Beef and Butternut Squash Stew Recipe {Gluten-Free, Paleo, Whole30}

Paleo Whole30 Beef and Butternut Squash Stew Recipe

My winter blues savior and new favorite word to say and is the Danish concept of hygge (pronounced hoo-gah). Hygge is a feeling of coziness, warmth, or charm enjoyed alone or with others. Hygge can be any simple ritual or action that causes you to slow down and savor the moment, like sitting down to really taste and enjoy a cup of morning coffee, or relaxing with family by the fireplace on a cold night. One of my favorite ways to enjoy hygge in the winter is to turn on some jazz, light a candle or two, and sit down to a hot bowl of soup or stew for dinner.

More often than not, my hygge-friendly recipe of choice is a bowl of homemade Beef and Butternut Squash Stew with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Fresh Rosemary.  This recipe fills my apartment with heavenly aromatics while simmering, and it really hits the spot on a cold or rainy evening. I don’t cook much red meat, but the sweetness of the butternut squash and savoriness of the sun-dried tomatoes pairs perfectly with the tender beef here.

It’s a hearty stew that’ll really fill and warm you up, and, best of all, it comes together really easily and requires minimal ingredients.

Sometimes I add some red wine to my Beef and Butternut Squash Stew to punch up the flavor, but I’ve omitted it in this version to make this a Whole30-friendly recipe. Feel free to reduce the broth and add a 1/4 cup of red wine if you desire, but it’s wonderful without as well!

Beef and Butternut Squash Stew with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Fresh Rosemary {Whole30, Paleo, Gluten-Free}

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat, cubed

1 yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups butternut squash, cubed

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes

3 cups beef bone broth

1 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced

1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced

1/2 tsp salt + more to taste

1/2 tsp pepper + more to taste

2 tbsp olive oil

Directions

Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once hot, add stew meat, salt, and pepper. Cook until the beef is browned, then remove from dutch oven and set to the side.

Reduce heat to medium and add the onion, garlic, rosemary, and thyme until tender, about 5 minutes.

Re-add the beef, as well as the butternut squash, sun-dried tomatoes, and broth. Stir to combine with a wooden spoon, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.

Bring the stew to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.

Season the stew with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve, and enjoy!

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January Whole30 Meal Plan Week 1

Whole30 fresh produce grocery haul

Hellooooo, 2018!

I woke up excited for the present and future, eager to set my intentions for the year, and ready to start digging into the many projects I have either dreamed up or already lined up for the new year. I hope you too are feeling optimistic and happy to embrace the newness that’s in the air!

My first big challenge of the year starts tomorrow, when I begin the January Whole30 Reset. (More info on what the Whole30 here.)

I spent yesterday afternoon peeling, chopping, and roasting a week’s worth of veggies for two, plus cooking a chicken in my Instant Pot, making homemade bone broth, and whipping up a pot of chicken green chile stew. My fridge is loaded with nourishing cooked foods, and today I’ll finish the rest of the prep.

Whole30 meal prep foods: lettuce, roasted brussels sprouts, roasted potatoes, roasted butternut squash, broccoli

I’ve shared my meal plan for Week 1 below. As you can see, the name of the game is simple. Having fewer choices makes the introductory period less stressful (especially if this is your first Whole30). Plus, having a menu or meal plan prevents you from straying from the Whole30 program rules. Pre-prepped food also allows you more time through the week to work on all your other goals (or just settle back into the post-holiday work schedule).

A lot of the foods in this meal plan are my go-tos. I’m excited to try a few new recipes for next week and include them here on the blog!

The Meals

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What is the Whole30, and What Should I Expect From It?

Hand holding the Whole30 Cookbook

I, like many, many other folks am happy to turn the page on 2017 and kick off 2018 with optimism, joy, and confidence. One of the most consistently powerful ways I have found to improve my energy and outlook is to nourish my body with quality food.

For that reason, I will be doing my fourth Whole30 this January. I have many friends and family who will be also completing a January Whole30 (for most it’ll be their first!), and I’m so excited to share the experience with them.

So, What is the Whole30?

The Whole30 is a 30-day reset where you eliminate certain foods from your diet. The following are not allowed: grains, alcohol, dairy, soy, processed foods, added sugars (including honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and the like), legumes, and anything not “real.”

Foods to be enjoyed during the month are vegetables, meat, eggs, seafood, fruits, and natural fats. Whenever possible, it’s recommended to opt for sustainable, ethically-treated, grass-fed, pasture-raised, and/or organic fare.

The goal of the Whole30 is to make intentional, mindful food choices, feed your body well, and hopefully shift your emotional relationship with food. It’s NOT a diet.

There’s no calorie counting, portion limits, or weigh-ins. You nourish your body by eating real food when you’re hungry, and that’s about it.

What Should I Expect From the Whole30?

Having completed the Whole30 three times over the past three years, I can tell you that during some parts of the month you will feel incredible, full of energy, and so happy you decided to hop on the January Whole30 train. Woohoo! On other days (mostly towards the beginning, when your body is adapting to zero refined foods), you will likely feel quite awful. It gets better; I promise!

Here are some things you can expect to experience and learn while on the Whole30.

Meal prep is everything.

If you plan on completing the Whole30, you’re going to have to make use of your kitchen. I highly recommend making food in bulk and having meals and snacks stored in the fridge for takeaway lunches and meals at home. I personally prefer to meal prep several meals, or meal components, on Sunday night so that if I have a long day and don’t want to cook dinner on, say, Tuesday night, all I have to do is open my fridge and grab a Pyrex full of soup or casserole. Some of my favorite foods to meal prep are the following: hard-boiled eggs, frittatas, salads, soups, a whole roasted chicken, roasted potatoes and veggies, ground beef or turkey, and fruit.

Food is emotional.

I can’t tell you how many times during my first Whole30 experience I would yearn to get home after a long, stressful workday, order a pizza, and have a glass or two of wine while planted on the couch. By not being able to give into those desires like I always had, I realized that my temptations weren’t food cravings. Rather, they were ways for me to cope with stress and “treat myself” for making it through another rough day. Noticing and working through my emotional relationship with food and identifying the triggers for my food habits was groundbreaking. I struggled through this lots (and still do!), but I’m now much better at being more mindful about choosing healthier ways to deal with stress, like drinking a cup of herbal tea, working out, or taking a long, hot shower.

Sugar is in everything.

I tend to not do a lot of sweets at home. We don’t typically keep cookies, candy, or other dessert-like snacks in the pantry, so I didn’t really think I consumed that much sugar (besides fruit, the occasional treat, and cocktails). However, once you go grocery shopping and have to look at all of the ingredient in everything you buy, you would be so amazed at how much food has added sugar in it. From soup, to bacon, to sauces and condiments, sugar lurks in so many unexpected places at the grocery store. Doing the Whole30 has opened my eyes to this and taught me to ALWAYS read labels and be wary of anything prepackaged.

Go through Whole30 with someone else.

I went through my first Whole 30 by myself, which wasn’t easy. Nothing was more challenging than being home with my boyfriend while he poured himself a drink after work, or talked about how he had tacos catered in the office that day. It was bad enough to be tempted by coworkers and in social settings, but nothing was worse than living with someone who was eating Oreos on the couch next to you and sprinkling cheese all over your otherwise Whole 30 approved zucchini pasta. That’s why I’m so excited to go through this January Whole30 with friends and family. Whether it’s your husband, best friend, or even a coworker, go through the program with someone else and/or get an accountability partner; you’ll be so much happier.

Carry emergency food.

Whether you plan on hitting the gym after a long day at the office, have a meetup with friends planned for after work, or you’re anticipating a long day of travel, always bring emergency food with you. I almost always had an apple and a bag of almonds in my purse or gym backpack just in case I wouldn’t be getting home on time on any given night. While snacking is frowned upon on Whole 30, there have been several instances where I hadn’t eaten since noon, just had an intense workout, had no plans of going home anytime soon, and simply needed some food in my stomach before getting seriously hangry. In fact, nothing is worse than reaching that state and not being able to find anything Whole30-approved nearby. You’ll be way less likely to give into temptation and be way more pleasant to be around if you’re always prepared and have emergency food on you.

Are you planning on completing a January Whole30? Let me know in the comments below if you are, or if you’re interested in joining an accountability group!

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Les Mills Virtual Bodypump Class Review

Les_Mills_Virtual_Bodypump_Class_at_Bladium_Fitness_Back_Track_Squats

When I’m lacking the motivation to push myself on the treadmill or the weight room, or I just want to mix up my training, I love a good group fitness class. I really got onboard with them when I started taking Les Mills Bodypump classes many years back and realized that I could get a great full-body workout in in just under an hour.

Traditional group fitness classes are in full swing before and after the 9-5 workday, but if you have a more unique schedule where a mid-afternoon or late-night sweat are more the norm, it’s not always easy to find scheduled group classes.

Fortunately, Les Mills has introduced its new Virtual workouts, which allow you to access Les Mills fitness programs on a screen in your local gym at your leisure. Choose the program of your interest (Bodypump, Grit, Bodycombat, and more), the workout duration, and intensity, and follow along with the on-screen workout whenever it’s convenient for you. It’s like having access to a massive collection of Les Mills workout DVDs at your fingertips.

Les_Mills_Virtual_Bodypump_Class_at_Bladium_Fitness_Touch_Sreen

I was able to try out a few of the classes this week at Bladium Fitness in Alameda. In addition to maintaining their full schedule of instructor-led group fitness classes, they recently launched their Virtual program and now have a dedicated Virtual group fitness studio within the gym. Pop in whenever it’s convenient for you, pick a workout on the touch screen, and get to it!

Les_Mills_Virtual_Bodypump_Class_at_Bladium_Fitness_Setup

I came in to Bladium around 2pm on a weekday and tucked into the room for my very own workout. I picked a 55-minute intermediate Bodypump workout and got a great sweat in at a time when no other group fitness classes were being offered. The room was fully equipped with bars, plates, benches, and mats, and I didn’t have to think about anything except following along with the movements on the screen.

Les_Mills_Virtual_Bodypump_Class_at_Bladium_Fitness_Lunges

While I still love working out with others in a group setting, this new Virtual program is a wonderful option for when my schedule gets busy and a before- or after-work workout isn’t in the cards. It’s also a great way to revisit Les Mills releases that you loved from the past, and prevent your workouts from getting stale.

I do suggest that you feel comfortable with the fundamentals of each workout before trying the Virtual version out, especially those involving weights. The biggest downside of working out with the Virtual program is that you don’t have an instructor to adjust and encourage proper form. When in doubt, follow the verbal queues from the video and use the studio’s mirrors, if possible.

I can’t wait to enjoy more Les Mills Virtual workouts at Bladium! It’ll definitely be my go-to option when I’m too lazy to program for myself or when I can’t make it to a regularly scheduled group fitness class.

Have you taken a Les Mills Virtual class before? What did you think? If not, would you be interested in this type of workout setting? 

Les_Mills_Virtual_Bodypump_Class_at_Bladium_Fitness_Squat_Track Check out the Les Mills/Bladium GRIT Challenge I recently completed!

*Bladium Alameda sponsored this post. However, all opinions are my own!

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Bladium GRIT Competition + GRIT Challenge Results

Performing burpees at the Bladium GRIT Competition at Bladium Fitness Alameda

Six weeks ago I began the GRIT Challenge hosted by one of my local gyms, Bladium Fitness. I started the challenge excited to incorporate Les Mills high-intensity GRIT classes into my workout routine while I trained to improve my half marathon race time. Check out my starting point here.

I began the challenge knowing that in order to succeed I would need to prioritize my nutrition and incorporate enough strength training to combat muscle loss from running. I also knew that dramatic results in only six weeks were very, very unlikely. Rather, this challenge would be a great way to try out new fitness classes and make some great beginning strides towards less body fat and the foundation for more lean muscle mass.

My Results

Having just finished the challenge, my body composition changed very minimally, as expected. However, my fitness level has definitely improved since introducing GRIT HIIT classes into my routine, and THAT’S what I’m excited about!

I call this challenge a victory because I had fun, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone (especially during the GRIT Competition I describe further down), and I made progress in what my body is capable of. While plyometrics still don’t come easy to me, I’ve made huge strides in my alternating jumping lunges, squat thrusters, and more.

I’m looking forward to continuing to incorporate more Les Mills GRIT classes into my routine and pairing them with lots and lots of resistance training.

At the beginning of this challenge, I couldn’t tuck jump to save my life. Near the end of the challenge, during the Bladium GRIT Competition, I did 20 in a row after already being completely exhausted.

So, what is this GRIT Competition, you ask?

A week and a half ago, I participated in the Bladium GRIT Competition, a relay-style team competition where several teams of four raced against each other to be the first to complete several different series of movements like sprints, burpees, overhead squats, and lots more. The winning team would win a whopping $500, so you bet there were lots of people excited to participate.

The competition was held at one of the indoor soccer fields at Bladium Fitness. We started with a quick warm-up, then began the first phase of the competition, burpees at every beep just to fatigue us from the beginning. The point of these weren’t to do more than anyone else, just to get us nice and tired before the real part of the competition began.

Each person had to go through a series of nine moves, 10 reps each, then tag the next person on the team who would do the exact same, until each person on the team went.

Here are the moves:

10x Plate​ ​Overhead​ ​Squat
10x Plate​ ​Row​ ​and​ ​Upright​ ​Row
10x Plate​ ​Lunge
10x Lateral​ ​Jumps​ ​Over​ ​Plate
10x Double​ ​Jack​ ​Pushups
10x Forward​ ​Long​ ​Jumps
10x Tuck​ ​Jumps
10x Backward​ ​Bear​ ​Crawl
10x Sprint​ ​Shuttle

Weighted Lunges at the Bladium GRIT Competition at Bladium Fitness Alameda

Then we divided up those same nine moves so that each person owned 2 or 3 of them and had to do 20 reps this time. We could choose to go in any order and strategize to play to our individual strengths, though the whole team had to collectively complete 20 reps of each move.

I did the 20x Plate Row and Upright Row, plus 20x Tuck Jumps.

Each team had a coach to make sure everyone was doing the moves correctly and the full number of reps, and our amazing coach, Coach Liz, even endured some of the hardest parts of the competition with us. Almost everyone struggled through the Forward Long Jumps and Backward Bear Crawls, and whenever she saw fatigue set in among myself or one of my teammates, she got right in there with us and finished with us to completion. Thanks for the encouragement, Coach Liz!

When were neared the end of the competition, everyone on my team was drenched in sweat and completely exhausted. I was so tired and focused on doing my best physically, as well as supporting my teammates, that I paid zero attention to any of the other teams and their progress. I was in a blurry bubble of adrenaline and fatigue that, honestly, didn’t go away until many, many hours later.

When our last teammate finished her final sprint of the competition, total joy and a huge sense of accomplishment set in. We were DONE! We weren’t first to finish, but it sure felt good to know we gave it our all. I was especially proud that I pushed myself to do something that scared me (i.e. team competition).

We then cheered on the other teams who were still finishing up, took some group photos, and called it a night.

I definitely took a rest day after the competition, but I’ve jumped back into a few more GRIT classes this past week. I’m also already so excited to participate in the next GRIT Challenge and Competition next spring!

*Bladium Alameda sponsored this post. However, all opinions are my own!

 

 

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Bladium Alameda 6 Week GRIT Challenge – Getting into GRIT

Bladium Alameda 6 Week Grit Challenge Fitness Challenge

I love a good fitness challenge, so I was so excited that the wonderful people at Bladium Alameda invited me to join their Bladium GRIT Challenge, a six week HIIT-focused fitness challenge that encourages participants to set exercise and health goals and work towards them in a supportive “we’re all in this together” atmosphere.

The challenge is complete with a before and after body composition analysis, fitness assessments, nutritional support, workout tips, and motivation from Bladium group fitness coaches via a members-only Facebook group, and for the competitive folksprizes for those who have the most improved body composition and improved athleticism at the end of the challenge.

Specifically, this fitness challenge is focused on incorporating several Les Mills GRIT and SPRINT classes into your weekly workout routine.

What are Les Mills GRIT classes?

Les Mills GRIT classes are 30-minute high-intensity interval training (HIIT) fitness classes. These classes are short, yet intense, and designed to keep your heart rate up and burn fat.

Classes include GRIT Strength, GRIT Cardio, and GRIT Plyo. Les Mills Sprint classes are also included in the challenge, which is a HIIT-style spin class that will leave you dripping in sweat after a mere half hour.

GRIT Cardio is a bodyweight-based workout that is filled with burpees, tuck jumps, mountain climbers, and all the things to make you want to melt into the gym floor and never get back up again.

GRIT Strength is 30 minutes of HIIT-inspired strength training using a barbell, free weights, and bodyweight. If you’ve ever taken BODYPUMP, Strength features lots of the same moves, but done faster and with no rest time between sets.

GRIT Plyo is another 30-minute workout involves lots of explosive jumping and agility work. (This type of workout is NOT my forte, so it’ll be fun to push myself here!)

GRIT Cardio 30-Minute Workout Results on My Apple Watch

My Starting Point

I had a DEXA scan done by BodySpec a year ago and was so excited to get another body composition scan as a part of this challenge. Nutrishop Alameda brought equipment into the gym so that all participants could take the 5-minute scan. All I had to do was take off my socks and shoes (and any heavy clothing), stand on a scale-like contraption, enter a few details about myself, like my height, weight, age, and gender, hold onto some small joystick buttons, and let the thing scan my body.

body composition scan machine from nutrishop alameda at bladium

My results printed out in a matter of minutes, and I snapped a shot so that I could remember my stats.

Right away, I was super excited to see that my BMR had increased by about 100 calories. This means that even if I were to literally lie in bed all day and not move at all, my body would automatically burn more calories that it would have doing the same thing a year ago. (Thanks, weight training!) I have also gained several pounds of muscle since my last scan (hence the higher BMR), and I have lost some body fat.

Honestly, I’m starting this GRIT challenge feeling comfortable in my skin, and I believe my mindset is in a generally good place. A huge reason why I workout is for mental benefits, and I eat lots of vegetables and “healthy” foods because I love and crave them, not as punishment.

However, I do want to improve my athletic performance and achieve a few other goals by the end of these 6 weeks.

My Goals for the Challenge

As a runner who wants to improve my speed, one of my main goals for this 6 week challenge is to lose body fat while maintaining my muscle. Less body fat means less effort to run, which should help me cross finish lines faster. GRIT Cardio and Plyo should be a huge help here!

In order to maintain muscle, I’ll have to maintain some level of weight training (GRIT Strength) + solo gym sessions, as well as properly fuel my body with ample nourishing food.

I’ll aim to take at least two GRIT classes each week at Bladium, as well as get in one or two short lifting sessions, and three runs. By combining the short 30-minute GRIT classes with a short lifting session, I’m setting myself up for five days at the gym each week, which should help give me two recovery days for yoga, foam rolling, and light stretching.

Finally, I’d like to be more aware of how and why I eat over the next several weeks. I’ll be pushing myself to fuel my body with primarily nourishing foods that will give me enough energy to perform well. I’ll also try hard to avoid trigger foods, like chips and alcohol, but I’m not going to 100% restrict myself from anything. Meal prep combined with intuitive clean eating will be lots of help here!

 

Wish me luck as I continue into Week 2 of this GRIT challenge!

Have you ever participated in a fitness challenge? Would love to hear how you stayed motivated!

 

*Bladium Alameda sponsored this post. However, all opinions are my own!

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2017 Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon Recap

Running along the ocean in Vancouver during the Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon

I love running, and I love traveling. So it’s only natural that my wanderlust and wandering legs would combine forces and take me across country borders for my first international runcation, the Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon.

I’ve heard amazing things about the production of this Vancouver-based race and its enthusiastic crew of Lulu runners who flood online registration and scoop up every available entry within minutes.

However, I also know the race boasts a rather expensive $158 CAD race entry fee. So when a fellow runner tipped me off that Lululemon was giving away free race entries to people via Twitter, you bet I jumped online within seconds and was tweeting away my desire to get hooked up with a comped entry. Not only did I get one for myself, I got a free entry for Michel too!

Yoga in Vancouver during the 2017 Lululemon Seawheeze Package Pickup Party

The Lululemon Seawheeze is not only a half marathon, but also a yoga party, shopping extravaganza, and music festival all wrapped up into one femme-friendly package. The race occurs on Saturday morning, with the package pickup party and the opportunity to shop exclusive Lululemon designs going down the day before, on Friday. The yoga festival and concert happen Saturday evening, so the whole Seawheeze experience is a full two days of movement and fun.

Breathe In. Run Wild. Sign for the 2017 Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon

I showed up to bib pickup Friday late afternoon, so I missed out on the shopping frenzy, but I was still able to pick up my race bag (which included a Lulu bag and water bottle) and enjoy some yoga, free samples, and sunshine before grabbing dinner and settling in for a good night’s rest the night before the race.

We woke up early Saturday morning, excited to start moving, but once Michel and I left the hotel we struggled to find an open coffee location near the start line. I *require* coffee pre-race, so we wandered around (kinda) frantically until we finally found a Starbucks that opened 30 minutes before the race started. Crisis averted!

We made it to the start line (albeit a bit late), and took off into the wonderfully fresh and crisp Vancouver morning with the 2:05 pacer (Seawheeze refers to each one as a “pace beaver”) and her posse of goal-driven runners, just a tiny chunk of the 10,000 runners that participate in this race.

Lululemon Seawheeze 2017 Start Line in Vancouver, BC

Every few miles or so we passed a cheer station, mostly sponsored by local fitness studios, as well as musicians and entertainers lining the streets to motivate us forward. There was even a cheer station of police officers and firefighters who cheered us on with Super Soakers and Backstreet Boys hits.

Breathe In, Run Wild Seen along the course of the Lululemon Seawheeze 2017 Half Marathon

Nearly all of the race is run along the water, and the whole thing was spectacularly beautiful. But the most amazing part of the race was the final few miles, ran along the famous Vancouver Seawall and through Stanley Park (one of the most gorgeous public parks I’ve ever seen). To say the views were majestic would be an understatement. Ocean to the left, thick, lovely trees to the right. It was perfection.

Running along the Seawall during the Lululemon Seawheeze 2017 Half Marathon

Michel and I sprinted to the finish line together, and a minute after we crossed we were rewarded with the most legit half marathon medal I’ve ever received, some water, and a cold towel (nice touch!). After a few post-race photos, we were also given a pair of Seawheeze sunglasses and a Vega bar on our way from the finish line to our next destinationfree brunch hosted by Seawheeze.

Walking from the Lululemon Seawheeze finish line in Vancouver, BC to post-race brunch

Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon Finisher

2017 Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon Medal

For the number of people participating in this race, I couldn’t believe how well-organized the post-race flow was, as well as how quickly we made our way through the brunch queue. And best of all, seriously BEST OF ALL, I was so excited to reach the front of the brunch line and see that one of the four food tents was labeled allergy-friendly.

Lululemon Seawheeze 2017 Brunch Box - Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free

Post-race brunches are often bagels or pancakes, so being gluten-free, I usually just get half a banana, or I don’t even bother waiting in line for free food. However, I was so freaking excited to pick up a brunch box that was gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-freeand no, it wasn’t just a piece of fruit and some lettuce. We’re talking gluten-free banana bread, people!

Lululemon Seawheeze 2017 Brunch Box - Gluten-Free Chia Pudding with Jam, Gluten-Free Banana Bread, Fruit, Chocolate, and Other Lululemon Free Swag

After enjoying some of the brunch, stretching out, and getting a few more photos, Michel and I headed back to the hotel to shower, change, and explore the beautiful city of Vancouver.

We returned to Stanley Park later that afternoon for the Sunset Festival, which included some outdoor yoga, food, drinks, games, and a concert featuring Young the Giant and Cold War Kids.

All in all, it was a perfect race and perfect day!

What I enjoyed about the Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon

  1. A well-produced race that felt organized and efficient
  2. The most beautiful course I’ve ever ran (truly!)
  3. Free Lululemon shorts with race entry
  4. A full weekend of pre- and post-race activities
  5. It’s not a local race for me, so I was able to enjoy a fun runcation.
  6. Free gluten-free brunch option
  7. Lots of free goodies in addition to the Lulu gear

Tips for Next Year

  1. Plan to be ready to buy tickets the minute they go on sale, or prepare to not get a guaranteed race entry.
  2. Follow Lululemon on Twitter. Maybe they’ll give out free race entries again next year?
  3. Save some money for this race. The entry fee is hefty, plus if you’re a Lulu fan you’ll want to shop the exclusive “runners only” shop. On top of that, if you’re coming from the states, remember to fold in travel costs.
  4. Take photos along the course. It’s a good one.
  5. Plan your morning coffee strategy ahead of time, or stay at a hotel that provides non-janky coffee at an early hour for guests.

Have you ever ran the Seawheeze Half Marathon, or do you have an interest in doing so?

Want to run your first half marathon? Here are my top 10 training tips!

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Prosciutto and Fig Salad Recipe

prosciutto and fig salad over arugula with walnuts and feta cheese

When savory prosciutto is combined with sweet figs and peppery arugula, wonderful, magical, and sexy things happen—like this salad. 

Elevated, yet simple, this prosciutto and fig salad recipe comes together in no time, and is perfect for impressing special people—or just yourself. (Fun fact: I chowed down on this salad post-trail run and still in my sweaty workout clothes, so no fanciness needed to enjoy!)

If you’re not a fig person yet, you gotta get on the train. They’re in-season from June through September, and have a luscious, partially crunchy yet smooth texture, with a sweet, honey-like flavor that was made for this salad recipe.

I’m a huge fan of fruit in my salads, so this one hits the spot and still lets me satisfy my craving for something a bit more salty and savory. Plus, the poppy seed dressing adds a nice crunch that goes well with the texture of the figs.

Because this salad contains olive oil, walnuts, and feta cheese, it’s quite filling. Yet, this dish still feels light and can be the perfect complement to a heartier main course.

Give it a whirl and let me know what you think! I’m also working on transforming this salad into a gluten-free pizza recipe for my carb-loving boyfriend, so stay tuned for how that experiment works out!

Ingredients

For the Dressing

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp honey

1/2 tsp poppy seeds

1/8 tsp kosher salt

For the Salad

4 cups baby arugula

4 ripe figs, quartered

3 oz feta cheese, crumbled

2 oz prosciutto, torn into pieces

1/4 cup walnuts, toasted

Directions

Combine the oil, vinegar, poppy seeds, honey, and salt, and whisk together.

Place the arugula in a large bowl, and top with prosciutto, feta, figs, and walnuts. Drizzle with dressing, toss, and serve. Enjoy!

prosciutto and fig salad over arugula with feta and toasted walnuts

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Half Marathon Training Plan + Carb Cycling

Running a track workout for half marathon training

I spent most of my weekend getting some much needed rest, creating an updated vision board, and outlining a new half marathon training plan and carb cycling program for the next eight weeks. It was exactly what my stressed and rundown brain and body needed to wake up this morning feeling wonderfully rejuvenated and ready to attack my goals.

The training plan I created culminates with the Virgin Sport San Francisco Half Marathon on October 15th. This will be my 13th half marathon (woohoo!), and my goal is to PR.

I was lax in training for my last two races, which I’m totally okay with. Priorities shift and life happens. However, after cocooning away this weekend, I knew by yesterday afternoon that I was ready and motivated to kick up my training for this upcoming half.

A PR for me will involve training not only hard, but smart, resting mucho, and prioritizing good nutrition. To help with this, I’ll be sticking to my training plan as best as I can (I promise to not forget you, hill runs!), avoiding alcohol (I’ll miss you, wine!), and experimenting with carb cycling.

My Carb Cycling Plan

Put simply, carb cycling is eating more carbohydrates on some days, and less on other days. I’ll be eating more carbs on days where I’ll need the extra energy (i.e. HIIT workouts and long runs), and fewer carbs on days where I’m resting or doing something light, like a recovery jog. I’m starting this cycle with three “lower carb” days, three “medium carb” days, and one “high carb” day and will re-examine and potentially tweak it after a few weeks.

I’ve never played with my carb ratios like this before, so it’ll be exciting to track my energy levels and see how it affects my training.

I’ll also be prioritizing nutrient-dense foods throughout training. My starchy mainstays will be regular potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas and other fruits, gluten-free oats, and some rice, and I’ll still be loading my plates with lots of greens and other veggies, in addition to protein and healthy fats.

My 8 Week Half Marathon Training Schedule

As for my training schedule, the plan is to train six days each week, but to always listen to my body and rest if more downtime is needed.

My primary focus for cross training days is to strengthen my glutes, quads, and hamstrings, and I will also be striving to improve my mobility, especially in the hips, as much as possible.

Weekly Plan

Monday: Speedwork

Tuesday: Cross Training (Strength-Focused)

Wednesday: HIIT Workout

Thursday: Hill Run

Friday: Cross Training (Strength-Focused)

Saturday: Long Run

Sunday: Rest/Yoga

New to training for a half? Check out my Top 10 Tips for Training for a Half Marathon.

*No information on this site should be relied upon to determine diet, make a medical diagnosis, or determine treatment for a medical condition. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended as medical advice.

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Essential Running Gear for Half Marathon Training

Essential running gear includes Takeya water bottle, shower pill body wipes, momentum jewelry wraps, SPIbelt, my apple watch, energy gels, sunglasses Nuun Energy, and my Apple EarPods

When it comes to half marathon training, the most important thing you can do for yourself is buy a pair of running shoes that fit you well and that are right for your run. But besides some good kicks, there are so many other pieces of essential running gear out there that can benefit you before, during, and after your run.

As a running newbie, I was hesitant to invest in many training accessories, as I never really knew when I’d get sick of the whole running thing. But after completing my first half marathon, I could no longer deny that the running bug had bit me hard. I soon found myself spending hours wandering the aisles of my local running and sporting goods stores, and spending my hard earned cash on moisture wicking running socks and foam rollers.

And as I trained for half marathon after half marathon, I learned that buying the right pieces to help you prepare for, endure, and recover from a longer training run were key to better and happier performance.

Now, when I pack my bag or get ready before heading out the door to put in some mileage, I make sure to bring a few pieces of essential running gear so that I can thrive while training.

Headphones

When I run by myself or hit the treadmill, a good playlist is everything. My Apple EarPods work well for the shape of my ears and allow me to listen to the beats that keep me moving for miles.

Insulated Water Bottle

If I drive to a trailhead for a run, I always keep this Takeya Insulated Stainless Steel bottle (filled with water, of course) in the car to sip on pre-run and enjoy post-run when hydration is critical. It keeps my water cold for hours and hours, so even if it the bottle sits in a hot car for two or more hours, your precious water will remain just as cool and crisp as when you filled it.

ShowerPill Body Wipes

These body wipes are literally my favorite thing ever. If you’re a girl (or dude) on the go, with a full day’s worth of plans after a long Saturday morning run, use one of these bad boys in lieu of a full shower and you’ll feel fresh as can be. The wipes themselves are super durable, large in size, and kill stinky germs without feeling too harsh on my skin.

Momentum Motivate Wraps

Okay, so Momentum Motivate Wraps aren’t necessarily “essential” for every runner, but I love wearing them when I run a longer distance and fatigue or mental exhaustion is likely. All I have to do is look down at my wrist and she “she is strong” to keep killing my run and make it to the end with confidence.

Running Belt

For years I ran with my iPhone in my hand. But then I bought a SPIbelt, started placing it in the zippered pouch instead, and my life changed. I found out that I could run so much more efficiently without my stride being hindered by holding a phone. Plus, this nifty piece of running gear can also carry my ID, keys, or anything else. The best part? It really does stay put and doesn’t bother me one bit while running.

Energy Gels

Okay, okay, I normally don’t advocate for ingesting packets of sugar. But when running double digit distances, I always have one of these at some point in the run for carbohydrate supplementation. I’ve trained for a half marathon on a Whole30, opting for mushed up banana instead, but, for me, energy gels are the most convenient way to deliver glycogen while running longer distances.

Fitness Tracker/Smart Watch

I use the Nike+ Running App on my Apple Watch to track my mileage. While the app can be glitchy, it’s just so easy to look down at my watch and see my distance, pace, and run time, and I use it for every single run.

Sunglasses

If you’re going to be outside in the sun for a while, protect your skin with sunscreen and your eyes with a pair of sunglasses. I got mine for free after running a 10K, but I love them because they stay on my face while running and my bank account won’t shed a tear if I ever lose or break them.

Nuun Energy

When I’m kinda lagging on energy, I pop a Nuun Energy tablet into my water. These guys have electrolytes and caffeine, are great for alleviating post-run cramps, and they don’t taste overly sugary. My favorite flavor is Cherry Limeade.

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