Pumpkin Smoothie

Brain Food – Pumpkin Smoothie

It’s officially fall, which means everything pumpkin flavored must make an appearance. Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Pumpkin bagels, Pumpkin Pie, all the pumpkins!

While we love them all, the downside to many of our favorite pumpkin treats is that they don’t score particularly high on the healthy meter. No worries though, there are healthier ways to get your pumpkin fix! A new addition to my morning line up is an awesome pumpkin smoothie. Made with raw pumpkin and other natural ingredients, it is a perfect fall touch for your breakfast routine. The fact that it takes less than 5 minutes to prepare is an added bonus.

I adapted this recipe from Corey over at Family Fresh Meals; check out the link for her original recipe. If you like your smoothies a little sweeter, her full tablespoon of honey may work better than my teaspoon.

So how do you make this delicious creation?

1/2 cup of pumpkin (actual pumpkin not pumpkin pie filling)

1 cup milk ( I used skim, you could swap for almond)

1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (I added a touch more)

1 teaspoon honey

1 medium banana frozen (If you only have fresh Corey recommended a few ice cubes to get the smoothie really cold)

Add all of the ingredients in the blender. I like to put the frozen banana at the bottom so it blends quickly. Blend until smooth and delicious!

Each smoothie is 251 calories with 55g carbohydrates, 11g protein, and .6g fat.

You could placate all of your pumpkin cravings with this smoothie, but delicious as it is, I wouldn’t trade pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving for it. Everything in moderation! This will however, allow you to get your pumpkin fix more frequently.

 

Best,

Katherine

 

 

Staying Fit In Grad School

Staying Fit In Grad School

Going back to school means that there is an essential reorganization of priorities that needs to happen. Homework rises to the top, social life tends to drop a few positions, Wine Wednesday ranks higher or lower depending on the week. With this reorganization there are causalities, some of which are things that should really remain high on the priority list. Sleep is the big one, but health and fitness is another that often gets overlooked when our schedules fill up. Fitness may seem like an item that can fall off the priority list for a while, but in reality it is a major contributor to maintaining health and balance during grad school. Since grad students can generally use all the help they can get to keep things in balance, here are six tips for staying fit in grad school:

 

Make Healthy A Priority

The first step to staying fit in grad school is to commit. You have to not only decide that you want to stay fit (or get fit), you have to commit to sticking with it even on the days that you don’t want to. We each have our own ways of making ourselves commit, whether that be a reward system, an accountability buddy, or sheer will power. Whatever your tactic is, kick it into high gear.

Have A Schedule

Sticking with a commitment becomes easier when you build it into your schedule. Plan for when you want to workout and then put it on your schedule. Blocking off specific time helps limit the amount of things that interrupt, distract, or dissuade you from working out. If you know you are prone to finding excuses after work, set your alarm a half hour to a hour earlier and get your workout in in the morning. Getting out of bed may be tough, but once you’re up you’ll be proud you got your workout in.

Pick A Routine

Some of us are fine to make up a workout as we go, others prefer a more structured approach. If you are one of the latter, do your research and find a program that fits your pace. You can choose a paid program, which for some may provide the extra motivation to stick with it, DVDs, or go the route of one of the various online trainers who post free content and workouts. If there are several that look interesting, try them all out and find which ones you like. Regularly changing your workout keeps your body guessing and prevents plateaus. Keep this in mind as you choose or design your workout routine.

Push Through

There will be days when the last thing you want to do is go for a run after work or drag yourself out of bed an hour early. When those days hit, don’t give in! Sitting on the couch or hitting snooze may feel awesome at first, but getting up and sticking to your goal will feel even better. The couch will be waiting for you when you’re done.

But Know Your Limits

Maintaining your motivation and pushing through is great, but you also need to be mindful of burn out or injuries. If you only got 5 hours of sleep the night before and are dead on your feet, skip the run and go to bed. Motivation is admirable, but pushing too hard can do more damage than good.

Get Enough Sleep

This may seem like a separate issue from staying fit, but it is actually closely linked. Sleep allows your body to heal and strengthen itself between workouts. When you don’t get enough sleep, your workouts become less effective and the risk of injury increases. Lack of sleep can also lead to an increase in the hormone cortisol, which can lead to weight gain.

Grad school is tough and it can come with some high costs, but your health and fitness do not need to be among them. Do you have any other tips for staying fit during grad school?

Commit to happy and healthy!

staying fit

 

Best,

Katherine

Blueberry Spinach Smoothie

Brain Food – Blueberry Spinach Smoothie

Whether you’re looking for a healthy meal on the go or a refreshing way to get your fruits and veggies, smoothies are a nutritious and delicious answer.

This is a recipe that started as an experiment and resulted in a breakfast I could be proud of. With no added sugar or processed ingredients, it is as good for you as it is delicious.

Blueberry Spinach Smoothie

Blueberry Spinach Smoothie

-2 Cups Spinach

-1 Cup Blueberries

-1 Banana

-1 Cup Skim Milk

Instructions

Add all ingredients to blender and blend on high until desired consistency. I chose to use a frozen banana and fresh blueberries that I had previously frozen. If you prefer soy or almond milk it could be swapped for the skim milk.

 

Cheers!

 

What is Quark, Elli Quark Flavors

Brain Food – What is Quark?

There are some foods that we come to recognize as staples in our quest for a healthy lifestyle. Among the staples you will find in my house are plenty of fruits and veggies, granola, and greek yogurt. I have mentioned before that the fact that granola and yogurt are staples for me is ironic given that I greatly disliked both for the longest time. However, as I have grown up my tastes have evolved. I was never one to shy away from trying new foods and that has not changed as I have gotten older. In fact, I recently came across another food that will likely be making its way into my  rotation. A few months back a group of friends and I decided to take on the Tone it Up Bikini Series. In addition to the daily workouts, founders Karena and Katrina regularly post videos about healthy eating and recipes for their fans to try out. One of the videos that I watched mentioned a brand called Elli Quark. At first I thought that this was another brand of yogurt. The brand comes in 6oz containers that resemble your typical yogurt cup and at first glance it looks like yogurt. However, quark is in fact cheese. A common dairy dish in many European countries, quark’s value proposition over greek yogurt is its higher protein to carb ratio (quark has 15% more protein), lower calorie count, and no added or artificial sweeteners.  Now I will admit, as I perused the Elli Quark site, the phrase “spoonable cheese” did not do much in the way of making me crave the product. While I recognize that cottage cheese is also a spoonable cheese, there was something about a cheese with the texture of yogurt that I couldn’t quite wrap my head around. None the less, I was curious, and so I decided to find it and try it.

Elli Quark Flavors

The store near me currently carries three flavors, strawberry, lemon, anElli Quark Strawberry 1d red velvet. I was surprised to see them retail at $3/cup, but the market I purchased from is known for higher prices. First up on the trial list was strawberry. Opening the container, it would be nearly impossible for someone to identify it as cheese without knowing what it was. Quark is very similar to greek yogurt both in appearance and texture. I would compare it to a cross between greek yogurt and a whipped style yogurt, creamy but a little fluffier than greek yogurt. I expected a texture and flavor more akin to a spreadable cheese like Laughing Cow, but was pleasantly surprised to find that there was little difference from the flavored greek yogurts I have tried. Elli Quark claims that their product has a less sour taste than greek yogurt, but as I usually eat plain greek yogurt and was trying a flavored quark, that comparison is difficult to make. The 6oz cup left me feeling satisfied and without any kind of after taste, which was an added bonus.

Next up was the Red Velvet. While this was also very tasty, it was a little rich for breakfast. It would however, be the perfect evening treat after a long day. It is sweet enough to feel like a dessert but healthy enough to remove any guilt associated with a sweet treat. I am tempted to stick a cup in the freezer for a few minutes to get it extra cold the next time I have an ice cream craving.

Finally, the lemon flavor. This was my least favorite of the three. The tart flavor reminded me a bit of a lemon cheesecake, but without some of the richness to lessen the bite of the lemon. If it was available I would eat it again, but given options I would lean towards the strawberry.

Elli Quark has a whole host of other flavors including blueberry, mint chocolate, and plain. While I’ll probably skip the bananas foster flavor, I’ll be interested to try some of the variations.

So there you have it, the new kid on the healthy alternatives block. Let me know if you’ve tried quark and what flavors I should try next!

 

Best,

Katherine

 

Tomatoes and Basil - healthy eating

Brain Food – 3 Quick, Healthy Recipes for Students on the Go

Eating healthy: a goal of many with good intentions that is often a causality of busy schedules.

When we were in undergrad, most of us maintained a diet with a large dose of pizza, chicken strips, Easy Mac, and fast food. This is partially because all of these were readily available and didn’t require us to cook (especially when you lived in a dorm), but also because at that age food choices often seem like they’ll never catch up to you.  Fast forward a few years and many find that this is in fact not the case. Eating pizza four nights a week may be easy and lets be honest delicious, but it does you no favors in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. As we get older, the importance of a healthy lifestyle becomes more apparent, but our busy schedules can make it difficult to translate good intentions into action, particularly when it comes to food. Long days at the office followed by hours of class time or grad school homework make a quick stop at Qdoba or the frozen food section of the store much more appealing than spending time cooking. Even for someone like me who loves to cook, a quick fix is sometimes a necessity. Luckily, there are plenty of recipes out there that are quick, easy, and healthy. These are a few of my favorites that I regularly make.

 

  1. Breakfast – Honey Vanilla Granola with Greek Yogurt – Found on Pinterest c/o Southern In Law homemade honey vanilla granola
    • Tasty and versatile, granola is great with milk, on top of yogurt, or as a snack on the go. I like this recipe because it’s sweet from the honey but doesn’t add much extra sugar. The recipe doesn’t call for it, but it is also good if you add some cinnamon to it.
    • Cook Time – 45-55 min including prep depending on your oven and how crunchy you like your granola
  2. Lunch – Quinoa Bowls – Katherine’s ownHealthy Living Meal Prep
    • Quinoa has gotten attention in the last couple years as a “supergrain,” full of fiber and protein. I can’t speak to its status as a superfood, but I can say it makes a great base for a tasty meal. I like to make a couple bowls during meal prep on Sundays to use throughout the week. Two of my favorites are an asian inspired chicken and broccoli and my own take on a Qdoba burrito bowl. The quinoa takes 15-20 minutes to cook, giving me time to cook my veggies and meat. For the asian twist, I add garlic, broccoli, and mushrooms with soy sauce to a skillet and cook until soft. I generally add the garlic and broccoli first and then add the mushrooms and soy sauce since the broccoli takes longer to cook. For the last few minutes I will add the chicken so it soaks up some soy sauce. That mixture is added on top of the portioned out quinoa and then topped with some sesame seeds and additional soy sauce to taste. This is a great dish to make on meal prep days as it reheats well and keeps for a few days in the fridge.
    • Cook Time – 25 minutes including prep
  3. Dinner  – Caprese Chicken Bake – Found on Pinterest c/o The Novice Chefcaprese chicken
    • This has become a favorite at my house. Healthy and delicious, this meal is ready in under a half hour and makes for great leftovers. I’ve stuck pretty closely to the recipe created by The Novice Chef, but instead of cooking the chicken in the skillet I prefer to bake it at 400° for 20 minutes. I start the tomato basil skillet with about 10 minutes left on the oven timer and then add the chicken to the same skillet to melt the cheese. Don’t forget to drizzle the baslsamic vinegar on top, it really makes the dish.
    • Cook Time – 30 minutes

 

Be sure to check back for more healthy options as well as some fun treats. I’ll be sharing recipes I find as well as the ones I make up. If you have a go to recipe let me know! I love trying new recipes!

 

Best,

Katherine

Pinterest success, strawberry basil avocado toast

Brain Food – Breakfast Favorites

It’s a well known fact that breakfast is an important part of the day; many even argue that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. However, when I was growling up breakfast was not a regular part of my routine. Waking up before dawn to jump into a cold pool was a rough way to start the day without adding extra time to find and consume breakfast. Even through college when I was no longer getting up for 5am practice, breakfast was not a priority for me. I was picky about breakfast food, not enjoying many of the quick go-tos such as yogurt and granola, and preferring to have a snack or wait until lunch. Fast forward a few years and I have changed my stance. Especially on mornings when I work out before work, breakfast is a game changer. My tastes have also evolved to include many of those breakfast staples that I previously scorned. A close family member is still waiting for the day that I add shredded wheat to my rotation, but I haven’t tried it yet. I do however, have several breakfast favorites that fit nicely into my busy schedule. These are easy to prepare in the morning or ahead of time and allow for a wide range of variations to keep your breakfast rotation interesting.

Egg Muffins

egg muffin

Perfect to add to your Sunday meal prep, these healthy, protein packed muffins are easy to make and will keep for up to a week. Choose your favorite fillings, I like broccoli and mushrooms, prep your muffin tins, and bake at 375°. In little time (about 18 minutes) you have a week’s worth of quick and healthy breakfasts. They are also great as a snack or post workout fuel. 8 eggs make 12 muffins. Fill the muffin tins about 2/3 of the way with your fillings and then top with 2-3 tablespoons of egg. For more specific instructions, I like this recipe.

Avocado Toast 

avocado toast
This was a staple in every foodie and lifestyle blog in 2015, and there is a reason why. Not only does it require very little prep, but with healthy fats, filling carbs, and low sugar, avocados are a delicious way to start the morning. You can stick with the basic avocado on toast (or english muffins!), or fancy it up with strawberries and/or balsamic vinegar. If you are looking for something a little heartier, this simple meal becomes a protein loaded breakfast sandwich when grilled chicken is added.

 

 

 

Granola

homemade honey vanilla granola

As I have said before, granola did not used to be a favorite of mine, but is now regularly represented in my breakfast line up. I like to make my own during my Sunday meal prep but you can purchase pre made if you prefer. While I will munch on plain granola as a snack,  for breakfast I prefer to give it a little more substance, usually in the form of milk or greek yogurt. I mix a 1/2 cup of granola with 3/4 – 1 cup of greek yogurt, making sure that the yogurt does not overpower the granola.

 

What are your breakfast favorites? Do you prep ahead or cook in the morning?

 

Best,

Katherine

 

Healthy Snack, Apple

Brain Food – 5 Healthy Snacks for Students on the Go

Life on the go can be a hectic ride, leaving little time to finish homework, let alone squeeze in a healthy meal or snack. It is all too easy to grab a candy bar or a bag of chips when you’re on the move and hungry. However, eating on the go does not have to undo your healthy eating habits. There are plenty of snacks that are healthy, satisfying, and portable. These are a few of my favorites.

  1. Apples – Fruit in general is a great snack to have, but many fruits can be difficult to efficiently travel with. Bananas are a favorite of mine but often get squished or bruised in transit.Berries are another favorite but have to be carried in a container that  I am then stuck with for the rest of the day. Apples on the other hand, are hearty enough to survive a ride in a bag and offer all the benefits of other fruits, plus the ability to wake you up without a 2:30pm dose of caffeine due to the natural sugars they carry.
  2. Nuts – I used to hate nuts, there was something about the texture that I couldn’t Nuts, Healthy Snacks, Almonds, Cashews, Peanutshandle. Recently though, they have become not only an option but a favorite in my snack rotation. While they come in with a higher calorie count than other options, nuts are a great source of protein and fiber as well as the good fats your body needs. A serving of nuts will also keep you feeling fuller for longer than that bag of chips you are eying. Grab the snack sized packages or add pre-portioning nuts from a larger container to your meal prep days to have a portable, filling, and healthy snack with you at all times. Make sure to go for the plain or lightly salted and avoid the candied variety to get the nutrition without the extra calories. My current favorite are cashews, though almonds and pistachios also hit the spot.
  3. Granola – Another food that used to be a no for me, granola has become a regular staple. The healthy factor for granola is dependent on making or choosing types that don’t have a lot of extra sugar, but once you find varieties that fit your tastes they are great for munching on the go. Throw a serving into a ziplock bag and snack at your leisure. Another added bonus, small bags of granola take up very little space in bags already loaded down with books and laptops. If you prefer bars to loose granola, options like KIND or homemade recipes (I plan on trying this one) work too.
  4. Fresh Veggies – Getting your veggies is an important part of a healthy diet and many of us struggle with getting enough. Veggies don’t just have to be side dishes or salads though; carrots, cucumbers, green beans, and even broccoli or cauliflower (if you can eat them dry) are easy to pre-cut and keep in small containers or bags for on the go snacking. If you need more flavor for your veggies, hummus is a great dip or spread, just be sure to watch your serving size. Odd sounding, but surprisingly delicious is carrots and peanut butter. I thought it sounded weird when I saw it on Blogilates, but it is now a regular post workout snack for me. If you try it, be sure to let me know what you think.
  5. Popcorn – Not the movie theater type, but air popped and even some brands popped in better for you oils are portable alternatives to vending machine fare. You can pop at home (here’s a recipe for homemade olive oil and parmesan popcorn)  or buy at the store. Before you buy, check out the nutritional labels to make sure you aren’t picking up varieties loaded with sugar and extra sodium. I like SkinnyPop (popped in sunflower oil) but will likely try popping at home sometime soon. Stay tuned for the results of that.

What are you favorite on the go snacks? Do you have any good recipes to share?

 

Happy snacking!

Best,

Katherine

 

*I am not a nutritionist by trade, these are my suggestions based on experience and basic healthy eating knowledge.

@tcukerfluff, break from grad school

Fri-YAY and Rest Day

TGIF!

Whew what a week. While productive weeks like this one tend to go faster, they also take a lot out of you. This week was probably one of my hardest in terms of motivating myself to study. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the fact that my Accounting class is online with only the midterm and final as grades and the material is not currently difficult, it can be easy to push it off. I’ve been able to force myself back into school mode but I should probably spend some extra time this weekend going back over the material to make sure I actually absorbed it. There was more than one instance when I was reading about Process and Activity Based Costing and after finishing a page I wasn’t sure I could tell you anything I just read.

This brings me to what I want to talk about today: rest days. They may seem like a luxury that you don’t have time for in your busy schedule but the truth is that they are a necessity in keeping you healthy and productive. I am just as guilty as anyone else in skimping on rest days and pushing myself too hard, both in fitness and in carrying out my work and school responsibilities.

On the fitness side, I have been lucky enough to not seriously injure myself as a result of pushing too hard. I have however experienced more than one instance of knots and inflammation in my muscles. Not only did this lead to unpleasant soreness, but also my STL gym buddy (who happens to be a Physical Therapist) Amy yelling at me for being dumb. In one of these cases my fellow gym goers were given some free entertainment as Amy basically “shanked” a knot in my calf with her knuckle. There were a lot of facial distortions and some swearing that took place. Whether you are working out to lose weight, stay in shape, or relieve stress, your body needs time to recover. There are many opinions saying how much time you need to recover or how many rest days you really need, but it really comes down to how intense your workouts are, what your fitness level is, and at the end of the day listening to your body. Your body is capable of incredible things, but it is also very good at giving you signs that it needs a break. By not allowing it to recover you are not only opening yourself to injury and other negative effects (decreased immune system, fatigue, etc), but you may stop seeing results from your training. If you don’t want to spend the whole day lounging, do an “active rest day” where you do light exercise (walk, yoga, stretching) just to get the blood moving. Keeping the intensity down lets your body recover and you still get to feel accomplished.

Now for the school and work side of the coin. This one can be a little tougher when you are working with deadlines and a heavy workload. Sometimes taking an entire day off just isn’t in the cards. My 4 week coding class in January combined with my work responsibilities did not allow for a day of trading reading, homework, and work for Netflix. However, that amount of mental stimulation and need for focus demanded that I build in breaks or risk burning myself out. While I couldn’t take an entire day off, I made changes to my schedule to make the most of my workable hours and give myself time to reset. I set days and hours that I would dedicate to homework and applied my undergraduate trick of 45 minutes to an hour of studying 5-10 minute break. This is a trick I learned in my psychology class; taking breaks actually helps improve memory and absorption of the material. I planned my workout schedule to so that I gave myself a break between the work day and studying and let myself sleep in on my fitness rest day. Those 4 weeks were still stressful and exhausting, but they could have been much worse if I hadn’t allowed myself to recover.

Now that life has calmed down a bit I have made the effort to give myself those full rest days to chill out and regroup. I did not do as well this week with giving myself proper rest and I saw the effects of that when I was studying. With that in mind, today may see limited review of Accounting during lunch, but then I am done for the day. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, Friday nights should be dedicated to something fun and relaxing, not studying. I will be a much more successful student when I pick up my book on Sunday to review after taking a day off.

 

Best,

Katherine

Friday Highlights

Sleep: 7 Hours (stayed up too late watching the GOP disaster, I mean debate)

Work: 9 hours

Studying: 1/2 hour review

Workout: Light stretching and walk with Tucker (follow @tuckerfluff on Instagram for all of his adventures)

Sunday Shenanigans 2/21 – Running Shoes

In the spirit of the beautiful weather Metro Detroit had this weekend (60 in February?!) this post will be focused on my endeavor to buy new running shoes for the season. I’ve known for a while that I need to retire my tried and true Reeboks. Fitness experts say you should replace your shoes every 400 miles and I had gone much farther than that in these puppies. So why did it take me so long to buy new shoes? Part of it was lack of time, but part of it is that every time I have to buy new shoes the company has discontinued or somehow changed my previous shoe. Shoe choice is an important aspect of running regularly and as I already do not enjoy running, finding a comfortable shoe is key. However, it is never as easy as it should be. Every time I have to change shoes I go through the cycle of researching my options, trying them on, debating them, debating some more, and eventually purchasing a pair. That purchase is generally followed by some doubt in my choice, a couple runs, and then the decision that I did in fact make the right choice (or at least a comfortable choice). This time was no different. What I should do is go to an actual running store and have them fit me and monitor my style of running on one of their treadmills. For my next pair I will likely do that. However, this time I was in desperate need of new shoes and didn’t have time/didn’t want to wait to find and try a running store. So off I went.

In my head I knew that I wanted a pair similar to my Reeboks; lighter-weight but not the weightless type, consistent level of thickness in the sole, and finally, that X factor that when you put them on and you feel good in them. I had toyed with the more structured shoes that have a little more support and maybe a little more padding, wondering what the effects of my light weight shoes would be on my knees and ankles in the long run. Yet, I had found success in my runs with the style of Reebok I had been using, so why change? I was also concerned with the fact that many of the thicker soled shoes make me want to plant my heel when I run which is awful for your knees. I didn’t want to mess with my running style and so I resolved to stick with my current shoe design.

FullSizeRender2Now that I knew what I wanted, on to shopping. I had explored a few options while shopping last weekend and had found a Nike pair that I thought would work. However I wasn’t wearing the right socks to judge so I waited on the purchase. Fast forward to this weekend, go back to the store with one pair in mind, try them on, and of course am not as sure about them as I had previously was. I explore a little more, find myself in the clearance section and come across another Nike pair similar to the ones in my hand but also reminiscent of my Reeboks. Try one on, it feels good, try one of each pair of Nikes on to compare and the new ones take the cake. Awesome, I have a decision. Except, what are these? A more structured pair form Asics that have caught my attention. It couldn’t hurt to try them on for comparison, right? After all, I had debated trying this type of shoe. Much to my surprise, I like them. They are comfortable but not heavy, with support I can feel as I bounce up and down the aisle to test my gait in them. I once again put one of each pair on for comparison. There is a distinct difference in the feel but I am unsure of which I prefer. I always liked the light weight shoe, but could these more structured ones feel better after a long run? Enter here a lot of extra time at the store, one purchased pair followed doubt and a return to the store to purchase the second pair as well. I will save you the details of coming to that decision but what it comes down to is the fact that I found two pairs of running shoes that I like when I generally struggle to find one. The light weight Nikes will be more shorter run and sprinting shoes while the more structured Asics will be for my longer runs. By doing this I hope to lengthen the life of both pairs of shoes while also helping my joint out with more support as I run. So far I have only taken the Nikes for a spin but I am excited to officially try out the Asics as well.

Having the right equipment is important for any activity you try, but especially when it affects safety or the impacts on your health. I know that while running is great exercise,  it is a high impact workout and can be tough on my body. That is why I try to mix up my workouts and am always conscious of how I feel when I start a workout. Staying in shape only keeps you healthy if you don’t hurt yourself while doing it.

How do you stay in shape? Does anyone else have the same problem I do finding the right equipment?

 

Best,

Katherine

 

Sunday Highlights

Sleep: 8 hours

Work: 1 Hour

Study: 0

Workout: 30 min treadmill workout, 40 minutes POP Pilates

Why I Run

I’ll come right out and say it, I hate running. I don’t understand people who want to run marathons and I think the runner’s high is a myth runners tell non runners to get them to run. I love the way I feel after I run, I love feeling strong and healthy, but I hate running. Unlike swimming or biking where I can lose myself in my thoughts or music and go forever, I am acutely aware of how far I’ve gone and how much farther I have to go when I run. This hate for running isn’t dominant in my family, quite the contrary. My mom ran 8 miles every day and my sister is training for a marathon and an ironman. Less extreme but still a runner, my brother runs regularly and enjoys it. Then there is me. I am the one that wears a “Running Sucks” shirt while I run. So why if I hate it do I put myself through 2-5 mile runs several times per week? As I said, I love feeling strong and healthy and when I run, I feel just that. I also like having a variety of workouts in my routine, especially when weather and logistics limit my options. Right now I do not have easy access to a pool, so swimming laps is out. Biking is great but often I feel like my stationary bike does not give me the same intense workout I get when I’m cycling outside.

I’ve been asked before how I motivate myself to go running, especially when it gets colder. I actually enjoy running more when it is chilly. Once it get above 65-70 I feel like my body has to work a lot harder to keep me moving. My ideal running weather is in the 50s. Warm enough to not have to bundle but cool enough that I don’t feel like I am melting. So motivating myself, I won’t lie, it’s tough some days. Not only to get myself to run but to work out in general. I either have to wake up early to get a run in before work, which is usually what I do in the summer so it is not as hot, or I have to do it after a long day at work. Both of those options require physical activity to happen at a time where I would rather be curled up with a blanket. However, I know from experience that once I get moving, I will feel more awake and I always feel better after a workout than I do knowing that I skipped. That feeling is largely what gets me up and moving. There is much greater satisfaction in sinking into the couch after a workout than there is after sitting all day. For someone starting a workout routine, or even for those who have one but need a push, I recommend finding quick workouts, 3, 5, or 10 minutes, that can get you moving even when you feel tired. If you enjoy Pilates I recommend Blogilates with Cassey Ho; she has 3 and 5 minute series that are great for squeezing exercise in. If after that first burst you’re still exhausted and not feeling it, maybe your body really needs the break. On the flip side, that quick burst to get the blood flowing may just be the kickstart you needed to get into your full workout. Either way, you know that you gave it a try and made the effort for some physical activity.

What is your favorite workout? Are there any that you hate but force yourself to do? Let me know!