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Runner Swag Swap!

22 Jul

There is almost not faster way to get me jumping up and down like a little kid again than to send me a surprise in the mail. I love getting “fun mail.” As an adult, getting bills in the mail is a regular thing, but every now and then, something fun arrives that makes me super excited!

Yesterday, FUN MAIL arrived! EEEEEEEK!

A while back, a fellow running blogger, Eat to run. Run to eat., hosted a runner swag swap. All you had to do was send Jerry an e-mail letting her know that you were interested and include your mailing address. She paired runners together to swap a gift box of runner goods! I thought it was such a fun idea, so I immediately signed up to participate.

Well, my swag from my partner arrived yesterday! SWEET!
Surprise Running Swag
I got:

I am so excited! I have never tried an official sport wash, but I have heard it really does the trick on getting the stank out of “long run clothes.” Also, the reflective bands come with PERFECT TIMING! With Hood to Coast coming up in only a few weeks, these will be ideal for wearing during night runs. I have a lot of running gear, but I was seriously lacking on reflective, safety gear, so these will definitely come in handy! And Gu products? You really can’t go wrong!

Also, my super awesome swag swap partner made me a great running mix! I can’t wait to check out these tunes and add them to my running playlist!
Runner Swag Swap

  1. “Intro” by the xx
  2. “Cracks” by Freestylers
  3. “Throwing Fire” by Ronald Jenkees
  4. “Young Blood” by The Naked and Famous
  5. “Life in Technicolor” by Coldplay
  6. “Move Away” by The Killers
  7. “Goodness Gracious” by Person L
  8. “19-2000 [Soulchild Remix]” by Gorillaz
  9. “We Owe This to Ourselves” by Anberlin
  10. “Watch the World” by Boxcar Racer

IF I can get my act together by Halloween, I mentioned to Jerry that I might be interested in hosting a swap on this blog. Things with the move and new house should be much calmer by then, so I don’t see why I couldn’t, but I’ll let you know as that time gets closer. 🙂

Speaking of new house…tomorrow is the BIG DAY! We were supposed to close this past Friday, but due to circumstances out of our control, the closing got pushed to tomorrow. I am so excited! I really don’t know what to do with myself! We are going to finally have a home! There are so may awesome things about our new house that I don’t even have the time to write it all out here, but suffice it to say…super amazing things lay ahead!

How is YOUR weekend going? Did you RACE this weekend? If so, how did you do?

Perks of Not Working for THE MAN

4 Jun

As my time as an engineer draws to a close, I find myself getting even more nervous, excited, and anxious about our big move and my massive career change. I will spend today cleaning out my office and clearing off my work laptop. Reality is setting in big time. To keep myself from focusing on the anxiety associated with such big changes, I need to highlight some of the perks that will come along with my new position!

I am 100% serious about this. Throughout my college years, I experimented with many different colors of hair…some natural…some notsomuch. My favorite hair experiment was with the color blue. I absolutely LOVED it. As soon as I find a stylist in Greenville that I feel is capable of giving me such a dramatic color, I will be dying some (possibly all?) of my hair navy blue. Imagine comic book hair…looks almost black when inside, but is obviously a deep shade of blue when the sunlight hits it! Or maybe I’ll go with a lighter blue? Either way, I cannot wait!

This could be cool, right? Even though I’m almost 30?

Run at 6AM? Run at 9AM? Run at 11AM? Run at 1PM? Run at 3PM? Sure…why not! The perks of having a flexible schedule is that, barring important meetings and/or conference calls, I will be able to schedule running and workout time when my body is ready for it. No more awkward crack of dawn runs or runs in the dark of night…unless I feel like it. As I have said before, my body most enjoys running around 8AM but, like most people, I have always had to be at work at this time. In addition, if I want to take group exercise classes that fall during the daytime, my schedule will now allow it. Since I will be directing/managing/timing races, many of my work hours will fall on the weekends anyway, so I will not allow myself to feel guilty for taking a mid-morning run. I will have to get used to this, since I can tend to be a workaholic, but I am sure that it won’t be *too* hard of a routine to break into.

Oh yes, you read that right, friends! Mama is gettin’ herself a freaking treadmill desk! I need one of these…I mean NEED. And I don’t mean “need” like “want”…I mean “need” like I NEED food and water. Okay, so maybe the situation isn’t *that* dire, but I have wanted to have a job where I could utilize a treadmill desk for YEARS and I am determined to make this happen. With the expenses of a new house and moving so far, I don’t know how we are going to afford this yet, but trust me, I will make this a reality. Can’t you just picture me…planning races, making big stuff happen, all while burning calories and getting fit? That’s the ultimate in multi-tasking! I’d be able to keep the longest run streak EVER with a treadmill desk!

Photo courtesy of TrekDesk

Being an engineer, I had originally planned on crafting one myself, until I saw the TrekDesk. I still think I could design and make a pretty awesome treadmill desk, but I do not have time for those shenanigans right now, so TrekDesk it is! Now I just need to figure out how to pay for it…and pay for a treadmill. To that end…

ANNOUNCEMENT! I am now taking financial backers for katieRUNSthis! Ha! I kid, I kid. But seriously, if you have a wad of cash lying around and you want to help me invest in my health, I would be more than happy to let you buy me a treadmill and treadmill desk. After all, I just want to be like Bart Yasso when I grow up.

Photo courtesy of my friends @runhers!

As far as treadmills go, I think this one from Cybex is pretty fancy. Plus, it helps raise funds for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF).

I’m normally not a huge fan of pink…but it does support a great cause!

I also like this one from ProForm. I mean, with the Boston Marathon logo smack dab on the side, how could you NOT be inspired daily? Get me to Copley Square!

In all honesty, I will probably end up with a used one from a garage sale or Craigslist. There has got to be someone who is tired of just hanging clothes on theirs, right?

Do you have a job that allows you to not work for THE MAN? If so, what are your favorite perks? If you do still work for the man, what would you change if you could?

TurboFire/Shakeology Program: Initial Reactions

24 Apr

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post

Yesterday afternoon I raced home to pick up my TurboFire/Shakeology Challenge Pack! I was like a kid in a candy store and I may or may not have actually done a happy dance when I had the box in my hands!

Want to know what I got? Here is a quick intro…

Note: The weighted gloves were not part of the challenge pack. I ordered these separately. This is an accessory that is also available through Beachbody. I wanted to really get my arms toned, so I will be using them with the TurboFire program.  You can find them in the Beachbody store under “TurboJams Gear.”

As soon as I got everything out of the box and set up on my table, I got down to the business of taking my “before” photos and recording my beginning measurements. While I know that taking before photos and measurements is an essential step, the whole process made me cringe. Shedding my shirt, standing there in from of the camera in my running knickers and a sports bra…Oh Lord, I felt gross. And then I started taking my measurements.

The last time I took my measurements was a couple of years ago when I was being fitted for a bridesmaid dress. At the time, I was working out regularly and I was pretty proud of my numbers. Yesterday? Yeah, notsomuch. Seeing the numbers written down in my notebook made me tear up a little. It was a stark reminder of how much my body has changed and just how much work I have to do to get it back where I want it.

I had a pity party for a minute or two and then reminded myself that the only thing I can do is what I am doing…focusing on healthy eating and an exercise program. Diligence! Persistence! I have to keep reminding myself what the end goal is…fast, fun, happy running! I want to be a joyous, strong runner again!

Initial Reaction of Package Contents
It seems that Beachbody has given me all of the tools to be successful. In addition to the DVDs and resistance bands, there is ample literature explaining the methodology of the program, why HIIT training is so effective, and how to monitor your nutrition throughout the duration of the program. I didn’t have time to read all of this last night, but I plan to do so today. I want to follow the nutrition program as well so that I can truly maximize my results.

Initial Reaction of First Workout: Fire 30 Class + Stretch 10 Class
It took me a whole 2.7 seconds to fall in love with this workout. Once the DVD was in, absolutely no time was wasted jumping into the workout. This is good for me. I need something I can get in, work out, and get on with my day. The Fire 30 Class was about 35 minutes long and I TOTALLY feel like I got a good workout. By the time it was done I was dripping with sweat and I moved muscle groups that I haven’t used in SO long with just running. The Stretch 10 Class was a great way to wind down and the focus on stretching out the arms and rotator cuffs was a nice change. The rotator cuff is a body part that I rarely stretch out and the DVD serves as a good reminder that all parts of the body need attention. Today, I am feeling “good sore.” I am not so sore that I feel like I can’t do anything, but I am sore enough that I really feel like I worked hard. This is a phenomenal feeling! That slight soreness means I am triggering muscles that I hadn’t been in previous workouts and this is EXACTLY what I was hoping to achieve from this program. I am already looking forward to this evening’s workout! Woot!

Initial Reaction of Shakeology: Chocolate
After my workout, I went inside to make my first Shakeology shake. Normally, I will be drinking this for breakfast, but since it had not arrived until yesterday evening, I made it my dinner. Let me say this…I am really impressed with the way this stuff tastes! Although you can mix it with other things like skim milk, almond milk, etc., I just mixed it with tap water since I was kind of in a hurry (mama duties were calling!). The taste was really good and very chocolately. The best part? No weird chalky or powdery after taste. I have tried several other protein/nutritional shakes including EAS AdvantEdge (Rich Chocolate), Big Train Fit Frappe (several flavors), and Spiru-Tein (Chocolate). This product, by far, has a smoother texture and better taste, though I will say it compare most closely by taste to the Big Train products. I look forward to trying some of the shake recipes that were included in the package!

This morning, I made another shake and ate an apple. I have not felt this full after an “on the go” breakfast in a really long time! I am excited to see the long-term effects of the Shakeology program. If you are interested in learning more about just the Shakeology, you can check out their website or YouTube it to see personal results videos.

(Side Note: I will put it out there that I did sign up to be a Beachbody coach…mostly for the discounts. Hello? Who doesn’t like to save money?? However, if you are interested in trying anything from Beachbody, it would be cool if you ordered it through me. No pressure, but if you have any questions or want to order anything, you can always e-mail me.)

So, that brings me to today. I’m going to spend some time today really understanding the nutritional guide and making a grocery list. I want to stock my refrigerator and pantry with all of the right things so I have no excuse not to make healthy eating choices. And like my friend, Kristyn, suggested…I plan on shopping from the edges of the grocery store as much as possible! I also want to plan out meals that work for ME, as some of the recipes suggested on the plan include ingredients that make me gag.

As always, I will be blogging this whole journey. That way, if it works and I have crazy good results, I can remember exactly how I got there! In the meantime, I will be using MyFitnessPal to log my daily meals, water intake, and what not. If you are on there, add me as a friend! You can find me under username “katiemkey”.

In other (equally EXITING!) news…Nuun is announcing the women they have selected to participate in the Nuun Hood to Coast Relay teams! There will be three all-female, all-blogger teams and I really hope I make the cut! I heard about this last year via other bloggers I follow who participated. The experiences they shared were incredible and it looked like so much fun, so I wanted to make sure I got my name in the hat for this year. I submitted my entry a few weeks ago and I have been anxiously awaiting the announcement. The selected members will be announced today at 12PM PST! Fingers crossed! I have never been to that part of the country and I have never run Hood to Coast before and I feel like this would be an experience of a lifetime! And to represent an awesome company like Nuun? Yes, please!

What’s happening in your world today? Are you mixing up your workouts? Are you trying any new products that you like and think I should check out too?

“I can’t lose weight.”

25 Jan


Mayday! Mayday! Its a plateau! (SHRIEK!)

The first key is to figure out what made the scale stop. Are you actually watching what you are eating? Are you exercising like you are supposed to? Are you doing your cardio in your target heart rate’s fat burning zone?

If you have been pretty sedentary, you will find it relatively easy to drop a few pounds by only adding light cardio and watching what you eat when you first get started. Eventually though, your body gets used to it and the scale gets…well, stuck. I completely understand how frustrating it can be to continue doing all the “right” things and still…nothing. I am currently at that point right now. It is disheartening…and discouraging…and it can even cause the weak-willed to give up on their weight loss goals completely.

Here is the bad news: You have to stick with it.

Here is the worse news: You might just have to try something new. GASP!

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. ~ Albert Einstein

Provided you really have been exercising and eating right (and, no, that late-night Twinkie you ate because you were STARVING does not count as “eating right”), you may have to break out of your comfort zone and try something different. When I first started on my journey to a fitter lifestyle, if you had told me all the things I would try on my path to improvement, I would have given you the stink eye. At the time, telling me that I would eventually try things like diet cleanses, drinking my greens, and rock climbing all seemed like “hippie” stuff and I probably would not have wanted any part of them. But when you want to reach your goal badly enough, you are willing to at least TRY new things.

Over the years, I have tried what feels like almost EVERYTHING to get my body to a point where I can look in the mirror and say, “I have worked hard and I am proud of this.” Lots of things did not work, but along the way, I found a handful of things that work really well for me. It is high time that I share them with you.

If you find yourself hitting a plateau with your weight loss, at least consider trying some of these things. You never know, you might find something that works for you!

You think you are eating well, but are you SURE? If you are not already, try keeping a food/exercise log. Write down every single thing that you put in your mouth and try and estimate your caloric intake. You might find out you are snacking a little more than you think. Also, reviewing your food choices might help you find alternatives for cutting a few more calories or incorporating a more well-rounded diet. If you do not want to do this old-school style with a notebook, there are plenty of free online tools that are available. My personal favorite is MyFitnessPal. If you sign up, look for my username (katiemkey) and add me as a friend! We can hold each other accountable and encourage each other! I have been slacking for the past…oh, several months…but I am back on the wagon as TODAY!

Don't hate. You know the wallpaper in my office is AWESOME.

I am a steak and potatoes kind of girl. Growing up in South Louisiana, our staple dinners revolved around things served with or on white rice or with or on white French bread. Refined sugars, much? I knew I needed to balance out my diet but the thought of downing broccoli made my stomach turn. One day, while complaining about eating carrots, a friend of mine (who happens to be the founder of LiveLong Nutrition) suggested I start drinking my greens. At first I was a little skeptical, but I knew I needed the balance. I ordered some and I have now grown to love drinking my greens! I am not going to lie, it takes some getting used to. When I first tried them, I had mix them with blueberry juice and water (the blueberry juice was strong enough to “hide” the taste of the greens), but now I just mix them with water, shake, drink, and go on down the road! You get used to the taste, I promise. I find that when I drink them I have more energy and increased mental clarity. I also feel like they keep my system flushed of junky stuff.

Body cleanses are not for the faint of heart. Different diet cleanses effect your body in different ways and you have stomach that churns easily, you will need to choose wisely. There are all kinds of cleanses ranging from 7 days to 2 months. I have tried many of them and I have finally found one that works great for me. I absolutely LOVE the 2-Part Cleanse and Flush Detoxify and Eliminate from Smoothie King. It is a 21-day cleanse and I can absolutely notice a difference in my body when I start this program…even within the first couple of days. In fact, when I quit breastfeeding, I could not wait to get out and pick up this cleanse to help flush my system. I have tried the cleanses that are in the 7-14 day range and they are just too harsh for me. I would go into more detail here, but suffice it to say, they are ROUGH on the system. I find that this cleanse, in particular, is effective and mild on my stomach. I have done it at least a handful of times now and I am currently on it now. I highly recommend it and for less than $25, it might be worth trying.

So, obviously I like to run, right? But did you know that I also love cycling, rock climbing, hiking, and Zumba? I did not know how much I would love these things until I forced myself to try them. In fact, after switching out one run per week with a workout on the bike, I have never trimmed inches and gotten faster with my running so quickly. Plus, the added advantage was that I was training myself for a duathlon without even realizing it! If you are in a running rut, consider adding a new type of cardio that challenges your body in a new way. Here are some things you might like:
• Cycling I swear it will help your speed!
• Zumba So long, muffin top!
• SUP (stand-up paddling) or YOLO boards This can be so relaxing and works out the core and shoulders big time!
• Boxing If you are leery, lots of boxing gyms offer at least one free class so you can try it out!
• Hiking Check out to find a place near you!

Looks fun, right?

If seeing the scale stuck on a number is getting you down…find something or someone that inspires you. There are stories all over the internet of people who have worked hard and lost 10, 20, 100, or even 200 pounds! Want to complain that you are too tired to push it in your work out today? Read a story about Serena Burla, a runner who defeated cancer and went on to the Olympic trials earlier this month. Or just check out the millions of YouTube clips of people competing in marathons and Ironman competitons with prosthetics. If they can overcome, so can YOU!

Okay, okay, so this one is obvious. You think you are already drinking enough? Drink a little more. I cannot reiterate this enough. Water helps replenish all those fluids you lose during exercise and helps you keep your energy up. And if you do decide to do a diet cleanse, drinking water will help you see even better results. I promise.

When all else fails, seek professional help. If you really have tried everything under the sun and you feel that absolutely nothing is helping, there might be some underlying issue that needs to be addressed. A registered dietician or other healthcare professional might be able to see something that you are not and might be able to get you over the hump and moving on to a fitter YOU!

As they say on Celebrity Fit Club, the scale doesn’t lie. Calories in have to be less than calories out. That is just the way it is. However, keep in mind that the scale is not everything. In the past, I have been 140 pounds and wearing size 8 jeans and I have been 140 pounds wearing size 4 jeans. Yes, muscle is denser than fat and therefore weighs more but do not use that as an excuse. Be conscious of the scale and be conscious of how you feel.

When you feel “stuck” or that you can’t push through, how do you get over the hump? What advice would you give to someone who feels stuck? What tips, products, or techniques work for you?

New Infant Swing = Lunges and Blogging!

14 Dec

My child has what a friend of mine delightfully refers to as a “witching hour.” I swear, like clockwork, my kiddo starts crying at 5:30PM on the dot and does not stop until 8:30PM. All afternoon long, I watch the clock start nearing the 5:30PM mark and I start getting antsy…knowing the wailing is coming.

Many of my friends suggested we get a swing for Baby Key since he seems to love motion. The only way we could calm him was to walk around and sway him or if I put him on my chest in the Moby wrap. While I enjoy holding my baby or wearing him close to me, sometimes I need a break. Sometimes I need the use of both hands. Dare I say it, sometimes I just need a moment away from my baby. This does not make me a bad mother, does it?

Last night, I pretty much had it. Granted, around the 8:30PM, he finally quieted, but those 3 hours are completely exhausting. I needed help. I decided that come hell or high water, the Keys were getting an infant swing. We NEED it.

So, this morning, at 7:00AM, I was walking through the doors of Babies R Us. (Can you believe that Babies R Us opens at 7:00AM during the holidays? And that next week they start being open 24-hours a day through Christmas day? That’s insane!) I was on a mission. This lady needed an infant swing.

I did a little research and decided the Fisher-Price Snugabunny Swing was the swing for us. Unfortunately, the $169.99 price tag was a bit steep for us, especially right here at the holidays. When I looked online, however, the website showed it for $129.99. Thankfully, the store honored the online price, and with $15 in gift cards, the swing was now in a more acceptable price range. HALLELUJAH! Armed with my new swing, I returned home, praying it would soothe my little one.

As soon as I got home, Mr. Key was ready to put it together. In a matter of moments, Baby Key was in it and quiet…cooing and gurgling…and, dare I say, content. It was a miracle! Since my child was born, the only time my child has been out of someone’s arms is when he is sleeping at night. He cries and acts fretful and is so hard to soothe. However, THIS is what happens with a comfortable infant swing…
Sleeping soundly!
SUCCESS! Do you see that!? THAT is a sleeping baby! WOOT!

Okay, so I know lots of other mothers have children that sleep in infant swings, but do you realize what this implies? This means that for brief periods of time, I can do something other than hold a baby. Even if I can get half an hour at a time out of this thing, I can find a way to be productive.

Squats in the living room.
Lunges up and down the hallway.
Free weights to work my arms.

And yes, even a few minutes to write my blogs! Woo hoo!

If I cannot get outside right now to go run with Baby Key, at least I can get in mini strength training workouts while he sleeps in the swing. I know that in returning to my pre-baby fitness level, I will have to do a lot more than just cardio and finding the time to work in long runs AND strength training is hard.

This swing may be a total game changer for me.

So long, flabby arms.
So long, untoned quads.
So long, weak calves.
Hello, semi-regular blogging!
You know, until I really get the hang of this mom thing…

I am armed with an infant swing. And right now, that makes me feel invincible. Look, I know that sounds ridiculous, but my kid is happy and quiet, so right now, that makes me Super Mom.

Pre-baby body, slowly but surely, I’m coming for you. Watch out. Mama is back!

So Fresh and So Clean, Clean!

7 Nov

When I was in high school, I had it ALL going for me…funky hair, glasses, braces, bumpy skin, and, OH! Did I mention that I was in all the “smart kid” classes too? Let it just suffice that the sum of all of these things amounted to me not being in the “A” group. Don’t get me wrong, I had lots of friends but we just were not the “cool kids.” Anyway, by the time I got to college I had blossomed a bit and gone were the bad hair and braces and my skin finally decided to behave itself.

However, when I started running, that ALL changed. The skin on my cheeks, chin, and forehead decided to channel my inner 15-year-old boy and break out. BAD. Like WORSE than I ever had it in high school. While I was thrilled to getting into running and doing something physical that made my body feel good, I was mortified at how my skin looked. What person in their mid-twenties wants to have acne!? YIKES!

While I did not experience this, I hear a lot of other runners also experience breakouts on their arms, legs, and even back. It’s not pretty, folks. However, it also is not something that a lot of runners like to talk about. Even though adult acne (caused by sweating from running, cycling, or other physical activity) is not something we should be ashamed of, it is certainly something that a lot of people do not like to discuss.

I tried everything. I cannot even begin to tell you how much money I wasted on fancy department store face washes, creams, exfoliants, scrubs, masks, gadgets, and more. Literally, I have probably invested hundreds of dollars trying to find the right combination of products that keeps my skin blemish-free without drying it out. Honestly, some of the best products I have found come right from my local pharmacy.

To wash my face, I use Clean & Clear Morning Burst Facial Scrub (~ $5). I make sure that any face wash I use is oil-free because my face gets plenty oily when working out. I really like the smell of it and the beads in the scrub feel good on my face in the morning. I have also been known to use this as an all-over body scrub in the summer when I get breakouts on my shoulders and arms.

After I wash my face, I like to use Clearasil Ultra Rapid Action Pads (~ $7). I used to use an astringent but I find the Clearasil pads are a little stronger and really make me feel like I am getting my face CLEAN. When I do have breakouts, the pads sting just a little but they do help get any bumps or pimples cleared up really quickly.

After I get my face all cleaned and fresh feeling, I really like to put on some sort of moisturizer. I am really picky about these because, as I mentioned before, I do not like adding any more oil to my skin. Even though it is “nighttime” cream, I really like Aveeno Intense Relief Overnight Cream (~ $8). A small amount goes a long way, so this tube seems to last FOREVER. In the fall/winter, my skin gets drier and itchier and this really helps with that. Keep in mind that it does not have any SPF protection, so you might want to consider adding a skin protectant as well if you need that. For my favorite running sunscreen, you can click here.

When I am on-the-go and end up hitting the gym or if I do not have time to do my full routine, I LOVE these Neutrogena Deep Clean Sport Wipes (~ $7 for a box of 18). They are super convenient because they are individually packaged and you can easily throw them in your gym bag, backpack, or purse. You do not have to worry about them leaking or busting in your bag. I keep at least one in my purse and one in my console of my car. That way, if I go for a run around a different neighborhood or the lakes at a nearby college campus I can get my face clean and sweat-free right when I get back in my car. Super handy!

There is also a new line of skin care focused at athletes that I have seen at the store but have not tried yet. It is called Mission Athlete Care. I have seen it at both my local pharmacy and big box discount store. I have read good reviews of it but do not know anyone who has personally tried it. I might consider trying this when I run out of one of my above staples just to see how it works. I will let you know how it goes!

How do YOU care for your skin after getting all sweaty? What are YOUR favorite products and where do you get them? Have you tried Mission Athlete Care? If so, what do you think of it?

Running Fuel: Peanut/Nut Butter

31 Oct

“When it comes to the food choices runners can make, you can’t do much better than peanut butter.” – Nancy Clark, author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook

I have a serious addiction to peanut butter. Looking back, I think I have eaten peanut butter (at least a spoonful) in one way or another every single day over the last several years. Well, let me back track…I love not only peanut butter, but just about any type of nut butter.

Not only is peanut butter tasty, but it is one of the satisfying foods a runner can add to his/her diet. For example, a piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter on it will make you feel fuller than a plain piece of white toast. This fullness lasts much longer than if you had consumed simple carbohydrates alone (like pretzels, bananas, etc.). Simple carbohydrates spike your insulin levels for energy, but can quickly drop off half-way through your workout. Peanut butter and other nut butters provide a slower, more even release of energy. Extra protein is most beneficial for runners seeking to repair muscle damage caused by intense training. In addition, protein and fiber in peanut butter pack quite a punch and fuel you better without adding lots of “bad” fat. The type of fat in peanut butter is called unsaturated fat. It can help lower cholesterol and, in general, make the heart function better…also great for runners!

The first step in adding peanut butter to your diet is to find the right type of peanut butter. Be sure and find the most natural or low-sugar kind that you can, with the fewest ingredients. Often, very natural nut butters will separate in the jar a bit, with oil forming on top. This is okay and should not scare you off. This just means the nut butter you are eating does not contain anything funky like partially hydrogenated vegetable oil as a binder. (This is good.) You might have to stir it up a bit before eating it, but the health benefits of fewer ingredients are worth the 5 seconds you spend stirring it up.

Here are some of my favorite choices for peanut/nut butters:

Usually, I just grab a spoon and scoop out a spoonful for a little extra energy or before heading out for a run. The individual packets are extremely handy for snacking on-the-go and are not messy at all. I can typically find all of these brands at my local Whole Foods, Super Target or Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market.

When incorporating peanut butter into a snack or a meal, I like to get creative and try and add in some other ingredients for extra carbohydrates and vitamins. Here are some of my favorite concoctions.

Peanut Butter + Honey + Banana + English Muffin = Breakfast of Champions!
I start out by toasting the English muffin. Once it gets warm and toasty, the peanut butter spreads on really easily. This usually lets me use less peanut butter (saving a few calories) with still getting the same flavor. Drizzle a little honey and then topped with little sliced rounds of banana.

Peanut Butter + Honey + Red Delicious Apple + Whole Wheat Bread = Best Sandwich EVER.
I never thought this would be a yummy sandwich until I actually ordered it at a vegetarian restaurant several years ago. It was so delicious and I was determined to make it at home, though healthier with lower sugar peanut butter and much less honey than they had used. The key here is slicing the apples thin and putting a little peanut butter on both pieces of the bread so that everything sticks together. I’m not a huge fan of tart apples, but I have been told it is delicious with those as well.

Peanut Butter + Strawberry or Grape Jam or Jelly + Reduced Fat Plain Graham Crackers = Unconventional Chilled Treat.
I first had this yummy delight while walking the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. You basically make a PB&J but with graham crackers instead of bread. The kicker here is to then wrap them in wax paper or saran wrap and stick them in the refrigerator or freezer for a little while to get it good and chilled. It is delicious, especially when the graham cracker starts getting a little soft from the moisture in the peanut butter and jelly. It is pretty important that you chill these to make the PB&J mixture firm. If you eat it right away, it will just squish out the sides. Just trust me on this one and try it!

Andre the Giant!

NEW PRODUCT ALERT!!Did you know that Gu Energy is now making a peanut butter flavor energy gel? Yes! I have not been able to find it yet, but I can assure you that all hell might break loose when I get my hands on them! Must. Find. Them.

Are YOU a peanut butter fanatic like me? How do you eat your peanut butter? What are YOUR favorite brands and flavors?

Product Review: Attune Foods Uncle Sam Cereal

22 Jul

When training for a race or multi-sport event, most athletes get excited about get together their training plans. The other half of a good training plan is a good nutritional plan. In order to train effectively, you have to provide wholesome fuel to your engine. You can not expect your body to pump out amazing fartleks or training bricks if you are starting your day with bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits or jelly doughnuts. (Well, maybe some of you can, but this girl definitely can not.) Plus, starting my day with a healthy breakfast helps keep me on track with eating healthy all day.

When I first got the package, I immediately opened it and ate a few pieces dry. I am not normally the type of person that loves “all-natual” type cereals (c’mon, I was raised on Frosted Flakes and Corn Pops!). However, I was pleasantly surprised with this! As I ate a little bit of it, my husband watched me…fully expecting me to spit it out. 🙂 I was like, “Hey! This is…GOOD! Try this!” He ate some too and also enjoyed it.

The next morning I decided to fix a bowl for breakfast. At first I was a little hesitant at the ¾ cup (55g) serving size, as it did not seem like very much. I measured that amount out though and it was a lot! The cereal is dense so you really get more “food” in your ¾ cup amount than some other puffed up cereals. I added ¾ cup (6oz) of skim milk and a small side of blueberries. Upon tasting it, it did seem a little too unsweet for my taste. I added one packet of Splenda and it was perfect. It tasted delicious! What’s even better? It actually kept me FULL!

3/4 cup (55g). That's a lot of cereal!

Being pregnant, I try and eat a healthy “meal” (oversized snack) at least every three hours. Most bowls of cereal are totally gone for me and leaving me hungry after about an hour or hour and a half. This really stuck with me and made me feel full. I really liked that a lot.

Yesterday, I decided to make another bowl for breakfast. Wanting to try something different, I went with slightly less than the serving size…about 2/3 cup (41g). I wanted to see if a smaller amount would keep me full as long as before. Instead of skim milk, I prepared it with ½ cup (4oz) of almond milk. The natural slightly sweeter taste of the almond milk worked a lot better. It eliminated the need for the Splenda altogether! Yay! I found that this amount of the cereal kept me full just as long as before. Thank you, extra fiber and protein!

2/3 cup (41g) + 1/2 cup (4oz) almond milk. Perfect!

A healthy breakfast that actually keeps me full for 3 hours for under 300 calories? Yes, please!

Obviously, if you are training and need more calories, you could always up the serving size and throw in some bananas. For now though, this pregnant lady is just trying to gain healthy weight and stay energized for her workouts.

And you know what the real kicker is about this cereal? There are only four (yes, FOUR) ingredients! HEYO! We all know that the fewer the ingredients, the better and I was SHOCKED to see that there were only four ingredients in it! That means there is real FOOD in this food. I love that!

Overall, two big thumbs up on this cereal. I will certainly be adding it to my list of things to stock up on when I hit up Whole Foods every couple of weeks! You can also buy it at Trader Joe’s (which we don’t have here…BOO!) and Wal-Mart (though it takes an act of Congress to get me to venture there).

If you would like to know more about this cereal or about the company, in general, be sure and check out their website. They are also active in other realms of social media (right up my alley!) so you can also catch them on Twitter and facebook. Be on the look out for their #attune chats on Twitter in the mornings; you can ask questions about the products or find out what’s new!

Eat up, kids, it’s YUMMY!

Product Love Affair: Johnson’s Foot Soap

6 Jun

Everyone who runs knows that most runners have funky ogre-like feet. The callouses. The blisters. The lost toe nails. It just is what it is. I could literally stand to get a pedicure probably twice a week. However, at $35 a pop, spending $70 a week for softer feet just is not feasible.

But, never fear! I always make time for Salon de Katie! It’s the swankest place in town and it is always open. And the added bonus is…I don’t even have to leave my house!

Once upon a time, my husband loaded trucks for UPS. This was a tough job that required him to spend many hours on his feet in heavy steel-toe work boots. (Steel toe boots can also quickly give you a case of ogre-feet.) He started using Johnson’s Foot Soap to relieve his tired, achy feet.

When we started dating, I was always complaining about how tired my feet were after training runs. When he told me about Johnson’s Foot Soap and what it did, I knew I had to get some ASAP! Look, I don’t know if it’s the borax, the iodide, or if its little magic elves that hop in the water and make my feet feel better, but all I do know is that I’m a Johnson’s Foot Soap lover for life. It makes your skin so much softer and really takes away the aches that set in on long training runs.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not giving up on my spa pedicures forever, but I definitely get them much less often now that I can do my foot soaps at home!

For my foot soap baths, I used this awesome tub that I got from Ikea. It was only $14.99 and I use it for EVERYTHING! We have several of them.

Ikea BOHOLMEN Rinsing tub

Each box contains several packets of foot soap. Just empty a packet into the tub and add hot water. Make sure to stir it up well to get it all sudsy!


Then, stick your feet in and enjoy! Personally, I like the water extra hot.

Lettin' the magic happen!

You can get Johnson’s Foot Soap at just about any pharmacy. I usually get mine at CVS or Whole Foods. CVS and Walgreen’s also make store brand versions of foot soaps. While these products are similar, I do not find they work quite as well as the real deal. This stuff is great for runners or really anyone who spends a lot of time on their feet!