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How to Help: Boston Marathon Tragedy

I was planning to come and update you all on what’s been going on in my life lately, but in light of the horrific tragedy that took place in Boston this afternoon, it seems inappropriate to discuss anything else.

It’s not only devastating that so many innocent people were deeply affected during a day that would surely be the highlight of many of their lives otherwise, but it’s also tragic how the spirit of the day and the race was changed so drastically. Races are a time when runners come together, supported on the sidelines by runners and non-runners alike, and the amount of energy, comradery, and excitement that surrounds the race is unlike anything else. It’s so sad that someone intentionally robbed that uplifting spirit from those involved, and instilled fear in so many beyond those in Boston today.

Mr. Rogers

Here is a list of some concrete ways that we can all come together to help in the aftermath of this terrible tragedy:

    • Reach out with tips by calling 800-494-TIPS.
    • Donate blood in the future. The Red Cross has said the shelves are stocked to capacity at the moment, but to schedule a time to donate to make sure there is enough going forward.
    • Offer housing to those displaced from the tragedy if you are local to Boston.
    • The Salvation Army is offering food, beverages and crisis counseling to survivors and first responders. Find out how you can get involved here.

My heart goes out to everyone and their families who were affected today.

Here is a link to an article from the Washington Post that’s worth a read.

And another one from the New Yorker.

The Results Are In

Round 1 of the Beth’s Journey DietBet ended this past Sunday, and the results are in!

dietbet

The numbers are as follows:

    • 405 players
    • $25 buy in, so $10,125 total pot
    • 2,554 total pounds lost
    • 6.2 pounds per person on average
    • 199 players hit the 4% goal
    • $43.25 was paid to each of those who made the goal

I am so excited with these results! It’s insane to think that over 2,500 pounds were lost in just those 4 weeks. I think the money aspect keeps people a little more dedicated than they would be otherwise, and I absolutely LOVED how supportive the conversation in the game was. People would share their meals, photos, struggles and frustrations, and get tons of support from everyone else in the group. I also think it’s very telling that 6.2 pounds was the average loss per person – that is a HUGE number for 4 weeks! So even people who didn’t hit the 4% still made a lot of progress, which is really exciting. It added a new level of community to weight loss, and I loved organizing and participating in the game.

dietbet2

Today marks the start of Round 2 of the Beth’s Journey DietBet. Head over to http://www.dietbet.com/bethsjourney to sign up to participate if you’re interested! It runs through April 30 (4 weeks from today) and everyone who signs up will aim to lose 4% of their starting weight. Starting and ending are verified by DietBet staff, though you can weigh in unofficially as often as you’d like during those 4 weeks. The buy-in is $25, and so far there are 186 participants and the pot is at $4,650!

Hope to see you there!

Healthy Lunch Strategies

I am excited to report that yesterday’s presentation went REALLY well. It was supposed to be about 45 minutes but ended up being a little over an hour because everyone was really engaged, asking lots of questions, and contributing ideas. I ran it very much like a Weight Watchers meeting – asking lots of questions, moving around the room, and facilitating more than giving a presentation. I thought I’d share a little overview of what we discussed and see if you guys have any additional ideas to contribute.

Best Bet: Bringing Your Own

It’s only when you make and pack your own food that you truly know what goes into it. A lot of people struggle with having (or making) the time to pack lunch and meal plan, so we came up with a list of ideas to make that easier and streamline the process.

    • Make time to plan your meals on the weekend before you go grocery shopping, or whenever it works for you to fit in.
    • Cook big batches of food and separate into single serving containers right away so you can just grab and go.
    • If you’re making a casserole or soup, double the recipe. Cooking twice as much of the same thing does not take twice the time with prep.
    • Freeze extras that you can’t eat within time (or you might get bored of) so that you have a quick option down the road for a day when you don’t have something in mind.
    • Pack lunch the night before while you’re putting away or making dinner rather than trying to make time to do it during a hectic morning.
    • Bring a lot of food in on a Monday or early in the week if you have a fridge to use. This way you don’t have to bring things in every day and you have a few options to choose from.
    • Make simple foods that you can use in a lot of ways throughout the week. Some examples are a big batch of whole grains, plain grilled chicken, or a pot of beans. If I grill a pound of chicken, I can use it for salads, sandwiches, chicken salad, burritos, tacos, or quesadillas throughout the week so I’m not eating the same thing every day.

Restaurant Surprises

Any idea how many calories are in the tortilla at Chipotle (JUST the wrap)? 290! And 9 grams of fat. So you save almost 300 calories for opting for a burrito bowl over a burrito.

A standard chicken burrito with white rice, black beans, tomato salsa, corn salsa, cheese, sour cream, and lettuce rings in at 1055 calories and 40 grams of fat! If you just hold back on the cheese, sour cream, and tortilla, plus switch the rice from white to brown, you knock it down to 535 calories and 12 grams of fat – almost half! And that’s even having steak instead of chicken.

Another option right by my office is Chop’t, which is one of my favorite places to go. The honey wheat wrap there has even more calories than the one at Chipotle – 300 calories and 8 grams of fat, which is crazy because a lot of people assume that since it’s whole wheat it’s good for you. If you go with a Cobb Salad Wrap with Ranch Dressing there, you’re looking at 1110 calories and 65 grams of fat. If you opt for the Palm Beach Salad with Spa Sesame Dressing, which has avocado, shrimp, and hearts of palm, you’re only looking at 270 calories, 12.5 grams of fat, and a really delicious and healthy lunch.

One other thing that came up is that a lot of people tend to steer towards the vegetarian options on the menu, which can be really good options. But at Potbelly, the vegetarian sandwich is the second worst sandwich for you (after the PB&J) because it has three kinds of cheese plus mushrooms and sauce, so it also isn’t that filling. A lot of times restaurants will load up on cheese and other heavy additions to make up for the lack of meat in those options, so it’s just important to be careful.

Tips for Eating Out for Lunch

    • Look at the menu for the restaurant before you go and pick out what you want.
    • Choose a restaurant that you know has healthy options.
    • Have a few go-to options around you that you know are safe bets. Make sure there’s a variety so you have different ideas when you’re craving different things.
    • Stay hydrated throughout the day so you are eating because you’re hungry and not thirsty.
    • Don’t let yourself get ravenous, because then you’re more likely to overeat and make a worse choice.
    • Realize that not every time we eat out in a celebration. Sometimes it’s just a regular meal. Pick your indulgences wisely.
    • Bring healthy snacks from home to supplement what you buy out – think fruits and veggies!
    • Ask for heavy items on the side so you can control how much goes on them (think cheese, dressings, sour cream, etc)
    • Better yet, bring some condiments you like from home and keep them in your fridge at work if you have one.

The other big takeaway is that lunch is just one meal. I think sometimes we put a ton of pressure on ourselves and feel really disappointed if we overdo it on a meal or get carried away if we’re dining with others, and one meal is NOT going to break your day or your week. If you make a bad choice, just get back on track as soon as you can, and it’ll be alright.

What’s your biggest tip for making sure you bring lunch to work? If you’re not a lunch packer, what’s your biggest tip for making healthy choices while you’re out?

A Sisterly Visit

I always love it when people come to visit me in DC because not only do I get to spend quality time with my visitors, I also get to play tourist in my own city. This rang especially true this past weekend when my sister Wendy and her family came to visit me. They live in Philly now, which is most of the reason that I am there so frequently, but they actually lived in DC when I moved here in 2002 while Wendy went to law school. Crazy that they left almost 9 years ago, and I’m still here!

Remember this little guy?

harper and lincoln

The little man on the bottom is my nephew Harper, who is doing AWESOME if you’ve been following my blog for a while and know the backstory there.

We started the day on Saturday in fullout tourist mode, with a walk around the World War II Memorial, the Lincoln, and the Washington Monument.

washington monument

It was a little chilly in the morning since Harper is up and at ‘em early, but the entire weekend turned out to be perfect weather so we got really lucky!

After walking around the monuments, we headed to the Air and Space Museum since Harper is super into planes, but it was a little disappointing for him since everything was covered with plexiglass and he couldn’t actually touch much. Good luck explaining to a two year old why you can’t “open” all the barriers that were up! The one part he did really like was this exhibit that simulated what it was like to ride a plane way back when. You pushed a button and the ground vibrated and shook, which thank God is not the way planes fly anymore.

After the busy morning, it was family nap time for them, and I actually went out for a really great run since the weather was so awesome. Despite the fact that I should have run 8 or 10 miles, it was better to do 4.5 hilly ones than not go at all!

photo (1)

After showering and visiting the playground close to my apartment, we headed for dinner to Rasika where I literally had one of the best meals of my life. I wasn’t sure how Harper would do, and while it was touch and go for a minute there, we ended up being able to enjoy our meal immensely while he was distracted with not one, but two iPhones. Highlights of the meal included (besides everything we ate. literally.) Palak Chaat, which is deep fried baby spinach leaves with yogurt and date chutney and Sev Batata Puri.

rasika

That dish actually made the list of 40 dishes Washingtonians shouldn’t live without this year and it was AMAZING. I honestly can barely explain it, but it was similar to a cracker on the bottom with chopped potatoes, mango, a crispy garnish, and such a complex sauce on it that I could barely get over how good it was. I have been thinking about that meal nonstop ever since it ended!

After dinner, Wendy and I went out and got a drink with some of my girlfriends, which was fun.

Beth and Wendy

Sunday was a blur of a day since Harper didn’t realize he should sleep in, but we did manage to make it to the zoo in the morning.

KKs at the zoo

It was so funny that the animal Harper took to the most to was a random black crow in a cage off to the side, rather than the lions, zebras, pandas, and other picturesque animals. The crow was cawing (is that a word?) really loud, and each time he did Harper would caw back and just laugh and laugh and laugh. It was so adorable to watch and it made me want them to stay even more! But Harper’s nap time is around noon, so they got on the road back to Philly around then so he could sleep in the car. Weekends always go by waaaaay too fast!

Do you have any siblings? How often do you get to see them?

I have two older sisters and we all live within a 4 hour drive of each other, so I do get to see them quite a bit, but not enough.

Double Digits

This past Saturday, I ran 10 miles for the first time in a LONG time. It was my friend Matt’s 30th birthday and he was starting the day with a 10 mile run, so I decided to join him in the spirit of actually sticking with my training plan. Somehow, my sixth half marathon is coming up just three weeks from Saturday, so there’s no more time for excuses! Not that I really had a choice with my minor surgery which sidelined me for two weeks, or getting knocked down by strep for five days, but I haven’t been very consistent this go-round with training.

The day started with a 7:30am wakeup call, and I immediately made coffee and got dressed. I almost always have an english muffin with nut butter of some sort for pre-run fuel, but I haven’t been keeping nut butter in the house lately because I can’t trust myself around it. So, I tried something new-to-me before a run:

photo 1

An english muffin with smashed avocado and sea salt. This has been one of my favorite things to eat recently, and it definitely did the trick as a pre-run mini meal.

I drove to Matt’s house and we headed to the trail, and before I knew what I had signed up for, we were off. We ran on an area of the Mount Vernon Trail that I haven’t run on in years, and it was hillier than I was used to. There was a water fountain at the 2.5 mile mark, then the 5.0 mile mark where we turned around for the out-and-back loop, so it worked out well for us to not have to carry water.

The first couple miles went by quick, but I felt like it took a LONG time to get to the turnaround point. Matt has been running way more than me lately, so 10 miles to him was no big deal, but for me it was definitely a stretch. Around the turnaround point, I took a new-to-me Clif Shot that I acquired at my last half marathon.

photo 2

Which was fine. Vanilla Bean GU is still my fav, but the price was right on this one so I went with it.

Once we got to the 7ish mile mark, I was really ready to be done. I had to slow down a bit and mentally talk myself away from wanting to stop running. I kept playing mind games with myself and taking it one mile at a time, and soon we were at 8 miles and then 9. When we had less than a mile to go, Matt took off a little ahead of me which was good because I was able to finish the run at my own pace. And then, at long last, I hit the 10.0 mile mark and stopped immediately.

photo 4

My body will never cease to amaze me whenever I run a double digit run. It is always a challenge in more ways than one, and I ALWAYS feel like a million bucks when it’s over.

photo 3

The one thing I forgot about was chafing! It honestly didn’t occur to me that I often chafe on my collar bones when I run in anything other than a tank top, and once I stopped I realized my neck was super irritated.

photo 5

Ouch. It’s already gone down considerably since then, but I can guarantee you I will not forgot body glide on this weekend’s long run!

Even though the run was really hard for me, it definitely helped me feel more confident about the upcoming half marathon. I am going to attempt 10 miles again this coming weekend, and I’m hoping it’ll be a bit easier for me this time around. I know that the challenge was more mental than anything because I wasn’t sore at all after the run or the next day, so I really just need to work on the mental part of things over the next few weeks.

Do you struggle mentally with runs? Any tips for overcoming it?

My Week Turned Around

So this week started out pretty crappy for me. On Monday, I went to the dentist for the first time in far too long and had to get some work done. I ended up shedding almost $500 out of pocket which I wasn’t expecting, plus I just hate the dentist in general. Once the day came and went I got home, and realized my car was not where I left it. I started panicking that it had been stolen because I grabbed an umbrella out of it that morning and thought maybe I’d left it unlocked. After a few phone calls I realized what had actually happened was that I had an outstanding parking ticket as well as an outstanding photo enforcement ticket, and they had booted and towed my car that day. $400 later, and over an hour of time getting to where they’d relocated my car later, I got my car back. An expensive day, to say the least.

Thankfully, things have been looking up ever since. Here are the top five things that turned my week around:

1.) Tuesday morning’s weight watcher meeting

I’ve been leading Weight Watchers meetings for just over a year, and I cannot tell you how much I love it. I feel like I’m 100% at my prime when I’m leading meetings and it feels so good to be doing something that draws on my passions. I always leave the meeting feeling inspired, recommitted, and so happy.

2.) Dinner at Zaytinya

So remember how I said I was going to Zaytinya on last week’s menu plan? Weeeell I made the reservation for Wednesday instead of Thursday, so all my friends were thrilled when they found out I made us miss it. Luckily, the restaurant extended restaurant week into this week too, so I was able to get a new reservation for Wednesday night. Since there were four of us who went, we literally got to order the entire menu because there were 4 options for each course on the RW menu. It.was.amazing. The highlights for me were fried brussels sprouts with garlic yogurt, the falafel with tahini sauce, and seared scallops with yogurt dill sauce. Just thinking about that meal makes me hungry.

3.) Unofficial 5k PR

If you are on my facebook page, you might have already seen this, but I was SO excited when I took a lunchtime run yesterday, and looked down to see this:

5kPR

3.12 miles in 26:17, or an 8:26 pace. I don’t normally run that fast but since it was a shorter run, I decided to push it and was so happy! The fastest official 5k I’ve run is 26:49, so over 30 seconds faster. Woohoo!

4.) Overall exercise this week

I have been struggling with getting into a groove with exercise lately because of my minor surgery and then getting knocked down with strep. This week was the first consistent week I’ve had in a while, and here’s what it looked like:

    • Sunday: 4 mile run
    • Monday: 3 mile run + 1 hour pilates class
    • Tuesday: rest
    • Wednesday: 4.5 miles of intervals
    • Thursday: 5k run
    • Friday: Rest
    • Saturday: 10 miles on the docket…. eek!

I’m really happy with this week’s exercise, though I do wish I got in some strength training. Next time!

5.) Mumford & Sons Concert

Last night, I went to the best concert of my life, hands down. It was Mumford & Sons, one of my favorite bands ever. The tickets for the show sold out in about two seconds, but I lucked out and got really awesome seats in the second row of the arena and it was unreal. I went with my friend Stacy that I am traveling to Peru with, and we had the BEST time.

photo 3 (1)

The acoustics were amazing and the visuals were pretty awesome too.

photo 5

They also did an acapella encore on a different stage that happened to be RIGHT in front of our seats. Just incredible. Made getting home at 2am on a weeknight worth it for sure.

What’s a highlight from your week?

Valentine’s Day in a Different Way

Happy Valentine’s Day! I’ll tell ya – I traditionally hate this “holiday”, regardless of whether I am in a relationship or single because it’s always overhyped and undelivered.

valentines_day

So this year, I’ve decided to think about it in a different way.

It’s so easy to focus on all the things we hate about ourselves. For years, that is ALL I thought about and my life was filled with negative self talk. I’d pick myself apart from the moment I woke up until the moment I went to bed, always vowing to change the next day. And you know what? Shockingly (not) that negative energy did not help me change a thing.

So today, I want to focus on what I love about myself, and I want you to, too.

If I had to pick the thing I love most about myself, I think it would be my determination. I know that I can do anything I set my mind to, and I’ve proven it time and time again over the last several years. I’ve changed myself from an obese and fragile young woman, to a fit, healthy, and confident person. I’ve gone from not being able to run except if being chased to having almost 30 races under my belt, including five half marathons. I’ve gone from recruiter, to associate, to director in my professional life in under 6 years. I’ve gone from prudent Weight Watchers member to enthusiast leader. I’ve gone from annoying little sister, to friend, confidant and awesome aunt. And, I’m really proud of myself for all that.

Tell me – what’s one thing you love about you?

A Great Run

I hope I don’t give off the impression that I in any way live my life as the perfect healthy living candidate. I still struggle. A lot. And have bad days, and bad weeks, or in this case, bad weekends. This past weekend was SO MUCH FUN, but I didn’t do even one thing that was remotely good for my health.

In case you didn’t read between the lines there, let me translate for you. I overdid it with booze and food this weekend, big time. Late nights out led to eating pizza (twice), popcorn, and chinese food, and it also translated into lazy mornings that didn’t involve any sort of physical activity besides laying on the couch.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I had a BLAST hanging out with my girlfriends.

Girlfriends

And I also found the PERFECT recipe for homemade Bloody Mary mix. (It’s this one, plus 2 teaspoons of fresh horseradish per recipe).

Blood Mary

Fancy garnishes encouraged.

BUT, when I woke up yesterday morning, I felt like crap. Bloated, exhausted, headache-y, and just not the way you hope to feel on a Monday morning to start off the week. I had to go to a conference for the first part of day for work, and woke up too late to get a workout in beforehand, and then came home after the conference and plugged away at work for several hours.

I was almost ready to melt into the couch for the evening when I realized I had no excuse to not go for a run before giving in. After overdoing it for so many days in a row, I had a feeling my body might not respond the best, but I knew I had to at least give it a try if I had any hopes of snapping out of it.

It was one of those runs where I set out not sure of how far I’d go, or even where I’d go, I just went. I ended up running from my place in Dupont Circle into Georgetown, and at the point where I would normally turn around to do a 3 mile run, I decided to just keep going and added another mile in for a total of 4 miles.

My runs for the last several weeks have been “fine” at best, and that’s honestly a stretch. I’ve felt out of breath before I started, had to fight for every step of them, and just had to play mind games with myself the entire time. I am SURE that has everything to do with being inconsistent with working out for the last couple weeks, which is why last night was so surprising.

I felt energized, powerful, and confident with every step of the run. I had a pep in my step and felt like a million bucks the whole time as I passed people left and right on the sidewalk (granted, they were WALKING home from work, but still). I probably could have kept going, but I didn’t want to push it. It was one of those runs where I needed it to be good, even if I didn’t expect it to be. Does that make sense?

Anyway, I got home, stretched, and basically bounced up the stairs to my apartment because I was feeling so great.

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Not even faking that smile!

And only then did I let myself melt into the couch for the night. And don’t worry, I even showered first.

2012 in Review

Can you believe 2012 is over!? I feel like I say this every time a new year comes, but man is it insane how fast time flies. I feel like once you’re an adult and you work full time and don’t have summer break anymore, every week is so similar that one just fades into the next and before you know it, more time has flown by than you know.

I saw this funny image on Facebook today, which I loved:

2012

Anyway, I wanted to take a look back at the goals I set for myself in 2012 and see how I did with them. Here goes:

1.) PR in my third half marathon March 17th.

2012 was a big year for racing for me. I ended up running 11 races in total, including 3 half marathons, and PRing in not one but two of them! My fastest time was the Philadelphia Half Marathon on November 18, 2012, with a time of 2:05:08. That’s over 5 minutes faster than my 2011 PR!

Half-Marathon-PR

2.) Get back to my goal weight and maintain it throughout the year.

This one, as you may have guessed, did not happen. I struggled a lot with my weight throughout the year and really had a hard time getting back towards my goal weight. I recently met with my doctor to discuss my weight and will be doing a thorough update on this soon, but I think my body might be at my happy weight where it is now.

3.) Keep strength training a part of my exercise routine.

I was pretty good about strength training a lot during the year. Things kind of went downhill with it when I got injured while training for my last half marathon, and it has kind of taken a back burner since then. This will definitely be something I want to focus on for 2013.

4.) Get completely out of debt.

I am SO excited to report that this goal was completely accomplished! You can read the post here – and just rereading it now makes me feel so liberated. It was a lot of hard work and discipline, but man does it feel good to not have it hanging over my head anymore!

5.) Save Money.

I didn’t quite get to 6 months of living expenses saved, but I have over 4 months saved and made a lot of great progress in this area. I am really proud of myself for sticking with this one.

6.) Plan a vacation abroad.

I am in the stages of planning a trip for May with a good friend to travel to Turkey and Greece for a few weeks. I will keep you posted as the planning progresses and am REALLY hoping I can make this happen!

7.) Read more and watch less TV.

I think I did a pretty good job with this one. I lived without cable for over a year (and actually just got it again a few weeks ago) and have been consistently reading books all year. I’m currently working on Room and want to keep this trend going.

8.) Go to bed earlier.

This one is hit or miss and not something I’ve been consistent enough about. This goal is definitely one I’ll keep going with for 2013.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how the year went. I made a huge career move, became more independent, learned to live on my own, and have worked hard to balance social life with being healthy. I was originally planning on doing a post for my 2013 goals coupled with this one, but I still need to think it through a little bit and will be back with those goals soon.

Happy New Year! Here’s to an incredible 2013!

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