Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Workout Wednesday & WIAW: EMS + Restaurant Holiday Meals

It seemed like such a long wait for vacation to begin and now I'm enjoying every moment. It feels so good to sleep in and ease into the days! This year for Christmas Eve all the kids were home and we tried something new for our dinner celebration.

My morning started with a quick breakfast before I headed out for a PT session. Most of what I do at PT is the same as what I do at home except that I warm up on the bike, get a couple of sets in on the leg press, and finish with some EMS.

The use of EMS during my PT is to help me use as much of my muscle as possible while doing muscle contractions. Without it, I might be using as little as 30% of the muscle. The EMS allows more of the resting fibers to contract and therefore increases overall strength. There's an interesting article here that talks about using EMS for training, recovery, and rehab.

When I got home I chased my workout with a fruit and veggie smoothie with some added protein and amino from GNC PUREDGE. My rebuilding muscles need all the help they can get! For lunch I heated up some leftovers while baking (and test-tasting) some more gluten free cookies!

{breakfast} peanut butter & jelly rice cakes with coffee {snack} protein fruit smoothie {lunch} leftover gluten free chili {snack} gluten free chocolate chip cookie

We took our Christmas Eve family dinner to Fratello's for a very festive meal together. This was a new adventure for all of us and since the girls and I like getting all fancied-up, it was a great excuse to get the boys in on the fun too.

{appetizer} Caprese salad {dinner} Mussels, Bolognese, Prime Rib, Chicken Alfredo, and New York Strip

{dessert} Triple Chocolate cake and Limoncello torte

After dinner we drove around looking at Christmas lights. I love the effort that some people put into the displays. Our favorites included a house showing movies on the garage door, a huge display with music, and finally a synchronized light show to music on the radio!

Would you ever use EMS as part of your training or recovery?
Do you go out to eat on holidays? This was our first time, but we're thinking of making it a tradition.

This post is part of the #WIAW link up hosted by Jen
This post is part of the Workout Wednesday link up hosted by 
Diatta, Sheila, Amanda and Heather

Monday, December 29, 2014

#HolidaySweat Week 5 Update

It's hard to believe that I am already three weeks and a couple of days post-menisectomy. With two more PT sessions under my belt, I have been able to increase my exercises and do more at home with increased confidence.

The bonus point challenge for the week was to walk/run a 5K. My PT did not give me permission to run (haha) or even walk the 5K, but he did give the ok to walking one mile per day (yay). {Friday} my oldest stepdaughter walked with me and the dog {Saturday} I recruited mrC, two kids, and my brother-in-law to take a walk after lunch at my in-laws and {Sunday} after driving 2+ hours back to NH, mrC and I took Booney for a walk to stretch our legs.

Having a smoothie everyday helped me meet the fruit and veggie goal, but the added protein and amino from GNC helped my muscles recover from PT and all the walking I was able to do this week.

My water in-take for the week was another success and I added another plant to my "garden." The only downside to drinking so much water is the number of trips I take to the bathroom. Jeez!

It's time to get started on the final week of the challenge!

What will you be doing this week?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

WIAW: Simple

Today's post is part of the #WIAW link up hosted by Jen! 

Merry Christmas Eve and welcome to the holiday madness, right? All the kids are home and I can't wait for the movie watching, cookie-eating, present un-wrapping chaos to begin!

Nothing at all like last Saturday. It was one of the simplest days we've had in a long time. We eased into the day, went to a hockey game, and watched a movie. Simply wonderful!

Most of my days start with a workout. Lately that workout has been my PT leg exercises. Right now my exercise focus is on strengthening my quad, hamstring, and glute muscles. Oh, I can't wait until I can run again!

{Pre-breakfast} Coffee while icing the knee after doing my morning PT exercises.

{Breakfast} Kept it simple with some cheesy scrambled eggs with ham and a PB&J rice cake on the side.

{Snack} The hockey game started at 11 AM and was an hour away, so I made a to-go fruit and veggie smoothie adding in some GNC PUREDGE amino to encourage muscle recovery after my morning workout.

{Lunch} We stopped at a local restaurant after my nephew's hockey game to have lunch with the in-laws up from Massachusetts. I love when restaurants have gluten-free menus. I kept it simple with some GF cheese pizza.

{Treat} Who knew finding GF cookie dough would be so hard these days? None of our local groceries sell it. So, my brother-in-law bought some GF cookie dough for us in MA. I started baking as soon as we got home!

{Dinner} Another simple meal (leftovers) of Cheesy Tuna Quinoa and a salad.

What have you been eating lately?

Monday, December 22, 2014

#HolidaySweat Challenge Week 4 Update

Week 4 was a week of progress.

On Monday I had my first post-op appointment and the stitches came out of my knee. I also got the go-ahead to start PT and had my first session on Wednesday. I was surprised by how much I got to do and didn't even mind the 15 minutes of NMES (neuromuscular reeducation electrical stimulation). Apparently my quad muscle has atrophied quite a bit in the two weeks post-surgery. Most of the exercises I can do at home every other day.

I was surprised that I was doing wall squats, even with support, on my first day of PT. The foam roller makes moving up and down much easier as I'm not pushing against the wall. The hardest part for me is making sure my right leg isn't doing all of the work.

Heel press seems like no big deal, but my knee had a little pain after each 8 second hold. Dr. Bri said it was a normal pain, so I will keep doing them. This one is all about the hamstrings and mine felt the work.

Throughout the week I also had fun mixing in some of the PUREDGE product I was sent to review (post here) from GNC to boost my fruit and veggie smoothies. It also inspired me to try some new recipes. My favorite so far has been a Chocolate Raspberry Smoothie.

With the help of the Plant Nanny app that I mentioned in my last update, I met my daily water goal EVERY DAY!! My first plant, befittingly named Water Baby, grew so much that I was able to move it to the "garden" and start a new plant named Dandy Baby.

Week 4 of the challenge also offered bonus points for doing yoga. Now, I'm all about using yoga to stretch, so I did what I could with my knee and it felt so good!

Overall, it was a good week for me.

How was your week?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sharing a Love for Winter Running

Today I'm happy to share a post written by my running friend and colleague Melissa. Melissa has been a runner since her school days and is very competitive. Now she is sharing her passion with her daughter. 

It's a winter wonderland out here in New Hampshire this morning. We have big white fluffy snowflakes and no wind. Perfect winter running!

My daughter recently started running with me to prepare for a mile test in her gym class last week. I hoped she would continue to run once the school challenge ended. 

Catching flakes on our tongues seemed like a perfect draw to get an 11-year-old hitting the pavement with me. We had a blast! 


I can't wait to get back in my running shoes and go for a winter run too!

Do your children run?
How do you entice them?

Friday, December 19, 2014

2014 Race Awards

Every year I like to look back on my running and fitness and reflect on what I accomplished, what I loved, and make new goals. It's always fun to reminisce while putting together an end of the year blog post. 

This year I am linking up with Montana from Pretty Lil Mudder as we dish out some end of the year race awards. My race schedule was cut short due to my injuries and I ran fewer races than previous years, but there were still plenty of races to talk about.

Most Scenic Course - Newport Half Marathon 

There are miles of ocean views like this along the first 6-ish miles of the Newport Half Marathon course. After that you get a couple of miles on mansion views. It's beautiful.

Most Challenging Course - ZOOMA Cape Cod Half Marathon

This race has a very hilly second half. It's a challenge for most runners but my various leg injuries made this one the most challenging course of the year.

Best Expo - ZOOMA Cape Cod

It's not the size, but the attention to details that earns ZOOMA this one. They have great merchandise from sponsors and local vendors, but they also create a personalized experience. Take photos, attend presentations, meet the race founders. Just some little things like that.

Best Post-Race Food/Beverages - Kickoff to Summer 5K

Post race food that is mostly homemade treats or healthy fruit choices win the honors here. It's not elaborate or fancy, but it is always so good.

Best Swag - ZOOMA Cape Cod 

ZOOMA swag included the race tech shirt, a hat and the normal samples, but it was the Feetures! socks that made this swag a real treat.

Most Unique Medal - First Run 5K

I have accumulated three of them now, but the famous wine stopper medal will always be the most unique to me.

Favorite Race Shirt - Newport 10 Miler

Although this race shirt is a cotton tee, I love the simple design and color choice. If it was a moisture wicking material, I know I would run in it. For now it's one of my cozy, lazy day picks.

Favorite Overall Race - TI Disco Fever 10K

Growing up, I was a big fan of disco music. Even though I don't usually dress up for races, this one was too fun not to join in.

Best Course Support - Ragnar Relay Cape Cod

We didn't all run together like in the picture until the finish line, but it felt like we had been the whole race. Besides leap-frogging our runners on the course, nothing compares to hearing "Go runner" shouted to you from nearly every passing vehicle while you run.

Race You Are Most Proud of Yourself for CompletingHalf at the Hamptons

For about a month leading up to this race, I was dealing with knee pain, that I now know was my torn meniscus, so I had no idea if I was going to be able to finish or not. My stepdaughter and I joined forces to finish this one using a run/walk plan and we did it.

Tell me about your 2014 races. Pick a category from the list or make one of your own.

This post is also part of the Fitness Friday link up hosted by Jill.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

GNC PUREDGE: Chocolate Protein Mug Cake

The following post is written on behalf of GNC through my relationship with Linqia. All opinions are my own.

Over the past few months I have been coping with running injuries, recovering from knee surgery, dealing with digestive issues and overcoming fatigue. It hasn't been easy, to say the least.

However, the GNC PUREDGE line is easy to integrate into your every day life. The line includes a variety of products to meet several different needs: amino, energy, bars, and protein.

The GNC PUREDGE line is whole-food based and promises:

- No Gluten-added ingredients
- No GMO-added ingredients
- No banned substances
- No artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners
- No preservatives
- No wheat, yeast, fish, or egg
- No sugar alcohols 

GNC Complete Amino includes glutamine, so it was the first product I tried. Glutamine is known to help muscle recovery, fight illness, and improve digestion. It was recently recommended to me by a running friend. When I mixed with water it tasted a lot like the tropical punch Kool-Aid I drank as a kid. I have been blending it into my morning smoothies The tropical punch flavor overpowers the fruits and vegetables, but it is still good.

GNC Daily Energy is recommended to jumpstart your day or your workout. After days of hauling myself around school on a crutch, I was running on empty at the end of the day. Adding a scoop of cherry limeade to my smoothie gave me a boost, but the flavor didn't overpower my freggies.

GNC Complete Protein Bars are easy to toss into your lunch bag as I like to do. As much as I wanted to love these, both flavors tasted a little too much like vitamins to me. I'm very picky about my protein bars though.

GNC Complete Protein was my favorite product...maybe because it was chocolate! I had been looking for an excuse to make some sort of dessert and this product gave me a great excuse.

Inspired by an awesome recipe from Julie for chocolate mug cake, I made some modifications to make it gluten-free and protein packed so it can be a delicious post-workout indulgence!

I can't believe how easy it was to make cake…and in the microwave.

How do you use your chocolate protein?

Don't forget to check out all the GNC PUREDGE products here.

This post is also part of the #WIAW link up hosted by Jen

Monday, December 15, 2014

#HolidaySweat Challenge Week 3 Update

I don't know why it's taken me this long to do a Holiday Sweat Challenge post, but here we go!

Week 3 started as I was 4 days post-op from my meniscus surgery. I stayed home from school an extra day to give my knee one more day of rest in the hopes of reducing the still significant swelling.

I tried to ice my knee and get some work done, but after a wellness call from Dr. O's office I spent three hours getting an ultra sound and waiting for the results. The good news was I had no clots, the bad news was I had to limit my weight bearing by using one crutch until the end of the week.

My week of workouts suffered as a result of my recovery. On one hand I couldn't do much because of my knee and on the other I was exhausted. Maybe my body was working overtime for the healing process and maybe maneuvering myself around with one crutch is just tiresome.

In addition to tracking workouts during the challenge, we also track our servings of fruit, vegetables, and water. This part of the challenge has been eye-opening.

Monday - Arm strength workout (you can check it out here) and leg exercises. Water and 3 freggie servings.

TuesdayAnother arm workout, water, and 3 freggie servings. Bed at 8:15 PM

Wednesday - Water and 3 freggie servings. Bed at 8 PM

Thursday - Leg exercises, water, and 3 freggie servings. Bed at 7:30 PM!!

FridayLeg exercises, water, and 3 freggie servings. Bed at 8 PM

Saturday - Spent 2 hours walking around the mall Christmas shopping. Normally this would not feel like a workout, but it was the most walking I've done (crutch-free) in over a week! 2 serving freggies and tons of water.

SundayArm strength workout and leg exercises. 4 freggie servings and tons of water.

This challenge has shown me how much I am lacking in my water intake. Add to that some medicine that can cause constipation, and well…not so good for my tummy. At the end of the week I saw an article on Facebook about a woman who drank 3 liters of water a day and changed her life (read it here). I knew I had to make some changes myself.

I started using the Plant Nanny app after my friend Dani told me about it. It's an easy way to keep track of how much water I'm drinking and reach my daily goal. The app also gives me my own "plant" and every time I drink water, I water the plant and watch it grow. I named my plant Water Baby.

What do you track?
Do you use an app?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Workout Wednesday: Arms on Fire

PT for my knee will not start until I'm two weeks post-op, YIKES! That's a long time.

It didn't take long for me to remember that there is nothing wrong with my arms or abs and the wise words of Christine from TI Fitness, "You'll be a better runner with a strong upper body."

She's right. In "Run Better By Working Your Upper Body" from Runner's World, Nikki Kimball explains the importance of upper body strength.
"The best distance athletes don't just have impressive quads and glutes. They have muscular arms and shoulders that help them maintain speed throughout their races. When you run, your arms counterbalance the motion of your legs, resulting in saved energy. The swing of the arms helps propel the body forward so the lower body isn't doing all the work. And a strong upper body bolsters a runner's form when fatigue sets in."
Since I only own a pair of light hand weights, I thought about the arm workouts that had me near tears at Booty Barre. Those 10 minute strength sessions were about repetitions, not weight.

You may be looking at that set of exercises and thinking, serving tray? bowling? 

They really are exercises (I promise) and they look like this:

At then end of the first circuit, my arms were already feeling the burn. Each exercise got harder and harder to do.

Using my 2 pound weights, the whole workout took me about 15 minutes


my arms were on fire.

Do you prefer reps or weight?

This post is part of the Workout Wednesday link up hosted by 
Diatta, Sheila, Amanda and Heather

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

#DishtheFit: What's Next? Goals for 2015

Today I'm linking up with Jill Conyers and Jessica for Tuesdays #DishtheFit and today's topic is:

What's next? Goals for 2015.

Honestly, it is hard to think about 2015 while I'm sitting here with ice on my knee and crutches by my side.

It seemed best to start by looking back at my Bucket List for 2014 for a little recap of my year. My goal to hit 1000 miles was curtailed by all of my injuries. I ran at least 2 new races during 2014: the TI Disco Fever 10K and the Ragnar Relay Cape Cod. Although I did not add another state to my places I have raced list, I did run a lot of miles in Vermont! Two new activities that I tried were Stand Up Paddle Boarding and Zip Lining. Sadly I was closed out of the coaching certification class, but I continued to make healthy food choices and fell in love with smoothies!

It didn't take long for the little walk down memory lane to get me thinking. What is next for me?

Rehab my knee - My first priority is to get back into my running shoes. My goal is to be logging miles by the end of January.

Build my overall strength - I want to take at least one cross training class every week and focus on my upper body strength so I'll be a better runner.

Volunteer at another race - I did this with MRTT at the GOTR Fall 5K and it was so amazing to be part of such a big day for so many runners. I'd love to volunteer at the Boston Marathon (fingers crossed).

Just run - That's it. No worries about distance, pace, or PRs. More group runs, more fun runs, more family runs.

Be the BEST Ambassador - It will be my mission to spread my love of running wherever I can: the high school Run Club, a National Running Day event,  ZOOMA Cape Cod in September. (see discount on my sidebar!)

What's next for you? 
Any big plans in 2015?

I've also added this post to the Tuesdays on the Run link up!