ran over and jumped up on the fence and said to Jeff, “Daddy, you lost! But you won the first one. And you still have the third one tomorrow so it’s ok.” Our little motivational coach in the making!

Saturday night was our usual fun filled dinner out with the coaches, LA, and K.  There was a Charlie Browns right across from the hotel so that was the easiest choice. After dinner, I overheard a sweet conversation between Ava and Jeff as I got ready for bed:

JB: “Ava, do you like these baseball weekends?”

A: “Yes I do!”

JB: “What do you like about them the most?”

A: “I love watching my dad!”

So my heart melted and I probably even teared up a little. Sometimes I worry that we do too much with the kids and being on the road. They stay up later, meals can be a little interesting, and they’re often more tired than usual on Monday mornings. But that right there helped remind me why we do it. I love sharing these great days with not only Jeff but with our kids. They see incredible places. They watch their daddy do what he loves. And they are exposed to so many things along the way.

We slept a little later on Sunday morning and then after a quick breakfast I was able to give Ava some promised pool time. She is such a little fish!

So here’s a confession. I was a competitive swimmer for pretty much my whole childhood. I was even a college swimmer. I have been a varsity swim coach for over ten years and absolutely love the sport. And I also was an ocean lifeguard for 14 years, only stopping when I had kids. I swim laps once in a while still, and wish I did more. BUT I have always hated hanging out in pools. Like recreational swimming. I never wanted to go to someone’s house and go in the pool and really don’t spend much time floating around in the ocean. Unless I’m working out, I am not a huge fan. Being splashed is torture to me.  But for Ava, I do it. She loves it and I love watching her in the pool. So we swam for an hour, and I had a lot of fun with her.

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On Saturday I had pointed out the bridge to LA and K and they had the same reaction Ava and I had about not wanting to go over it. I convinced them it was way better when you were up there and they would not regret trying it out. Sunday morning we packed up and all headed out to run, and planned on just going straight to the game from there. It was pretty much right across the street. We parked and walked up and we all ran separately. Ava stayed in the stroller the whole time, which was good because Sunday is clearly the busy day for the trail. There were so many people, some tours, and they were setting up for a Parkinson’s walk as well. But it was still a great run.

It’s funny, every trip we go on it seems there is some milestone, even a small one that happens and when I think back I remember the trip and the first time Ava did this, or Nolan said that. This past weekend Ava finally mastered chewing gum. Funny, but she has grown up so much through these seasons and I can still picture her learning to walk down hotel hallways and batting cages.

After a great win, we left the field and headed home, getting back just in time to meet my sister for dinner and be reunited with the little man. Then we unpacked and were back to business as usual. After school Monday I asked Ava if she was tired and she said yes. But it is totally worth it, and just meant an earlier bedtime.

“Fill your life with experiences, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.”

 

Happy Travels!

xoxo

Heather