December 27, 2013

Healthy You! Book Review and Giveaway

It's that time of year when we have fully sugared up our guts and are feeling lethargic for about 23.9 of the 24 hours each day. Because there are things like Nyaker's Ginger Snaps and Southern Comfort Egg Nog. And I don't even like ginger snaps, but those Swedish ones are so crispy and taste just like Christmas. Unfortunately, I like egg nog too much and hog the little half gallons by hiding them in the back of the fridge behind things like brussel sprouts and rutabagas. No one in my family but me is instigating a brussel sprouts transaction in the fridge, so the nog is safe there. 

Last year, around the end of January, I started a two-week program that really changed my whole perception of food. I still, as obvious from the first paragraph of this post, have some moments where I go overkill on large amounts of holiday junky food, but I have a stronger retract button than I did before.

So when I got a copy of Dawna Stone's Healthy You!: 14 Days to Quick and Permanent Weight Loss and a Healthier, Happier You, I was excited to find another practical two-week, healthy jump-start program that I knew could give me the energy and inspiration to detox from holiday gluttony and move on to a fresh eating slate. 

First, who is Dawna Stone? Among other amazing things, she's the founder of Women's Running. You know, this magazine for the ladies.

Second, what is Healthy You! all about? It's two weeks of dedication to healthy eating that will jump start you for a hopefully long love of healthy eating. First week is the elimination week, where you take out one item/category of food per day, like sugar, wheat, artificial sweeteners. She also outlines the purpose of eliminating these foods from your diet in the book. Some of them are to see if you have reactions to those foods when you reintroduce them, like wheat and dairy, and some are just in the general these-foods-do-not-make-you-feel-good category, like processed sugar and diet soda. 

I promise that if you just follow this week, you will feel a major difference in your clarity of mind. Especially if you have been eating like I have over Christmas break. Just taking out processed sugar alone will be like someone turning the lights on after being in a dark tunnel for years. At least that's how I felt the first time I tried it. 

Trying to process words through an egg nog coma.

For week two, the Clean Phase, you just maintain the elimination of the seven items you gradually eliminated over the first week. If you need meal and menu ideas, she's included all of that in the book as well.

If your goal is to drop weight, this will work. If your goal is to feel better, this will work. 
And hopefully through the experience, your relationship with food will change. This isn't a diet with portion sizes and points; it's a how-to guide on fueling your body with things that don't make you feel like crud. For me, losing weight is a side benefit of properly fueling your body. When I fuel my body correctly, my body finds its ideal weight. But more importantly, I feel 100% less grumpy. My kids appreciate that.

My daughter is the perfect age for skinny jeans in bright colors.

I started the Healthy You plan before Christmas, but I got too caught up in the holidays to give it 100%. But I still felt better having followed a modified version of the plan! One thing that Dawna does a great job of is setting realistic expectations and giving you real-life tips on how to keep yourself motivated without feeling like a complete failure when you eat a whole pack of Joe Joe's. Hint: don't do that if you want to feel good.

But I did lose the five pounds that I gained from Halloween and Thanksgiving, so modifications can still produce results. So I'm looking forward to actually buckling down and getting serious about following the plan after this week.

Now my husband has agreed to try it out with me (this is now on the internet and therefore cannot be retracted), and I'm looking forward to having a partner in healthy-eating crime.

Dawna was nice enough to let me ask her some questions that I thought of as I read the book (plus some fun Q&As for us runners!):

*    I've found that in the past I've given my kids the same food even when I changed what I ate. PB&J sandwiches are just so easy to make! How can I make it easier to get my whole family involved?

My kids are extremely picky (as I was when I was young) so I don’t push my healthy recipes on them. Instead, I encourage them to try a little taste of everything. I often find myself cooking one thing for my kids and another for my husband and me. Over time, I hope my kids will become more interested in trying new things, but at 4 and 6 they still want pizza bagels.

I have friends that make their children eat what they are eating, and if they don’t, they simply don’t eat at all. I’m not saying this is wrong; in fact, it would be nice to make just one meal. But as long as my kids are eating a well-balanced and mostly healthy meal, I’m not going to push halibut with a tomato and mango salsa or cranberry quinoa salad (two of my favorite Healthy You! recipes) on them. A typical dinner for my kids is chicken and green beans with a side of fruit or brown rice pasta and veggies. My son loves hummus and guacamole, and both my kids like brown rice pasta as much as regular pasta.

*      Eating healthier can sometimes be even more expensive. Do you have any tips on how to follow the plan for people on a tight budget?

It’s unfortunate that eating healthy costs more than eating poorly. I always look for items that are on sale and stock up if the item isn’t perishable. I love to buy organic produce, but it can get really expensive. If your budget doesn’t allow for always buying organic, you can still limit your exposure to pesticides by washing your fruits and vegetables with a special produce cleanser (found in your local health food and grocery stores). If you don’t have a special cleaner you can also use baking soda and water.

*      I love your idea for one cheat day. What day did you choose and why? 

      I typically make Sunday my cheat day. I found that starting fresh every Monday is something that mentally works for me. If I choose Friday or Saturday (two days that seem to make the most sense) I end up “cheating” all weekend. If I know that I can “cheat” on Sunday, I tend to make better choices on Friday and Saturday. Sunday works for me, but you need to pick a day that makes the most sense for you and your schedule.

*    What is the thing that most often knocks you off the healthy eating wagon, and what inspires you to get back on after falling off?

Like most people, I tend to overindulge during the holidays. Holiday parties, family gatherings and the stress of holiday shopping can really get me off track. I follow a few simple “rules” that help me avoid holiday weight gain but still allow me to indulge in moderation and enjoy all the festivities. I recently wrote a Holiday Survival Guide with my 10 tips for staying healthy during the holiday season. You can read all 10 tips here:

*    How do you fit running in with your travel/work/family schedule?

Fitting exercise into my crazy schedule isn’t always easy.  I found that in order to fit in exercise, I have to work out first thing in the morning. This “rule” is still the best way for me to get in a workout. If I wait until after work, something always comes up.  I’ve also found that I need to be more flexible when it comes to running. Before becoming a parent, I used to beat myself up if I missed a workout. Now, there are times when I only workout 2 or 3 times a week rather than my usual 5 times. I no longer feel guilty about missing a workout; instead, I just make sure those 2 or 3 workouts are really high quality. 

*    What's your favorite running workout/distance and why?

I’ve never been a social runner. I love swimming with a team and I love cycling with large groups, but I’ve always preferred to run on my own. When I’m not training for an event, I simply go out and run a steady and comfortable pace. My favorite distance has always been the half marathon, which is probably why I launched the Women’s Half Marathon series. It’s just long enough to feel like you really accomplished something amazing, but it’s not so long (like the marathon) that your workouts are taking away from your family time.

*    What's your favorite song for running?

My favorite song is always changing but right now I enjoy running to Katy Perry’s "Roar." (*me too!)

*    What is the one piece of running gear that you can't live without? 

I can’t live without my iFitness running belt (now Fitletic). I like to run with my phone, but the pockets in my running shorts or tights never seem to comfortably fit a phone. With my phone and an emergency $20 bill, I’m set for anything!

*    Are there any races in your near future? 

We’re thinking of doing a holiday family run this weekend. It’s just a 1-mile fun run, but I enjoy running with my 4-year-old son and my 6-year-old daughter. My son still needs to learn that he can’t run all out for the first 100 yards. The last fun run we did, I could barely keep up with him (and I’m not exaggerating). He took off like a speeding bullet, but he barely made it to the finish line.  At least he gave it his all! 

OK, she's cool, right?! I love the realistic attitude about feeding kids and fitting in workouts.

So here's the deal, Dawna and her team want to share Healthy You! with you guys too. Two of you will win a copy of her book to jump start your own healthy living in 2014. If you don't win or need it now, you can also purchase your copy on Amazon.

To enter: Leave a comment telling me one of your healthy living goals for 2014.

For bonus entries: These are completely optional! But if you do them, make sure to leave a separate comment for each so I can count them all.
* Like Dawna Stone on Facebook. Leave a comment telling me you do.

* Like (or already like) Yo Momma Runs on Facebook. Leave a comment telling me you do.

* Follow Dawna Stone on Twitter. Leave a comment telling me you do.

* Follow (or already follow) Yo Momma Runs on Twitter. Leave a comment telling me you do.

* Share this giveaway via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or your blog. Leave a separate comment for each share!

You have until next Wednesday, January 1st, to enter, so get to commenting and sharing! And if between now and then you are caught in a showdown with a half gallon of ice cream, windmills (like the breakdance kind) and chugging water are good distractions.

I received a free copy of Healthy You! for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own, and I am not receiving compensation for this post. And, side note, all you readers rock!

December 24, 2013

RRCA coaching certification and burgers bigger than faces

This has to be the best time of year in Alabama. The weather is occasionally cold, but mostly it's just a little rain mixed in with a little perfect. And although a lot of runners in these parts don't like running in the cold, I personally love it. It's so much better than struggling through sweltering humidity. 

Other than the weather, here are some other things making me happy right now. 

1. My daughter wrote and illustrated her first book, a children's book about how she planted some pepper seeds and forgot about them until she found a surprise pepper a few months later. We used Shutterfly to produce our limited edition.

The actual pepper she produced.

Our family in stick figures.

An excerpt from her book.

2. I found the perfect supplement for ultra runners.

3. We holiday partied with our neighbors and runner friends. 

Amory, Diane, and Bella.

Greg, Lisa, Mary, and Deonte.

Mike and Amory.

Chef Ripple and Ali at the BUTS (Birmingham Ultra Trail Society) party.

4. We listened to holiday concerts. Usually with wild spectators.

After Enoch's school concert.

After The Sawyer Singers concert at Wilson Chapel. 

5. And, of course, there was running. But I especially loved (a little too much) the snacks after the runs.

Sweeping the BUTS Bearly Ultra with my brother.

Friday long run, getting it out of the way before the weekend.

Eating burgers bigger than our faces after Life Time Run Club.

6. Our neighbor dressed up as Santa to spread holiday cheer. He sat on his porch in the spotlight waving at neighbors and making kids' wishes come true.

7. My dream combo aired on Saturday Night Live. 

8. I signed up to take my RRCA coaching certification course. Merry Christmas to me!

What are you most excited about this week? Above all else, I'm most excited about seeing more family this weekend. Reunions are the best!

If you could write a book, what would it be about? All I have time to write right now are pamphlets. So maybe a pamphlet on decluttering toy bins -- because I really need to research this area right now.

Holiday festivities? Which of your traditions make you happy?

December 18, 2013

Tranquility Lake 50K: racing without a watch!

This race was a few weeks ago, and because it was my last race of the year, I guess I gave myself permission to go into total slacker mode on posting my recap. But before the race, I was on my best behavior: eating and resting appropriately, tapering like a ninja (do they taper?), trying not to say swear words in front of my kids, doing good deeds for my neighbors -- you know, all the important stuff.

I even made a new play list

And ate my lucky sweet potato on race eve.

Getting there: This race is at Oak Mountain State Park. The most important thing you need to know about getting here is that they charge $3 to get into the park, and once you pass the front gate, you are still 10 minutes away from the race location. It's a large park.

Pre-race: We started this race near the BMX tracks, so there are on-site (clean!!) bathrooms. David Tosch, the race director, gave us a few course instructions, and we were off. Simple, non-fussy start.

Course: After a quick jog around the parking area to space out runners, we head right onto the trails. The most significant hill is the yellow-white connector, which I always take at a slow hiking pace, but there are lots of little hills in between. If you aren't careful, those little climbs in the first half of the race will burn up your legs. There are some significant downhill sections in the last four miles or so of the race. Perfect for a fast finish.

Also, the leaves were so thick, that the trails sometimes became invisible. But the race director came through and cleared off the worst parts of the trail, which made a huge difference at the start of the race.

There's a trail in there somewhere, right?

My race strategy: This race had two equal loops. I started the run with my brother, who was planning to do one loop, or about 15.5 miles, with me. We were also running with some of his running buddies, and I told them all that I was taking it slow on the first loop. And I pretty much stuck to that plan (shocking)! I didn't try and attack any hills, and I even took it pretty conservative on the downhills through which I normally love to stomp haphazardly.

My brother kept an easy pace with me. Photo by David Christy Photography.

And we tried to have fun and keep it loose. One way: practicing trail selfies with my fellow blogger All in Stride.

Next time: less neck and face tension, more teeth exposure (kidding). 

And we almost nailed it in this one. Almost. #shouldhavehadlongerarms #whoneedstheirwholefaceforapicture #synchronizedsmilesandopenmouths

Another part of my race strategy was to leave my watch at home, so I only saw my time at the middle and end of the race, as we looped through and back to the start line. This might have just been because I was too lazy to plug it in the day before the race or because I was just tired in general of worrying about numbers. It was liberating to not watch hawk for six hours, and trying to beat my time on my first lap motivated me through the tough spots of the second half. I wonder if I had seen that I was going slower on my watch if I would have gotten defeated and just gone slower in general. As it was, I ran the second loop 10 minutes slower than the first, although my overall effort was much higher.

Look, no watch! Photo by David Christy Photography.

Race execution: So there were some spoilers up there in the strategy segment, but I just want to emphasize here that running a race by feel is really energizing, liberating, and just a whole load of fun.

See: smiley fun.

See, my Garmin does not equal happiness. But running does.

So I stuck to the plan of sticking with my brother for the first loop. We got in behind a lot of people at the beginning of the race, and we slowly worked our way through people but stayed far enough back to not see the leaders of the race at any point during the first loop.

Our aid station stops were quick and to the point. That's one of my new favorite personal challenges: getting through aid stations as fast as possible. No loitering. 

I didn't even take enough time to pose for a non-awkward aid station photo. Just a crazy, weirdness face and go!

The face of a person who probably dresses her animals in holiday sweaters.

So after the first "easy" loop with my brother, I took a deep breath and plugged in my headphones so that I could get in the solo loop zone. I definitely pushed myself harder in the beginning of that loop, trying to run hills that I had walked the first time. 

About halfway through the loop, I caught up with the women who were in the lead, although I didn't know that at the time. I wasn't sure who was where, what, and when because there were a lot of unfamiliar faces at the race that day (yay for out-of-towners joining us!), and I had paid zero attention to that at the beginning of the race.

Photo by David Christy Photography.

Because I tried to pick up my speed on the second loop, I also managed to increase my falling a million fold. I didn't fall a single time on the first loop, but on round two, I tripped and fell and tripped and fell and then did it some more. I might have been better off just running a little slower and tripping less. I'm curious what the net time difference would have been with that strategy. Most of the falls were not huge, but I did fall on some rocks that caused some major pain. Not because my face or knee hit the rocks, but because I stuck my hand out to protect myself and in doing so jammed my whole arm and shoulder with the opposing force of solid rock. That jammed shoulder was my sorest body part the week after the race.

Knee, meet dirt. Photo by David Christy Photography.

After we passed through the final aid station, I tried kicking it into high gear. One of the other ladies (my friend Donna) passed me again, and I did my best just to keep her in sight. I lost her for a little while, but I caught up to her when we were headed downhill again. Turns out that she was running on a broken toe the entire race!!! I would never have guessed it because she looked like Xena Warrior Princess conquering the forest. 

With about 2 miles to go, there was a water cooler at which I needed to stop, but I skipped it because I knew that so many kids were hot on my tail. I had run out of water a couple of miles before that, but because it wasn't a hot day, I thought my body could handle it. Turns out that my body cannot handle it at the end of a 50K. With about a mile to go, I started to have some serious fade going on. I was weaving and had zero energy to pick up my feet. When I started walking and thinking (which was almost impossible at that point), I remembered that I had a gel left in my bag. I popped it open and downed it as fast as I could, almost in one gulp, whereas usually I like to slowly nurse them. 

The next moment was an eye-opener on the power of nutrition. I went from barely being able to move to having energy to run the rest of the way to the finish. Food matters! Drinks matter! I always knew this, but this just reminded me of that on a most basic level. Your body does not function without proper fuel, and it will function with it. Basic but vital info. 

As I crossed the finish (final time 6:15) with Donna less than 40 seconds behind me, they told me that I was the first woman to finish the 50K. That was a total shock. I had assumed that whole time that someone was in front of us. This was also one of the benefits of starting at the back of the pack: no knowledge of the front of the pack to psych you out. 

Finish party: Even though I made it to the finish, I was in rough shape nutritionally. Luckily my friends Bob and Melissa were there at the finish to hand me juice and water. I'm not sure I was coherent enough to take care of it on my own. And even though the temps felt great during the race, at the end I was freezing! I borrowed hats and coats from very generous fellow runners, who were nice enough to ignore that I was desecrating their stuff with my sweatiness. 

David Tosch, race director, and me (with my five jackets). 

This race series always provides a nice chill hangout environment for after the race. There were refreshments in the pavilion and a nice warm fire near the finish. I had hot soup and beans and rice, plus a lot more fluid, before I headed out. 

But I was still starving and had to take my car in for a tire rotation before I could get home, so I walked like a zombie from the car place to the nearby mall and ordered this in the food court. 

Here's a piece of advice: if you want to feel really out of place after a 50K, don't change clothes or even wipe the spit off your chin, and go to a crowded mall. Talk about opposite world. 

Swag: They gave out long-sleeve, men's Salomon shirts for this race. I love mine because it seems to run a little small, so the men's size actually fits. It's a nice thin material -- great for breathing but still giving some warmth.  

And all the 50K finishers received this medal. I'm not sure what the 25Kers received, but I'm pretty sure they got a medal too.

And I won a shoe certificate for a pair of Salomon trail shoes, but I somehow promptly lost it. People of the Internets: if you find that certificate, let me know. Really I'm hoping that it just shows up eventually around my house. It will, right?! At this point, knowing that it might be out there somewhere is inspiring me to clean out some junk, so that's a bonus.

Overall: This is a great 50K for a beginner because although it has some challenging elevation (yellow-white connector) and some rocky sections, it's overall fairly runnable. The cool weather typical for this time of year makes it a very smart 50K choice if your body doesn't agree with heat and humidity. The race directors are amazing and provide so much in the way of good food, great courses, and just general love and concern for the runners' welfare. They will stay out there and cheer and ring the cow bell for every single runner that crosses that finish line. Their next race is Lake Martin with a 27-mile fun run, 50-mile and 100-mile options. 

December 15, 2013

All Pro Science Complete: What is grass fed whey, and why use it?

How many of you out there have tried grass fed whey? If you are like me, I look at a giant bottle of that stuff and think, definitely for that body builder crew that we can hear (from inside the fragile, zen-music-playing cocoon of our yoga studio) awkwardly grunting and throwing their weights across the gym for no apparent reason.

But I did a little research, and here's what I found. Ever had a glass of milk go sour? Well, whey is basically the liquid stuff that separates from the curd stuff. But I'm sure they do it in a more sanitary way than just forgetting their glasses of milk on the counter. Plus, that would take a lot of forgetful people. So basically I'm saying that they can supply the brand by coming to my kitchen.

The benefits? Whey's considered a complete protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. It also has less lactose, so it's easier to tolerate if you are intolerant of the big-boy stuff. Or if you're like me, you are trying to avoid it because you believe it's giving you bacne. Also, it's supposed to help build lean muscle, something runners are kind of super into. Here's some more info on WebMD.

Oh, and the grass fed part just refers to what the cows are eating. They aren't feeding the whey grass, but now I can't get that picture out of my head.

The brand I tried was from All Pro Science, which is made in the USA. They have several flavors, but I tried out the banana creme. The flavor wasn't too intense, although definitely banana was there. If I were buying another tub, I'd go for the chocolate, which gets solid reviews for taste.

My sister, aka a health food ninja, checked it out for me on her last visit and gave it a stamp of approval for use. 

Here's a more up-close view of the nutritional breakdown. As the person who at certain points of my life has wanted to eat laundry detergent (dang you, pica), I was happy to see such a high number beside iron. I wrote more about runners and iron deficiency in this old post. 

Did you count six ingredients? I did! I love a simple and understandable ingredient list. The only bad thing I can think of is that if you don't like the stevia aftertaste, you will not appreciate this powder. 

But maybe you can get over that by studying all of the great things it offers. I was just thinking, if I don't get some methionine stat, I'm going to die. Not literally. But seriously, giant bonus points and three virtual high fives if you know without googling what methionine is. 

I'm not sure that it helped me build muscle (might need more than just a one-person anecdote to figure that out), but I do know that I loved having an easy meal at the end of a workout or for an on-the-go breakfast. It kept me full for longer than my fruit shakes do. I also liked that I could still use it while I'm trying to drop processed sugar from my diet (absolutely did not happen at tonight's Christmas party). And again, it was Made in Amuhrka! Freedom! Or Freebird!

And here's my own personal grass fed whey shake recipe. Simple and yum. Hope you love it!

Chocolate Banana Creme Shake

1 scoop of All Pro Science's banana creme protein powder
1 frozen banana
2 TB cashew butter
1 TB cocoa
1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup of kefir (also has less lactose than standard milk)

Blend and love!

If you want to try it, go to their site and use the coupon code YO40 for 40% off. And let me know if you try it and how you liked it. With the discount, this large container is about $50, but it is large and will last you a good while.


Other cool things from my week: a runner on the front of this month's Life Time magazine. Their monthly mag is surprisingly informative and awesome.

This weekend we got in a 15-mile trail run in the pouring rain. We felt like kids on a giant dirt/mud playground. 

And the best news of all? This week I'm celebrating 13 years of maritalness with this dude. And I'm fully supporting the keeping of the beard that he started for No Shave November. I kind of a lot love it. 

All Pro Science sent me that tub of yum to try out, but all the thoughts and opinions are my own. 

December 10, 2013

Know your own strength

My daughter's teacher asked her to send in a couple of photos from Christmases past. And what's almost as fun as taking cheesy holiday photos of the present? Looking at the cheese of the past. 

First place in the race for my favorite holiday photo of Christmases past: the twins' first December.

Even though that baby chub is fantastic, the following photo shoot meltdown is what really makes this my favorite. 

Second place: humiliating animals with costumes. Our dog Blossom was kind of grumpy about this Santa suit. But this mainly wins because I just loved seeing our old girl. She disappeared on the Kentucky farm a few years ago, and we never found her. Very sad days after that. 

Third place: reaction to the best present that I've ever received. 

The present was a giant painting that Amory commissioned as our version of a family portrait. The artist is Evan Poirier, illustrator/street artist/baller. It's still my favorite thing ever. 

Fourth place: family time! Hugs with granny. 

Gingerbread houses with Skeeter.

New Year's family reunion at Clifty Falls in Madison, IN. Anyone reading this ever been there or heard of this? Or points if you've ever stepped foot in Indiana. 

I love how looking back helps you appreciate the present. Sorry, twins, because even though you were adorable babies, I'm so glad that you're growing up. There is still part of me that doesn't understand how we made it through those first two years of twinhood without going totally insane. 

When I look at this slogan from Gold's, "Know your own strength," I feel grateful for the strength I had to keep it together with four kids ages six and under. Now that they're older, we're getting to the fun part.

What strength are you grateful for? And I wanted to backspace and say, "For what strength are you grateful?" So I will say that I'm grateful for the strength to overlook rules that aren't really that important. And the wisdom to (occasionally) know the difference.

Tell me about one of your December traditions. We always give pajamas as a present on Christmas Eve. They make for much less raggedy Christmas morning pictures.

Tell me a tradition you've seen that you want to copy. One of my friends makes a little to-do list of random acts of kindness, like taping quarters to a vending machine, for every day of December. So I want to make that one of our traditions.


And to bring happy holidays to one of you out there in bloglandia, the winner of the Candy Cane Joe Joes is #17 -- Mimi! 

Mimi, send me your address to yomommaruns(at), or you can message it to me via Facebook.