Turmeric

Turmeric

One of the first spices I used in my quest to be healthier was turmeric.  Turmeric’s main active ingredient is curcumin which is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties.  A few years back, I was trying to wean myself off some medications and spoke to a holistic nutritionist who recommended I take a daily dose of turmeric.  This week’s tip is to consider adding turmeric to your diet as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Inflammation has been linked to almost all major diseases and is of great concern to me as a contributor to Alzheimer’s disease.  Alzheimer’s is associated with the build-up of plaques in the brain and I worry about the impact of long term inflammation on my brain.  Curcurmin is thought to fight these plaques so I’ve decided to take it as one of my supplements.  I read that mixing curcumin with fat seems to supercharge absorption rates, so I add turmeric to my superfood morning coffee.  I also take an additional  supplement daily.

While it is not a guarantee, I think turmeric is a worthy addition to my overall plan.  If you decide to take turmeric, try to get one that is coupled with black pepper as it is thought to aid in absorption.

This is the brand I have been using for a few years.

 

 

 

Do you use turmeric?  How has it helped you?  Please share your comments below.

Barefoot Training

Barefoot Training

After my ankle tendon surgery, I thought I’d never walk barefoot again.  In fact, I thought barefoot walking was bad for me and avoided it at all costs.  I even kept a pair of shoes next to my bed to put on immediately upon waking.  I believe it was said to me at some point that barefoot was not a good idea for me.

When I began reading how to strengthen my feet and ankle tendons, I was surprised to see barefoot walking as one of the recommendations.  I tried to increase the amount of time I walk in the house without any shoes and ended up with three broken toes.  Not a great plan.  Anyway, I’m not giving up on this idea and recently did some more reading about it.  Many runners advocate for shoes that have zero drop, or are closer to replicating barefoot running.   I did buy a pair of zero drop running shoes and tried using them all winter on the treadmill.  Unfortunately, when I transitioned to outside I began having pain in my ankle tendon.  This caused me to rethink my plans.

I plan to strengthen the balancing muscles in my feet and ankles in hopes of improving my running.  I realized I must transition to zero drop shoes a bit more cautiously and if you are a woman who wears heels a lot you will likely need to do the same.  I have tight Achilles tendons and poor ankle mobility, especially in my left ankle.  Running in my minimalist shoes led to overuse pain in my peroneal and achilles tendons.  Thankfully, I listened to my body and stopped immediately.  Taking a step back here is the plan to transition and strengthen my barefoot work.

Starting immediately, I will be doing all my warm up work (Silly Toes) barefoot.  This routine will be done every day, whether I am running or not.  It actually feels so good to stretch the lower legs out.

Barefoot BOSU work will strengthen balance and ankle mobility.  One leg balance routines are extremely helpful in strengthening smaller muscles in the ankles and are fun to perform on the BOSU.

Wearing my minimalist shoes for workouts other than running and even getting a pair for walking should also help strengthen my lower legs and feet.  Finally, I plan on walking barefoot whenever possible in the house but will be sure to avoid metal doors this time!

Are you a runner who uses zero drop, or barefoot shoes?  How did you transition?How has it improved your running form?  Please do share as I am interested in learning.

BOSU Ball

Recipe Swap – Turkey Cutlet

Recipe Swap – Turkey Cutlet

The other day our store had a great sale on organic turkey breast cutlets.  We figured why not give them a try and see how they taste.  We like turkey enough on Thanksgiving and honestly the sale was too good to pass up.  We bought a few packs and froze some, which I’m not a fan of.  I prefer my food fresh, but with the price of organic chicken so high it was worth making an exception.

This weekend, we were in the mood for fried cutlets.  We don’t have them often, but we just really wanted some comfort food.  Of course I used my avocado oil for a healthier frying option (higher smoke point).  The cutlets were breaded and fried up then drained on paper towels to remove some of the oil.  While not the healthiest way to cook, they were juicy and delicious.  If my kids were still home I doubt they would have noticed they weren’t chicken.

Both turkey and chicken cutlets are healthy protein options for your meals.  They are quite similar in nutritional makeup with turkey coming in only slightly lower in calorie count.  The decision to eat one over the other will really come down to your personal taste preference.  For me it was a nice change of pace and I will definitely rotate them into my protein selection.  Here are two popular recipes that call for turkey cutlet that I’m making this week.

Turkey Cutlet Sandwich with Smoked Paprika Mayo and Roasted Peppers

Ingredients

2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 pound turkey cutlets
4 baguettes sliced in half
2 bell peppers sliced and roasted

Directions

  1. Mix mayonnaise and paprika.
  2. Season cutlets with avocado oil, paprika, salt and pepper.
  3. Spread mayo over cut side of toasted bread halves. Top each bottom half with cutlets, then 1/4 of peppers.

Turkey Cutlets with Lemon-Caper Sauce

Ingredients

Flour
1 pound turkey cutlets
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons capers
lemon wedges

Directions

  1. Make sure to trim your cutlets so they are thin.
  2. Combine flour, salt, and pepper; dredge turkey in mixture.
  3. Cook in skillet with avocado oil in batches, 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Remove from skillet and cover to keep warm.
  4. Add white wine and lemon juice to skillet, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet. Cook 2 minutes or just until thoroughly heated.
  5. Stir in garlic and capers
  6. Spoon sauce over turkey.

 

I’m looking forward to trying out some other new recipes with my turkey cutlets.  These two are favorites for chicken cutlet, so I’m really just swapping out the meat.  If you have a turkey recipe you’d like to share, please post in the comments below.

 

Finding Your Tribe

Finding Your Tribe

Wanted – Running group.  Must be supportive and fun loving.  Willing to run early mornings and drink IPA beers after races.  Interested in exploring new routes and suffer through hot, humid days of summer.  Must be willing to sacrifice pace on occasion if group member needs company.  No runner left behind.

Running is very often a one person sport, especially when training for longer distance races.  During my half marathon training last year, I did 100% of the training runs alone.  Partly this was due to the fact that I don’t like the pressure of trying to run at someone else’s pace. I am a slower runner and when I try to run with others I often start to feel bad about myself because I can’t keep up.  I’ve found solace in music and meditation as I run, but it sure would be nice to run with others.  Definitely would make the miles go by faster.

This year as I get ready to begin training for the marathon, I’ve decided to try again to run with others.  Now, I just need to find my tribe – people who run at a pace similar to mine, or are willing to run with me regardless of pace.  I am a member of an online running club and love how supportive this group is.  When I ran my first half marathon, it was with this club.  We all met in the shadows of the steel stacks in Bethlehem, PA for a weekend of running events at the Runners World Festival.  These people were my phone and computer friends, none of which I had ever met in person prior to that weekend.  I must say it was slightly unnerving to attend an event with strangers, but I just knew it was going to be awesome.

Sub30 is a group of runners who share the goal of running a sub 30 minute 5K race.  But, it is so much more than just that.  It is a club that includes people from all over the country.  They share many goals, the most important of which is positivity.  The heart of the group is the ideal that we lift others up and no subber is ever left behind.  During my weekend at the Runner’s World Festival, this running club’s support was incredible to see and receive.  There were people pacing others, sacrificing any PR goals to support another to their goals.  There were people cheering at every race for anyone in the club, strangers or not.  And, there were people near the finish waiting to run in with members of the club, those last steps.  What a true testament this club is to the running community.  It was something so wonderful to experience in person.

 

With this club experience in mind, I decided this year to try to participate more in my local clubs.  I had joined two last year but never attended any of their group runs or events.  This week I attended my first group meet up with a local running club.  While everyone was friendly enough, I didn’t get the same feel as I did from the Sub30 group.  It just seemed like I went to this event to run alone leaving me wonder if I really needed to drive there to do that.  I will definitely give it another try though.  Perhaps on other evenings there will be others who run at a slightly slower pace.  The whole experience left me wishing my Sub30 crew lived closer and wondering why all clubs don’t embrace the same goals.

I have a second club that I’m a member of which is not quite as local.  It is in Manhattan and they meet up on Saturday mornings.  I get a really good feeling about this running club, but the location makes it more challenging for me to get to.  It’s hard to commit to driving in to Manhattan on Saturday mornings when I generally go to Queens to check in on my parents.  I’m trying to work out the logistics though because I’d love to see how this club operates.

I used to prefer to run solo, but recovering from these last two injuries have left me really struggling to regain my confidence.  I’m afraid of re-injuring myself each time I lace up.  I’m questioning my abilities as I struggle through what used to be so easy for me to do.  I’m wondering when running became so hard and how even though I ran with broken toes all winter I’ve lost so much conditioning.  I know that if I could find a good, supportive tribe I could regain my confidence.  The support of the running community is what I need now to push me through.  Running doesn’t have to be this hard and the energy of others will lift me up.

After struggling to keep up with my training schedule as my injury healed, I have finally decided I cant do this alone anymore.  It’s time I step outside my comfort zone and find a running club, or partner, that I can actually run with on a regular basis.  Going to the local meet up this week was the first step and even though it wasn’t amazing, it won’t be the last.

Do you have a local running club you run with?  How did you find your tribe?  I’d love to hear about how the power of this human connection impacted your journey.  Be sure to leave a comment below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sleep Your Secret Weapon

Sleep Your Secret Weapon

My sleep struggles are well known to anyone who has received an email or text from me at 3:00 AM.  My midnight musings are well documented and laughed about.  Sometimes I find people during the day and say, “Last night I was thinking..”, followed by my latest idea.  It seems that my mind is very active during the night and some of my best ideas come to me then.  I really was never concerned, or annoyed by it.  I’ve just come to accept the fact that I don’t sleep more than 5 hours a night.

I first wore my Fitbit to track steps, but soon discovered a second benefit to this little gadget.  Fitbit trackers have a sleep cycle option that provides you with data on the quality of your sleep.  While I doubt it’s totally accurate, it sure does open your eyes about how well, or not, you sleep.  The report also shows how restless you are, as well as how many hours you are likely in REM sleep.  All this data got my attention because I noticed I was very restless and not getting much REM, or deep sleep each night.  This was troubling because that is the restorative sleep that is so needed by my body.

After reading and researching issues with sleeping, I came up with the following plans:

Find Out How Much Sleep I Really Need?

I used the data from my Fitbit to establish how much sleep I really do need each night.  While I like to lay in bed and read, I was really only sleeping 5-6 hours a night.  Knowing this made me realize that going to bed at 8:00 PM would always have my body waking at 2:00 – 3:00 AM, making this nothing to stress about.

Establish a Sleep Cycle

Creating a routine has been very helpful to me.  I actually like waking at 3:00 – 4:00 AM.  I find it to be the most peaceful, yet productive time of day for me.  I like to have an hour or so to read and write.  I like to have an hour or so to exercise.  I like to not feeling rushed in the morning.  Knowing that I want to be awake by 4:00 AM the latest helped me establish a bedtime.  I am in bed ready for sleep by 9:00 PM each night, unless of course we have an event.  Thankfully my husband likes the early morning too, as does my dog, so it’s all good.

Establish a Nightly Routine

Unplug your technology, including the phone, prior to bedtime.  I unplug by 7:00 PM each night to allow myself time to unwind.  I open the window to make the room slightly chilly as this can improve your sleep.  In the winter I turn down the thermostat slightly.  I am not a fan of television but do like to read in bed.  This works perfectly for me as it also helps me to fall asleep, unless it’s a thriller!

It is important to sleep in a dark room, so black out the room to improve your sleep.  Research has shown that exposure to blue light greatly affects your sleep cycle.  Blue light, or light that comes from most of our devices, suppresses the production of melatonin more than any other type of light.  This is why it is critical to unplug at night to ensure better sleep.  If you simply must use your devices at night, they sell orange glasses that you can wear to block the blue light.  They are quite funny looking, but who cares if they work.  I keep a pair on my night table for nights I want to catch up on email.

Improving sleep can greatly improve your health.  Getting adequate amounts of sleep each night can help you lose weight and gain strength.  When you are not getting adequate sleep, your body can produce more cortisol causing weight gain.  When you get adequate sleep, your body may have an increase in testosterone causing strength gains.  This sounds like a win-win to me, making it worth the time spent improving my sleep cycle.

How are you sleeping these days?  If you could improve your sleep with a few simple changes, would you?  Please share below.

Mentioned in Article:

Avocado Oil

Avocado Oil

People tout the many health benefits of using coconut oil.  Some even suggest eating it as a super food.   Others say you should swap it for your olive oil when cooking, or on salad.  I tried cooking with coconut oil and noticed it changed the taste of my food.  Coconut oil has a very distinct flavor and using it in my recipes changed the taste of my meal and not always for the better.  Even in my super food coffee, I noticed a different taste when using coconut oil.  This sparked me to start researching oils to see what other options were available to me.

Cold pressed olive oil is still a staple oil in my home, but no longer my first choice.  In my personal opinion, the best choice for a healthy oil is avocado oil which is produced from the avocado fruit.  This oil is made from the pulp surrounding the pit, not the seed.  Avocado oil doesn’t have a strong flavoring that overpowers, or competes with the flavor of foods.  It also has a high smoke point which makes it ideal for cooking.

When choosing an oil for cooking it is extremely important to learn about its smoke point.  This is the temperature at which your oil begins to smoke in the pan.  Healthy oils, like olive oil, can become unhealthy when they reach their smoke point because it begins to break down and nutrients are lost.  Further, dangerous compounds can be created which are detrimental to your health.  I always used olive oil in my cooking and had no idea about this!  I no longer use olive oil for cooking and have replaced it with avocado oil.  Unlike coconut oil, this oil does not overpower my food.

When using any oil for cooking, it is very important to consider the smoke point (the temperature at which the oil starts to be visibly smoking in the pan) of the oil. Even a healthy oil like benefit-rich olive oil becomes unhealthy when it reaches its smoke point. When an oil reaches its smoke point, the structure of the oil begins to break down, nutrients are lost, flavor is changed and most dangerously, compounds can be created that are damaging to your health. Avocado oil’s high smoke point make it a top choice for any frying, browning or sautéing recipes.

I use avocado oil on my salads, as well as cold pressed olive oil.  I find the oil to be very versatile and it has become my go to oil for cooking.  Further, there are said to be many health benefits to using it including improving heart health, lowering cholesterol, arthritis support and skin care.  I buy my avocado oil online, but I have seen it available in Costco.  I don’t like to purchase super large containers of oil as I prefer my oil to be fresh.  I also don’t purchase oils in plastic containers ever!

Spend some time learning about the oils you use.  I think you will be shocked by what you learn.  I never knew there were so many different types of oils, or the dangers of using the wrong oil for cooking.

What type of oil are you using?  Please share your experiences below.

Avocado Oil I Use:

Breathing Easy

Breathing Easy

Anyone beginner runner knows that breathing can be extremely challenging at times.  With so many other things to think about, like pace and form, breathing shouldn’t be so hard.  This week’s training tip is one that has been helping me catch my breath on runs.

When you breathe through your chest, shallow breathing, you take in less oxygen.  It’s important to learn how to belly breathe, using your diaphragm, to increase intake of oxygen. To practice and learn how to engage in belly breathing, try this simple exercise:

  • Lie down on your back and place both hands on your belly.
  • Keep your upper chest and shoulders still.
  • Focus on raising your belly as you inhale. Feel it with your hands.
  • Lower your belly as you exhale.
  • Inhale and exhale through both your nose and mouth.

Once you feel the difference, practice this breathing standing, walking and then running.    It is hard when you are running, or gasping, so really practice the technique first in non running options.

My running coach told me to try and establish a breathing cadence, or pattern when running.  The easiest way for me to do this was to count my breathes in and out.  At first, I counted 1-2-3-4 on inhalation followed by 1-2-3-4 on exhalation.  I then tried to work my way up to 5 where I am currently.  Eventually I hope to get into a zone and not have to think so much about breathing.

Many people wonder about nose vs. mouth breathing during exercise.  While it would be wonderful to run like the wind and calmly breathe through my nose, that is not reality.  Reality is you get more oxygen when you breathe through your mouth, so why stress it.  Just breathe through your mouth and don’t complicate matters that don’t need complication.

Finally, when you are in the midst of a run, if you are gasping for air your pace is likely too fast.  Slow it down, catch your breath and continue at a comfortable pace.  Your breathing is a measure of your conditioning and it should develop and improve over time.  Continue to vary your workouts, practice your breathing techniques and gradually increase pace over time.

I hope this helps you breathe easy out on your run, or workout this week.  Give it and try and let me know if it helps.  Please share in the comments below.