Fall days + Butternut squash sweet potato soup

So this past week has been awful…well, really just on the healthy eating/working out front.  Work is good, friends are good, life is good.  I just somehow can’t seem to pull myself together and get back on track in regards to all things fitness.  It sucks.  It’s hard for me.  It drives me crazy that I can’t focus on being fit right now and I HATE the number I see on the scale and the fact that my muscles aren’t where I want them to be.  But right now, I swear all my brain power goes to learning new things at my job and loving my husband.  Oh and I’m sick.  So there.  Poor me.

But since there’s no use crying over spilled milkshake I decided to embrace this rainy fall day and make some soup.  And not workout.  And lay around on the couch.  It’s been nice.

Butternut Squash + Sweet Potato soup

  • 6 cups butternut squash cubed (I used TJs)
  • 3 cups cubed sweet potato
  • 1 granny smith apple peeled and chopped
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a crock pot on low for 6 hours and then transfer to a food processor to blend.  You could also use an immersion blender (I don’t have one but today made me realize it’s a great item for my Christmas list…hint hint to any of my family members that might be reading this).  I also added in a little more coconut milk as I was blending because I had to make this in batches so the liquid was a bit off.

The soup was super easy to make, my house smelled like Thanksgiving and it hit the spot for dinner on this rainy day.  I packed the rest up for lunches this week and I’m thinking about cooking up some bacon to sprinkle on top for some extra protein.
Because I fully intent to pull it together this week.  Good workouts, good eats and no sugar.

Hope it happens.


Technology problems & Strawberry salads

It has taken me all night to download photos off my camera.  I’m annoyed, frustrated and exhausted.  I now have lion on my mac instead of whatever was there before and somehow the Cannon software I’ve always used to import my photos isn’t compatible.  And no matter how much google research I do, I can’t find the link to the software update that Cannon apparently has released.  So I finally figured out how to upload my photos via iphoto but if I want to edit them in Photoshop it’s not easy.  Or I can’t figure it out.  I know a lot of people like iphoto, I do not.  I just want to download my photos onto my pictures folder and open them up in photoshop.  Just like I used to. And I work in a world where this should be easy for me to figure out and that drives me even more crazy.

Anyone else have this issue?  Do you use a Mac with Lion and a Cannon Rebel T3i?  Can you help me?

And because it’s taken me 1 million years to download and edit my photos you will get 3 smaller than normal, nearly identical but slightly different views of the same salad.

Help me.

Take a good look at that salad because it’s probably the last time you’re going to see it.  At least until next summer.  Fall is right around the corner and pretty soon we’ll be trading in dinners on the grill for dinners in the crockpot.

Also, side note, I overheard someone saying that pumpkin spice latte’s are back at Starbucks on Friday.  I can neither confirm or deny this rumor, all I can say is that it feels too soon.  Welcoming Fall before celebrating Labor Day just feels wrong.

Another random story – somehow I got a blackberry seed stuck in my gumline a few days ago and not sure if it’s because I kept picking at it or what but I’m pretty sure I have a gum infection.  My mouth hurts.  I don’t want to have to go to the dentist because I’m not sure what else he could do for me besides give me antibiotics and I’m not a big fan of those so I’ve spent the evening rinsing my mouth with salt water and baking soda.  Hopefully I wake up feeling better tomorrow of I’m going to have to go in.

What else do I have to say to round out this random post…? My workout was all about the cardio today.  I took a 30 minute spin class and then went on a 2 mile walk with a couple of friends.  I also got another 20-30 minute walk in after work with Chance.  Grabbing that vitamin D while I can :)  Tomorrow is pilates and maybe an attempt at running.  I think I may have overdone it this weekend with the 3 Jillian’s in a row.  My knees and IT band have been screaming at me lately.  No good.  Lesson learned.

If you’re still reading, thank you!  I’m all over the board today.  Cross your fingers I’ll be a little more focused (and able to download photos and chew on the right side of my mouth) tomorrow.

The anti Hood to Coast weekend

So this weekend I was supposed to run Hood To Coast but if you recall from here, I decided to listen to my body, particularly my knees, and sit this year out.  And guess what?  It sucked.   No matter how much I tried to tell myself that it was for the best, that I got to have a nice relaxing weekend at home, that I didn’t have to share stinky port-o-potties with thousands of strangers, that I got to sleep in my own bed instead of the hard ground in Mist, it didn’t matter.  I didn’t feel better for staying home. I felt sad. Every time I opened up Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, there it was.  My husband and my friends…out there running 197 miles from Mt. Hood to downtown Portland to St. Helen’s, to Mist, to Astoria, to Seaside.

That girl on the left, that was my spot.  And when they all stopped over at the house Friday night after their first leg to shower I pretended I was ok.  Told everyone I was loving having a nice night in.  That I wasn’t envious of their next leg because your second leg was always the worst.  Lies.  I so desperately wanted to be out there because no matter how much that middle of the night run sucked, the 3rd leg made up for it.  That last leg that you run on autopilot and fumes because you know when you’re done with it, it’s over.  You did it.  And that incredible sense of accomplishment and teamwork at the end, at the beach, more than make up for whatever pain/stress/lack of sleep/stomach ailments and blisters that preceded it.

I missed Hood to Coast.

But instead, this is what I did:

Made jam.

Came up with a new smoothie recipe.

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Blackberry Banana Smoothie

  • 1/4 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen blackberries
  • 2 tablespoons white chocolate peanut butter
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 & 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Tried a new breakfast.

Spicy eggs & veggies

  • 2 eggs + 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup chopped red, orange & yellow peppers

Microwave for 3 minutes.  Top with Frank’s Hot Sauce

Read books.

Watched my favorite movie.

And worked out.

  • Saturday: levels 3, 2, & 1 of Jillian’s Ripped in 30
  • Sunday: 45 minute slow jog on the treadmill

All in all, certainly not a bad weekend.  And if it was on any other weekend I would have been stoked.  Almost 2 full days all to myself.  To do absolutely nothing.  But the fact that it had to happen on a weekend where I really wanted to be doing something else somewhere else was tough.

Chris and I talked about it when he got home and he suggested I try running it one more time next year.  That I take leg 4 (which is the only leg I think I could do because it has the longest run 1st), that I listen to my body and that I fully decide at the end of next year if I really am done for good. But it’s not even that I need to try one more time to see if I can do it. I know I could do it.  It’s me, having to decide if one year from now it will really be worth it to have to start all over. Again.  To have to go back to physical therapy, to quit running for months, be in pain when I walk up and down stairs. To spend every “cardio” day on the bike.  Instead of where I am this year.  Where I will actually be able to enjoy a couple runs in the fall.  To only have to go to acupuncture once a month instead of once a week.  To be able to do lunges.

Who am I kidding.  Watching the leaves change color while you run is overrated.  The bike’s not that bad.  And side leg series in pilates tones your butt just as good as any lunge could.  Now that I know what it’s like not running Hood To Coast, you can be sure that if we get a team for 2013 I’ll be on it :)

Horrible Shoes

If my feet could talk they would be screaming obscenities at me for what I just put them through.  A 30 minute round-trip walk of pain.  I was walking back from a meeting and just about the time I took this picture I was seriously considering taking them off and walking the rest of the way back to my office barefoot.  But it’s hot out and the pavement would have burned my feet (not to mention my co-workers would wonder what I was up to) and I figured blisters would be better than burns?  I might be regretting that decision tomorrow. Who knows.

I’ve had these shoes for at least 5 years and have never experienced anything like this before with them.  In fact, they’re some of my go-tos for comfort so I’m not quite sure what happened.  I guess they will now be relegated to the back of my closet, only to come out to play on days when I’ll be sitting at my desk for long periods of time.  Sad.

They did manage to get me through my walk to the gym where I changed into sneakers and did a pilates reformer class (my abs were on FIRE!) and 25 minutes of intervals on the elliptical.  Note, we had a mini photo shoot session in class today to accompany an awesome guest post I have coming your way all about pilates.  Hopefully I’m building up some good anticipation.  Seriously.  Get excited.

They also got me through a walk to the coffee cart where I got this:

Grande iced Americano with a splash of rice milk

and this:

I love coconut

Luckily the day is almost over and I will definitely not be wearing them when I walk Chance dog tonight or when we’re eating leftover BBQ Chicken Quinoa salad for dinner.   Cardio tomorrow is going to be rough and band-aids for my blisters are definitely in my future.  Stupid shoes.

Do you guys have shoes that look cute but kill your feet?  Any good flat brands you’d recommend? Clearly I’m in the market.


When your body tells you no

I was hoping I’d never have to write this.  That I’d never have to finally admit that my knees are broken.  I wish I could be saying here that after months of physical therapy, MRI’s, orthopedic surgeons, acupuncture, Chinese herbs, foam rolling, ASTYM, endless ice packs, iontophoresis, and hours of strength training I was cured.  And that come the end of August, I would be telling you stories about the time I ran Hood to Coast for the 5th time.  But that’s not going to happen and it sucks.

I think I’ve mentioned my knees enough on here for you to know that I don’t have good ones…I have an extremely tight IT band in my left leg and arthritis in my right knee.  That I love running but my knees don’t.  That I’ve run Hood to Coast 4 times and I’ve been doing everything I could to get one more year in.  That I planned to end my HTC reign after 5 years.  But yesterday I had to call it.  HTC is August 24th and I still can’t run more than 4 miles without serious pain.   And even though I think I could make it through the pain during my runs, my IT band gets so tight afterwards that I can barely walk.  I ran 2.5 miles yesterday morning and for the rest of the day (and even this morning) I was dreading every time I had to get up from my desk and walk to the break room because it hurt so bad.

And so I officially told Chris I was out.  And I guess I didn’t realize how much it affected me until I started writing this and tears welled up in my eyes.  It’s like I didn’t actually have to face it until I wrote it down.  And maybe you don’t get why I’m getting so upset about a race but it’s almost like the race signifies something more.  I have never been an athlete.  Growing up I was the girl who was picked last for a team, who’s mom wrote her notes to get out of PE, who never broke a sweat unless I was blow drying my hair.  But all of that changed when I started running the summer before my Jr. year of college.  I realized that while I was never a fast runner, running gave me a sport; it was my connection into the world of athletes.  It made me an athlete.

Even though I ran I still didn’t consider myself a “good” runner.  And Hood to Coast was for runners.  People had asked me to run on teams before but I turned them down until my step-mom asked me to join her on her team in 2008.  So I trained.  And on the day before the race started she dropped out due to injury and I ran my 1st Hood to Coast with a team full of strangers.  Not ideal.  While I was so proud of myself for completing the race I didn’t have a great experience on the team side.  In order to have a great HTC experience you need a good team.  That’s what makes it.  Luckily I met up with Chris’ team after the race and l was able to see what it might have been like to run on a team with friends.  And so I decided to run it again in 2009 with his team.  And I loved it.  And I was hooked.

And so I ran again in 2010 and 2011.  And even though I cried through some of my legs last year from my knee pain I still signed up again this year.  HTC is like some crazy drug that makes you an addict.  And I still can’t tell you if it’s the team bonding, the 3 am runs in the dark, something I do with my husband, or the fact that when you cross that finish line you feel like the best athlete in the world. For me, crossing that line was my superbowl, my 1st place.  And for the little girl inside of me who was laughed at in PE, it was my one shining moment. And it’s hard to realize I won’t get that feeling this year.

I feel like I’m letting people down – my team, my husband, myself.   That maybe if I focused a little more on my stretching exercises or if I went through another round of physical therapy I could do it.  But I finally decided I had to listen to my body.  I’m 30 years old.  I have years and years of fitness ahead of me and I cannot put myself through another one of these races.    That I can run 3 miles right now is kind of a miracle.  After HTC last year I thought I was done with running forever but 9 months later, here I am, squeaking out a couple runs.  What’s going to happen if I run HTC again this year?  Is it going to be another 9 months of pain, another round of crazy doctor’s bills, another summer of disappointment as I try to push myself to do it again?  Or is it going to be worse?  Am I going to permanently damage my knees?  Am I going to come out of the race with more arthritis?  Would I actually have to start getting the steroid shots into my knee that my doctor keeps pushing?

My body is telling me to take a break.  Maybe it’s just a year off.  Maybe it’s forever.  Only time is going to tell.  Unfortunately no matter how much I wanted this, how much I reached for it, how much I put my mind to it, I have to accept that it’s not going to happen.  That for now, my Hood to Coast running shoes is getting sidelined.

So now the only thing left to do is find a new goal right?


Oh Home Depot I am not a fan (but I am a fan of my tasty green smoothie)

We had Home Depot install 3 new windows in our house about 3 years ago.  We’d checked around, read reviews and felt pretty good about the whole process.  Home Depot has always been our go-to spot so we had no reservations about them also doing our windows.  On the day of the installation, 2 (Russian ?) dudes who spoke very little english came out and installed them.  I was the one who had to work from home that day and trusted that they did everything correctly.  And while our new windows looked good, our window sills looked like crap.  Totally had cracks and jagged cuts from where they had to take the old ones out.  Great.  So I call up HD, work from home on another day where they come out and nail some wood strips over the cracks.  Gee thanks.  Pretty sure I could have done that myself.

Fast forward to a year or so later and I start to notice mold in one of our bedroom windows.  Not cool.  Call Home Depot, stay home from work, they send another guy out (maybe it was the same one?) who tells me there is nothing wrong with my window and that I’m getting mold because  1, my dog(!) is getting up on the chair and breathing on them (um, my dog has never gotten up on a chair in his life) and 2, my bathroom fan (which is in a totally different room) is not working well enough and causing condensation from my shower to affect my bedroom.  He told me to get some mildew remover and I’d be fine.  Cool.  Strike 2.

A couple of months go by and we notice a puddle of water on the windowsill of the family room window.  Call Home Depot, work from home again.  Meet another (Russian ?) guy who tells me something is wrong with a seal and they need to fix it.  And oh by the way, the bedroom window also has a leak (guess my dog isn’t breathing that hard after all).  Work from home for another day while more guys come out to cut some stuff out, add more caulk and promise me things are fixed.

Oh but wait.  A couple of weeks ago Chris finds a huge puddle of water on the family room window.  Great.  This time he takes time off work, Home Depot sends out a dude who tells him they need to completely remove two of our windows, put on some flashing and then re-install them.  Could this get any better?  Oh it could, they can’t actually come out to fix it for a least two weeks.  Thanks.  I’ll just keep a towel on our window sill to soak up the rain.

And that takes us to today.  The 5th time one of us has had to stay at home and deal with this.  Chris was out of town so it was my turn.  And of course, 2 more (Russian ?) guys come and one does not understand english at all and I basically have to yell at him a million times to please not open my fence because my dog is in there.  But of course, traipse through my house with your muddy clothes instead.  I explain the situation, that they’re suppose to completely reinstall the windows.  And he says.  No, they don’t need that.  There are just some cracks and they need new caulk. But no matter how much I argue with him he tells me this will fix the problem.  Sounds like something I’ve heard before.

So I’ve sat here all morning while strange dudes rip, cut and glue things for what feels like the millionth time.  And the best part?  From all the water damage, my once beautiful windowsills are super jacked.  Cracked paint, warped wood… I’ve left a message with Home Depot Home Services to see if I can get any compensation to help repair them but haven’t heard back yet.

The one benefit of working from home is that I can still be in my pajamas even though it’s noon.  I got up early and did a couple Jillian Michael’s DVDs (level 3 of 30 Day Shred and level 1 of Killer Buns & Thighs) and I might need to do something else later to work off some steam.  I wish I had a punching bag right now.

Chance is also annoyed by all of this.

On the plus side, my green smoothie today was so tasty! In fact, I think it’s been my favorite of the week.  I essentially took yesterday’s mix and got rid of the carrots and sweet potatoes.

Banana Almond Smoothie
Serves 1. Mix everything.  Enjoy.

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup non fat plain greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons rice protein powder
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 tablespoon flax seed
  • 1 & 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

My Knees

What’s wrong with my knees you ask? “What’s not,” feels like the better question to ask.  My knees were fine until HTC 3 years ago.  Mid-way through my last run something in my right knee started killing me.  I knew if I stopped running I’d never start again so I finished my leg and burst into tears at the finish line.  Fast forward through that year and visits to trainers, doctors, sports medicine specialists, orthopedic surgeons and physical therapy.  Poorly aligned hips and tight hamstrings was the overall diagnosis and with some physical therapy I was able to run Hood to Coast again.  Miraculously with no injuries.  Awesome.

But wait, on a run a few months after something popped in my knee.  More trainers, physical therapy, custom orthotics, pilates and a lot of bike riding and I was able to run Hood to Coast for the 4th time. Mid way through my 1st leg last year I knew I was going to be in trouble.  But I kept going.  Leg #2 was up a hilly gravel road.  Bad, bad, bad for my knees.  Absolutely beautiful run in a lot of pain.  Ended that run in tears.  The pic below is in the van after that run. I made it through my 3rd leg and finished what may turn out to be my last HTC.  I was stupid to have run it last year but to me, huge accomplishment to do the whole thing without stopping or walking.

Since August I’ve spent a lot of time and money in Doctor’s offices.  The overall issue is still my weak hips and overall leg aligment.  If you look at them, my knees are totally rotated in and it’s no wonder I’m in so much pain when I run.  I need to make my hips stronger so that they’ll support the rest of my leg muscles pulling everything out.  Much easier said than done. Oh and an MRI revealed arthritis in my right knee.  Nothing I can do about that but get some joint fluid injections.  I’m passing on that for now.   Then a chiropractor informed me my left tibia was out of alignment along with my left ankle (thanks to a sprain in Mexico 3 years ago) and I have tons of scar tissue built up where the tibia meets some other bone/muscle…  Oh and my right knee was also out of alignment somehow (I honestly can’t remember at this point).  The chiro put everything back into place which definitely helped but I really need to continuously do my physical therapy homework.  I have tons of it.  So many sheets of paper to get through.  It’s overwhelming and I tend to skip it because it takes to long.  No good.

So for now, I don’t run even though it kills me.  I do Pilates because I have amazing teachers who know all about my knees issues and are working with me in every class (tons of my PT is based in pilates so a lot of my daily workouts incorporate hip exercises to help fix me).  I ride the spin bike (even though it is so boring) and do the rowing machine (even though it kills my butt after about 20 min).  And lately I’ve been able to do sculpt classes as long as I don’t push it too hard.  Jumps are questionable.  I just need to make sure I keep my knees alinged and over my toes (jumping jacks = good, burpees = sometimes). Squats are usually ok for me as long as I don’t go past 90. Lunges kill me so I need to modify those. I can also tell when I’ve been doing too much.  And on those days I do some pilates, ride a bike and take it easy until one day I hope I can get back outside, pounding the pavement.

And there you go.  The whole knee story. Drama, that’s for sure.  To anyone else out there with knee issues, I feel your pain.  It sucks but I’ve learned you can still stay in shape even when your body doesn’t cooperate.  It just takes a little more work.