March 8, 2010


Posted in Uncategorized at 12:12 pm by savorencyclopedia

Sexy Latin dance moves.  High energy music.  Potential for lots of fun.  It would have been nice to have an instructor with a dynamic personality to bring passion into this workout! Instead the instructor didn’t even give any verbal cues about the upcoming moves.  It was disappointing.  The moves were simple enough to catch onto after a few segments, but it felt awkward to take an exercise class where the instructor didn’t say a word.

It was obvious that the instructor was painfully shy.  Saturday morning my gym offered a demo of Zumba classes directly after their routine Step class.  A large crowd of steppers stayed to participate and I timed my run for the day so that I could join afterward.  So I understand why she might have been nervous with such a large crowd.  There were over 30 people and barely enough room for all of us on the floor.   But if you are too intimidated to even give a brief overview of what Zumba is or preview some of the moves, maybe you shouldn’t be teaching Zumba classes.

After the 20 minute demo, I was curious if this was the philosophy of the Zumba classes in general to be mute during the workout or if it was just this particular instructor.  I found a segment on the Today Show from a couple of years ago on YouTube that showed the founder of the company and a few other instructors showing some audience members their moves.  They were giving verbal, as well as visual, cues to the participants.

With as much fun as I honestly had (I mean, it still was Latin dancing… I was destined to love it!), I am hesitant to return to the regular classes.  It was easy enough for me to catch onto the moves and I did work up a substantial sweat, although I’m not sure if that was because I had just finished running right before the class.  The instructor was very sweet and I’m sure she was absolutely a nice person.  I just had a difficult time attending a class where no actual instruction was given.  It felt so awkward to simply follow along.  I guess I will just see how well the schedule fits in with my running and decide from there. It was just disappointing as I had heard about Zumba in the past and been jealous that the closest class to me was over half an hour away.  Now that my gym was offering it, I wasn’t nearly as impressed as I had anticipated.  I will certainly give it another shot and see how I enjoy a full hour class.  Here’s hoping that the full class is a more satisfying experience than the demo!

March 5, 2010


Posted in Running at 1:26 am by savorencyclopedia

I can not think of a time in my life when I have had to actively think about my breathing.  It seems so odd to me to literally think “breath in through my nose and out through my mouth” as I run!  Yet I know this is the proper way to breath when you run and it doesn’t come naturally to me.

Getting the breathing down has been quite a process for me.  It definitely makes me appreciate all of the things my body does for me that I never consider.  Tonight the breathing finally seemed to click and make my run go smoothly! I hope it lasts!  I’ve definitely noticed a difference in my lung capacity and with continuous awareness of my breathing at this point, I hope it will become natural soon and I won’t have to even think about breathing while I run.

I intended to continue with my week 4 running this week, but when I looked at the times for week 5 day 1 I decided that I could push myself and do it.  I am so glad that I did!  I made it through the run and felt great about pushing myself afterwards.  I began to feel how when the strides and breathing fall into place, my run will be amazing.  I have enjoyed the process so far, but I certainly wouldn’t say it has been easy for me.  I hope that small things like this keep clicking into place and things become easier.  Every time something like this happens, I feel a bit more like a runner.

March 4, 2010

Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

Posted in Running at 7:50 pm by savorencyclopedia

Who would have imagined that I would be followed by my newfound goal of running while on vacation?  That’s exactly what happened when I traveled to New Orleans and I took it as validation for what I am trying to accomplish!  The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon took place on Sunday, February 28. By sheer coincidence, I was vacationing there that very weekend.  Although I was treating this weekend as a chance for bacchanalia, I saw it as a positive sign that my new goal was following me even on my weekend off.


I was inundated with marathon signals throughout my weekend.  Even as I boarded the plane Friday afternoon, I noticed a couple of men already on the plane intently reading the magazine Runner’s World while sporting Chicago Marathon attire.  At this point, I made note of the connection, but was unaware of the actual marathon taking place in NOLA that weekend.  I almost felt compelled to strike up a conversation with them about my new goal, but decided that even I wasn’t so bold as to hold up aisle traffic on the airplane to chat. My status as a novice runner also made me more hesitant to discuss the subject; what if my utter lack of knowledge or skill was apparent after the first sentence out of my mouth?  I could not face such humiliation. I was happy with the small sign of validation and was content to move forward with my weekend.


On the shuttle from the airport to our hotel, I sat next to a woman who was running the half marathon.  From that point on, I was aware of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and the signs could not have been more blatant throughout the rest of the weekend!  They may seem small but for me, someone who needs constant motivation to continue working out, it was as if someone was whispering to me not to forget my goals.

Sunday morning the restaurant at the hotel was serving breakfast to multiple tables of runners.  They were discussing their experiences and as it was late in the morning/early afternoon there were not many other patrons for breakfast.  It was hard not to hear some of their conversations.  I couldn’t even imagine the pride they must have felt after finishing, but they were very nonchalant about these accomplishments. Many of them were more focused on the partying aspect of the Marathon (which I imagine is fun, but don’t think I could focus on while running.  Breathing would be my only concern!) I guess for some people, once you start running often it is no big deal to finish a half marathon.  I can’t conceive of the notion, but clearly it exists.  As we returned to our room after breakfast, the elevators were not working.  An unfortunate couple was forced to walk up many flights of stairs to their room after completing the marathon.  My body literally ached for them.  Ouch.

That same afternoon, while waiting for the streetcar to take us to the Garden District, I noticed legions of marathoners out and about, proudly still wearing their numbers or changed into their Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon t-shirts.  They all looked so happy and surprisingly mobile.  I would assume standing upright would be worth celebrating at that point!  There were also many runners eating at the diner we stopped in later in the day.  I can only imagine how satisfying a plump, juicy burger must have been for those particular diners. 

Although I never expected to have clear reminders of the workouts I was missing during my trip, there they were, motivating me to get right back at it!  And it worked!  My first day back I was on the treadmill running.  The second day back I was inspired to workout lightly on my rest day, so I walked on the treadmill and then kicked it up a notch on the stair-climber.  Tonight I am back to running again, trying to close the gap on what should be my recovery time at this point and what actually is. Maybe one day I will run a Marathon in the Big Easy.   Any city will do, but if I’m going to go for it I might as well dream big!  Thank you New Orleans!

Scale Fail

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:29 am by savorencyclopedia

I knew it was coming.  I was prepared.  A gain on the scale.  But I still cringed.  I was hoping, by some small miracle, that even though I ate (and drank!) with abandon all weekend, there was some small possibility that I would simply stay the same on the scale.  Realistically I knew it wasn’t going to happen, but a girl can always hope, right?

The funny thing was, I didn’t need any mental regrouping after I saw the number.  I felt good about getting back into the swing of things right away after my vacation.  I refused to feel guilty about the gain and beat myself up.  I was proud that I tracked all of the food I ate in my food journal and moved on.  The numbers were frightening to see, but they gave me some sense of accountability for the weekend.  (There was no possible way to estimate how many calories were consumed by drinking; I chalked Bourbon Street up as one of the few exceptions to my journaling rules.)

I look forward to seeing the number on the scale next week.  I can only hope that the weight comes off as easily as it went on in seven days (everyone knows that never happens!)

March 3, 2010


Posted in Healthy Eating, Running at 2:48 am by savorencyclopedia

Today was my first day back from vacation.  And I still worked out!!  For many people, this may not be a big deal, but for me it is a huge accomplishment!  I wanted to ease back into things because it’s been almost a week since my last run, so I attempted to run the same time frames as I stopped with last week and…

I did it!!!  I still ran two sets of three and five minute intervals!  I typically use the stair climber after running for 20-30 minutes, but tonight I simply ran/walked.  I want to prevent injuries, so I just wanted to test the waters tonight and see what I was capable of doing after almost a week off.  It was a pleasant surprise.

I even switched right back into healthy eating mode seamlessly.  Proof:  yesterday while traveling I ate well.  Yogurt smoothie for breakfast at the airport, Clif Bar for lunch while on the plane and a turkey sub and Sunchips for dinner in the car.  Not many vegetables, but still better than I would have eaten in the past.  I didn’t use traveling as an excuse to eat poorly!  I got all my servings of vegetables in today and I plan on going grocery shopping to stock up on healthy items tomorrow after work.  This is progress for me!

February 22, 2010

Chain Restaurants

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:11 am by savorencyclopedia

I do not eat out often.  Proximity to chain restaurants, along with the cost of eating out frequently are major factors in this decision.  In that regard, I am lucky.  When I lived near chain restaurants, there was always the temptation to grab a quick and easy meal simply by hopping in the car and driving to the nearest location.  That temptation is much easier to resist when I have to drive at least 15 miles to the nearest chain.  Suddenly the quick and easy part are not so valid.

For the rare occasion when I do eat out, I like to research the dishes and find the best options.  I like to have a few meals in mind (along with their nutritional values) before I step foot through their door.

Here are some of my picks for some basic chain restaurants.

Subway (Nutritional Info)

6” Turkey on wheat bread with provolone cheese and veggies

6” Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki on wheat with American cheese and veggies

6” Oven Roasted Turkey Breast on wheat with shredded Monterey jack cheese with veggies

Baked Chips, Apples or Yogurt

McDonalds (Nutritional Info)

Southwest Salad with grilled chicken

Culver’s (Nutritional Info)

Cheeseburger Kid’s Meal (smaller portions go a long way)

Wendy’s (Nutritional Info)

Side salad with any low-cal dressing


Baked Potato

Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Olive Garden (Nutritional Info)

Salad (ask for low-fat dressing)

Capellini Pomodoro with grilled chicken

Venetian Apricot Chicken

Applebee’s (They do not offer their nutritional info online)

These items are on the 550 calories or less menu

Asian Crunch Salad

Spicy Shrimp Diavolo

Grilled Shrimp and Island Rice

Chili’s (Nutritional Info)

Caribbean Salad

Asian Salad

Salmon with Garlic & Herbs

TGIF (They do not offer their nutritional info online)

Dragonfire Chicken

Shrimp Keywest

This is clearly a very limited list.  I often just google the restaurant’s nutritional information.  If they do not offer the info online, there are a few websites that I have found to be helpful, Dietfacts and Calorie King.

The Big Salad

Posted in Healthy Eating at 12:42 am by savorencyclopedia

Years ago I discovered a gem of a salad.  Chili’s made a version.  McDonald’s later made a version.  Applebee’s now has their own spin on it.  It was so long ago that it’s hard for me to remember where I first tasted this gorgeous salad.  But now I prefer my own homemade “big salad,” as Elaine on Seinfeld would say. The best part is that I control the ingredients so I know that it is full of fresh vegetables and grilled chicken.

Start with lots of greens.  Any kinds.  Romaine, green leaf, red leaf, bib, iceberg, Boston, cos; any lettuce will suffice.   Add any other vegetables you enjoy in a salad.  I love carrots, red cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, or any combination thereof.  Mandarin oranges are a must.  If you want to throw in other fruits, go for it!  Strawberries or grapes are especially delicious in this salad.  Grilled chicken breast that has been chilled and cut into bite sized pieces should be tossed in for good measure.  A pinch of sliced almonds tops it off.  I like to use either Kraft Light Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing or Newman’s Own Lighten Up Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing.

However you eat your own version of the “big salad,” never take credit for the payment of said salad unless you want to find yourself in your own version of the sitcom about nothing.

February 21, 2010

Homemade Energy Bars

Posted in Healthy Eating at 9:11 pm by savorencyclopedia

My dependency on processed foods has just diminished slightly!  I recently made my first (but definitely not last!) batch of homemade energy bars.  I found this amazing recipe on The Cooking Hussy and loved every bite! They are very similar to Lara Bars.  The recipe I followed was for the Cherry Almond flavor, but there are many variations that can be found at Enlightened Cooking.  I am officially kicking Fiber Plus bars to the curb as my busy morning breakfast.  Hello Cherry Almond Energy Bars!

Who wants to pay a couple of bucks for an energy bar?  I have a few times in the past, just to check them out, but at that price there is no way they would ever become a staple in my diet.  This recipe, however, makes them as affordable as they are delicious.

As I was searching for the ingredients, the woman who worked at the grocery store was curious about what I was going to prepare.  She was super sweet and directed me to the various places in the store that they carried dried fruits and whole nuts.  If I had known the recipe by heart (and that they would turn out so well), I would have shared it with her on the spot.  Instead, I hope to bump into her again so I can share this simple, wonderful recipe.  Yes, they are so good that you will want to share the secret with everyone you come in contact with!

Mine did not look as lovely as the ones pictured with the recipe.  I think I processed the dried cherries and dates too long, as there were no chunks of fruit in mine.  It was just a dark brown paste.  Also, I used sliced almonds instead of whole almonds, which didn’t allow for the cute little square chunks seen on the picture at The Cooking Hussy.  At least, I am assuming these are the reasons mine did not look like the picture.  I shall find out for sure next time I make them.  Next flavor up:  Tropical.

Is it bad that although I’ve already had one today, I now want to eat another?  I won’t, but I want to!

New Cravings

Posted in Healthy Eating at 8:26 pm by savorencyclopedia

I have been craving vegetables lately.  Yes, you heard me correctly!  It is amazing how quickly eating healthy foods can change your tastebuds.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love a good bowl of ice cream or slice of pizza; that will probably never change.  But I am actually craving delicious, healthfully prepared meals.

This weekend I have made basically the same meal every day.  I picked up some wonderful zucchini the other night (both green and yellow) along with some asparagus.  I have been slicing them up and sautéing them in extra virgin olive oil with some garlic, basil, salt and pepper each day.  Friday night I added some penne pasta, but the rest of the weekend I just sautéed the veggies.

Mashed cauliflower proved to be the perfect companion to the sautéed veggies.  I sliced a small red potato into cubes and along with about one cup of fresh cauliflower.  I covered them with water and boiled for about 10-15 minutes until they were tender.  I always salt the water when boiling just about anything.  Then in a mini-blender, I combined one cube of light Laughing Cow swiss wedge, a dash of milk, garlic, salt, pepper and the cooked potato and cauliflower.  I like mine with chunks of potato, so I didn’t blend them too long.  It makes a large and satisfying serving of mashed cauliflower/potatoes.  Delicious!

Sunday Morning Workout

Posted in Running at 8:07 pm by savorencyclopedia

Today was my first morning workout since I started my routine at the beginning of January.  I am not a morning person.  I want to run tomorrow night after work, though, so I figured if I did a run this morning it would be almost like having a rest day in between.  Usually when I workout on the weekends, the gym is fairly empty.  I was looking forward to some solace while working out today.

Well, apparently, Sunday mornings are hopping!  Almost every treadmill was being used as well as the stair climbers and elliptical machines.  I must admit that I was impressed that there were so many people working out this early on a Sunday (10:00 is early for me on a Sunday!)  Honestly, I was also a bit disappointed to not have the cardio room to myself, as I had expected.

Many of the cardio machines overlook the basketball courts at the gym.  This morning I was treated to entertainment in the form of a league basketball game while working out.  Some students from my school were even playing. I wanted to go talk to some of the parents I saw, but unfortunately by the time I was finished I was disgustingly sweaty and my face was beet red.

Week 5 of the C25K has been challenging for me.  The training calls for:

5 minute warm-up

3 minutes running

1:30 walking

5 minutes running

2:30 walking

3 minutes running

1:30 walking

5 minutes running

5 minute cool down

Previously, I have had to break down the last 5 minute run into two 2:30 runs with a 2 minute walking recovery in between.  I could not pinpoint why this week’s runs were more difficult for me, but it was tough!  I came to the realization this morning that it was not the distance or amount of time that I have been running in Week 5 that was causing me difficulties.  It was the substantially smaller recovery/walk times in between.

Today I gave myself 2 minutes to recover after the 3 minute runs and 4 minutes to recover after the 5 minute runs.  I was able to run an extra set of 3 and 5 minute runs!!  What a great feeling!  I did my usually stair climbing set after running and by the time I left at 11:30, there were only two other people working out in the cardio room.  Note to self:  I can sleep in a bit if I want to workout on Sunday mornings.  It is much less crowded after 11:00.

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