Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bring It, Broad Street!

If you're a runner living in Philadelphia then I imagine you are gearing up to cheer or run in this week's Broad Street race, the largest 10-miler in the country. This was my first 10-miler and had been a milestone race for me last year. Thank the Universe that this year is not my first time doing it.

Yes, I completed BSR in good time in 2010. Yes, I completed a half-marathon a month ago. This left me feeling really good about the BSR which would soon follow. High off my 13.1 mile success, I started reading Runner's World magazine on the bus to work, getting giddy at the thought of doing more races this year. I found myself coming home from work exhausted but nonetheless psyched to lace up my shoes and hit the trails. I even got motivated to work on my inclines and speed, secretly racing boys to improve my timing.

But as I was discovering a new-found love of running, I was rapidly experiencing a loathe of my current work situation. I was not taking the best care of myself in the process, resorting to lots of coffee and processed foods to "carry" me through the roller coaster ride. And where did running fit into all of this? Well, it didn't. I tried to run on the weekend but ended up feeling the way I did all I needed to hurl. After spending the day in bed with a throbbing headache and hot and cold flashes, I decided to refrain from any running during what was then the upcoming work week (and the worst work week of my life)...which brings me to the here and now. And my first run in a week...a week before BSR, which, knock-on-wood, went amazingly well.

My roommate asked me if I was nervous about this week's race, given my unexplained illness (likely stress related but not completely sure) and lack of running in the past two weeks. This isn't going to be my first BSR, so I've got that much going for me. I know what to expect, course wise (and it's flat; another bonus!). I don't need to wonder if I can do this race. It's been done before. Completing a half marathon at a decent pace a month prior to an upcoming race was a big check mark on the motivator list too. If I have to rely on muscle memory, dammit, I'll do it. I might feel sick on race day. But I always feel sick on race day!

Here are some extra TLC goals this week for my "Bring It, Broad Street" preparation for both the physical and mental aspects of my recent departure from my running routine.

*Hydrate - the temperatures this year are not likely to come close to last year's record (thank goddess). But going easy on the Joe will help regardless. This week I'll try to refrain from coffee and hydrate with chia frescas. And despite a fun date last week that happened to involve some alcohol, I will try and forgo said spirits at any upcoming date nights. It might have been what instigated the health situation last week.

*De-Stress - leaving work at 5:00 p.m. should definitely help. (most nights I am there until 7:00). Making plans to meet up with friends for dinner this week is a must. Their company makes life more scrumptious.

*Visualize - my dear friend Robert sent me an email last week with a detailed visualization about kicking asphalt at the BSR. In one paragraph, he took me through the course and got me successfully from start to finish. Training is essential but even with a detour in my running plan, I am confident that I can complete this race. Picturing a run across the finish line will help me meet the goal. My only concern at this point is setting a personal record. But I'll figure that out on Sunday. So many factors can affect timing on race day. There's no reason to worry about that now. In the meantime, I'll imagine a fast and solid run.

*Enlist helpers - adding a couple new artists/songs to the iPod gets me groovin'. Latest downloads include Lady G's Born This Way and Adele's Rolling In the Deep. Having friends or family come to cheer is the best. Susie might be making an appearance at the finish line. But even if friends or the fam can't come, picturing them there (add this to the Visualize list above) is a fantastic mood-booster. I did this during my half-marathon. I knew my parents were coming to the race but I had no idea where they'd be. So I pictured them at every mile marker. And this no doubt contributed to my fast finish time.

*Lastly, keep things in perspective - When it comes to terrain, temperatures, training, and timing, any race you or I will run is nothing like this one (sorry). When I was nervous for my first race last year (a 4-miler), a friend popped this documentary in the old DVD player. Watch the trailer. Enough said.

What helps you get ready to rock race day?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Guest Blogger: See Jane Save

As I visited with family last weekend, my aunt looked at my $16 worth of groceries - a big tub of organic lettuce, two cans of protein-packed lentil soup, one cucumber, a bag of carrots, and a big tub of amazing kalamata hummus - and asked me, "How do you afford this?" I turned to her and said, "Ask me how much I spend on health care. Zip."

Now I know that was smart-ass of me but it was also the truth. I knew, however, what she was getting at. She's got a family of five after all.

We all know that shopping organic and "healthy" is often perceived as more expensive and in some cases it is. If you were to compare my receipt at Whole Foods (dubbed by some as "Whole Paycheck") to someone shopping at an Acme, there'd likely be some difference. But then again, I'd argue comparing the ingredients and processing of the foods, their origin, and contribution or lack thereof to the consumer's health should also be tallied in the "costs." It's not all about buying exclusively organic. As Jane will tell you, there are ways to save and still be healthy.

In any case, I was curious what the food shopping receipts looked like for families. I definitely feel I invest a good amount of money in food, but it's a little different as a single gal when I don't have to put funds towards childcare expenses. Enter Jane - fellow health junkie, wife, grad student, blogger, and mother of two. I don't know how she does it all! But that's for another blog. Here's how Jane makes magic at the grocery store!

Whenever I go through the check out at the grocery store, there is always a comment.

“You are the healthiest person that comes to this store!”

“Who eats all of this, it certainly isn’t you!” (I wasn’t quite sure if that was a compliment or not)

“What is this? I have never seen this before in my life!”

“Dandelion greens????”

And just today, “Man, you eat a lot of coconuts!”

We are a family of four and my daughter Lilah and I have the appetites of 300 pound men. My husband and other daughter Molly are a bit more conservative with their food intake, but can still throw down with the best of us. We spend about $200 a week on groceries.

I don’t make apologies for feeding my family tons of fresh, organic produce, Lara bars, organic meats and eggs, and the occasional bag of pirate booty. Two hundred dollars a week is a sacrifice for us. We are by no means wealthy. My husband is a construction worker and in a band; I stay at home with the girls and am working on my doctorate. We do not have an exorbitant amount of excess income. Some weeks it is really tough, but healthy eating is something I believe in whole heartedly. I often sacrifice other things to make healthy eating work. I traded my designer wardrobe for designer bananas a LONG time ago.

Healthy eating has to be a top priority if you want to make it work. Sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed with the amount of money that we spend on food, but my family and our health is my hobby, my passion, and my love. I am willing to pay for it ;)

Here are some tips to save:

Buy in bulk
- I buy my protein powders and Lara bars in bulk and usually end up saving quite a bit of money compared to buying them one bag or one box of bars at a time. Here are some fantastic sites for discounts on health foods and supplements:

Keep It Clean
- If organic is the goal, but the budget is tight, focus on the “dirty dozen.” There are so many lists online of the best foods to buy organic. The general rule of thumb is that anything with a thin skin, like grapes, blueberries, and leafy greens, is best (re: safest) when bought organic. Bananas, avocados, etc…? Buy regular (conventional/non-organic). Even places like Produce Junction are a great locale to snag lots of fruits and veggies for super cheap!

I always recommend buying organic meat. I don’t eat meat or dairy anymore, but unfortunately the big guy (hubs) is resistant to giving it up. If you want cheap, you can buy chicken legs and thighs organic for usually 3-4 bucks a pack.

Join as CSA, a Co-Op, or both
- Find a CSA near you! You can't get much healthier than locally grown food. If the committment seems too much, divide the share between your household and a fellow healthy neighbor!

Do-It-Yourself -For those of us who go meat-free, I have always been a fan of making my own tomato sauce with a can of crushed tomatoes, fresh garlic, and spices. You can put it over the noodles of your choice (preferably for us, gluten-free). Hummus is another nutritious, filling meal. Cans of chickpeas are often on sale 10 for 10. Buy 10 cans and 1 jar of organic tahini and boom! Hummus. Two cans of black beans, 1 can of organic crushed tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, some salt- bam! Slice some fresh avocado on top and you have vegan chili.

There are so many great ways to eat healthy and organic on a budget! Get creative, look less at the receipt and more at the bottom line - your family’s health is priceless.

Jane Rosenzweig is a wife, stay-at-home mom, and is working on her doctorate in Clinical Psychology. She is passionate about health, balance, and living a full, happy life with a heavy dose of humor. Check out her blog at:

Monday, April 11, 2011

One Enchanted (Macro) Evening

I recently got to visit with two of my favorite people over dinner and get a glimpse of the benefits of what is their day-to-day diet. Christina and Robert Pirello have been living the macrobiotic lifestyle for over 26 years. Christina was introduced after receiving a cancer diagnosis. Robert was her macro counselor. She adopted this diet under his supervision and guidance to heal but got more than she probably expected. She not only got better; she acquired a super cool man friend and husband.

Together, Christina and Robert have brought their love of this healing diet and way of life to hundreds of thousands of people. They take travel enthusiasts with them on trips to Italy and Israel and soak in the sun with fellow cruisers in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. Christina hosts cooking classes in Philadelphia and shows viewers, through her PBS show Christina Cooks, how good the macro life can be.

I had attended some of her classes and read her books. But it's a truly awesome experience to share a meal with this power couple, who are two of the most genuine and giving people you could ever meet.

And I have to say that this meal, prepared by the pros, couldn't have come at a better time. I eat a plant-based diet and try to prepare as many meals as possible. But my work schedule had become more hectic in recent months, I was down on my number of daily veggies, and training for a half marathon had consumed what little free time I had left. Hence, no cooking. Hence, I desperately wanted a home-cooked meal. And presto! Here it was...

I would imagine that when people hear the word "macrobiotic" the following associations might come to mind:

*Is that, like, Biology?
*Nutritionist Science Jargon

A macrobiotic diet focuses on the energetics and quality of food...avoiding or reducing the amount of foods that have an overly yin (expansive) or yang (contractive) quality to them. Extreme foods on the body include caffeine, sugar, animal products and alcohol. But every food has an energy. Balance is a proportion of foods that are yin and yang without going to one extreme or the other (coffee, sugar, etc...will get you there quickly).

While I took a stab at some Macro Monday recipes in the past (and found them to be very soothing and balancing) - Miso Soup, Blanched Vegetables, Burdock for Breakfast, and Parsley Tea, I must say Christina and Robert's dinner menu was much yummier in general and would appeal to a wide variety of palates.


Pickled Eggplant Crostini
Creamy Parsnip Bisque
Farro Salad
Raddichio, Grapefruit and Arugula Salad

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Do you get your macro on? What are your favorite recipes or sites?

For more great recipes, visit

Aside from Christina's books (my favorite is Glow), I recommend Jessica Porter's The Hip Chick Guide to Macrobiotics, and Simon Brown's Modern-Day Macrobiotics.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Crazy Sexy Life

We all know life can be sexy (YUM) and crazy (OY) how do we keep the two in balance?

Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Life wellness hub delivers daily tips of goodness to keep you feelin' groovy!

And I was beyond thrilled at the opportunity to contribute to the discussion.

Here's my article 6 Steps Towards Emotional Wellness.

Enjoy and be well!


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Green Goodness

Just finished a super fast run and found myself brainstorming ideas for dinner. I realized I had a bunch of veggies in need of some attention and decided to keep dinner light. I opted for some life-affirming green goodness.

That's the great thing about can pop all your produce into a little machine and bam! Maximize your nutrients for the day. Yum! Here's what I made:

Green Goodness Juice

One head of romaine lettuce*
Two cucumbers, peeled
Two small gala apples*
1-2 Tbsp Lime Juice

Juice the romaine, cucumbers and apples. Add lime juice and stir. Wonder why you haven't made something like this sooner.

*Buy organic. Apples and lettuce are on the Dirty Dozen.