Take Five

Well the arctic blast has officially hit Chicago and I am slowly coming out of denial that winter is on the way.  While it isn’t super chilly yet, that first blast of cold always feels frigid.  Last night as we went for a walk in a cool 39°F I remarked that soon we would consider this a heat wave.  Ugh, I am not quite ready for that!



Winter always leaves me feeling a bit lethargic.  I am a bit more reluctant to leave my warm bed in the morning and I usually feel ready for a nap in the afternoon.  As the cold closes in we are all less likely to head outside for walks and other activities.  Living in the Midwest during the winter can be difficult because once that snow starts to pile up, it becomes a bit of a pain in the you know what to do outdoor activities.

There of course is always the gym, but sometimes the thought of taking the time to head out there seems like a big ordeal.  Factoring in time to and from the gym makes schedules a bit more tricky.  Let’s face it, all of these reasons become perfect excuses to fall out of your running or workout routine.  It becomes pretty easy to end up in winter hibernation.

As I was working with athletes training for the Chicago Marathon I heard a lot of people tell me that the group runs were what really helped people stay accountable.  For many, they felt that without those group runs it would have been easy to fall off track with their training.  We spent a lot of runs discussing how many of these first time runners were struggling with staying on task.  Finding time after work can be tricky and for many it was easy to make excuses later in the day and just head home where there were other priorities that also needed to be taken care of.


One athlete remarked that it is usually just getting started that is the hardest part.  Getting the gumption to throw on the running clothes and actually head out the door is usually the most difficult part of just about any run.  And that cold winter environment can leave you less than thrilled to get started.  Personally for me that is my biggest hurdle, stepping into that chilly air.

It is important during these times to remember how great you feel during and after your runs or workouts.  This athlete remarked that once she got started every run was totally worth it and not that big of a deal.  This was the case even on the days when she was utterly exhausted and could barely put her shoes on, let alone get started.  She said that about five minutes into each run she completely forgot how exhausted she was and started to feel great.  In fact, some of those runs she dreaded the most ended up being the most enjoyable and even some of her most successful ones.

This is a great lesson to learn this time of year.  I like to go by the Five Minute Rule.  Tell yourself to just get out the door and get started.  If in five minutes your body isn’t responding or you are still not feeling it, you can turn around and go home. However, 99.9% of the time you will forget to even look at your watch.  Once you get going and your body and mind warms up, you won’t want to stop.  And if you truly do want to go home, then that run wasn’t meant to be.


Some quick tips to make those cold weather runs happen:

Plan ahead and mark your run on your schedule.  If it is a morning run, lay your clothes out the night before.  If you are doing an evening run, pencil it in to your schedule just like you would a meeting.

Set out your clothes the night before or pack them in your gym or work bag.  Being prepared leaves you no excuses.

Get some fun and warm winter running gear.  Feeling good in what you wear and knowing you will be warm once you get going will make everything much easier.

Have a nice warm treat waiting for you when you are done.  For me, I really look forward to a warm cup of chocolate almond milk after a chilly run.  Yum!

What are your cold weather running motivators?

Have a great weekend!

Let’s Get Cooking- Pretzel and Mustard Chicken


Yesterday was cold.  And by cold I mean frigid.  The past 10 years I was living out on the East Coast but I grew up in the Midwest and I certainly don’t remember days where the wind chill read -38.  I stayed in most of the day and did some work, did a few workouts, and ate some delicious food.  I was missing my daily run, but when I decided to take a walk to the mail box and to grab a few things at a nearby store, I realized running would have been a bad idea!

All of this to drop off some mail.  Remind you of someone?

All of this to drop off some mail. Remind you of someone?

I can't move my arms down!

I can’t move my arms down!

After doing a nice yoga workout, I decided to prepare a meal that my husband has been asking me to make.  Last winter I would often get home from work before him and loved preparing a nice dinner for us to share.  One evening I was tired of making the same old baked chicken night after night and decided to make something new with whatever we had in the kitchen (we watch a lot of Chopped here).  I made something I called pretzel chicken with a mustard blue cheese sauce.  The dinner was a hit, mostly because the mustard sauce was delicious.  This meal is super easy and requires very few ingredients.



Boneless skinless chicken breasts


Any and all varieties of mustard you have around (just don’t use the yellow stuff!)

Blue cheese (goat or feta would work well too)

Eggs (I used Egg Beaters because they are just easy)

Vinegar (I use either apple cider or balsamic)

1 minced garlic clove


Preheat oven on to 350°.

Mash up the pretzels. I finally have a mortar and pestle thanks to my friend Anna and her husband (sweet wedding present) and this made the job so much easier.


Thanks Anna!

Dredge the chicken in the eggs and then in the mashed pretzels.  If you have a mortar you can leave the pretzels in there and dredge the chicken right in it.  You can add anything to the pretzels.  Next time I might add some rosemary and garlic salt.

Place chicken in a baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Bake for 30-50 minutes depending on the size of your chicken breasts.

While this is baking, put a small pot on the stove over low heat.  Inside the pot add 1/2 cup total of your favorite mustards.  I used some horseradish, spicy brown mustard and Dijon.  Add about 1/8 cup of cheese, minced garlic, and 2 tsps. of vinegar.  Stir until the cheese melts into the sauce.


Once the chicken is done drizzle the mustard sauce on top.

Since we were inside all day, I ended up doing planks while I watched Bethenny Frankel.  She made her How Is This So Moist Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Peanut Butter Drizzle.  So I ended up making that for dessert.  I’m dangerous when I have too much free time!

I would say this was a hit considering there are only 2 of us in this house.  Good thing a slice only has 125 calories!

I would say this was a hit considering there are only 2 of us in this house. Good thing a slice only has 125 calories!

Stay warm and safe.  A shout out and good luck to all the runners heading to Orlando in the next few days to run Disney.  So jealous and looking forward to hearing your accounts!

I would run a marathon right now just to be out of this weather!

I would run a marathon right now just to be out of this weather!

Baby It’s Cold Outside (And Really Snowy)

Those are some fabulous lashes!  (I can't believe I'm doing selfies)

Those are some fabulous lashes! (I can’t believe I’m doing selfies)

Happy New Year!

Yesterday I decided to begin my year of counting miles and was met with quite a surprise when I opened the door, a lot of snow and more of it coming down!  There were at least six inches on the ground.  I groaned and then set off, determined that I could do this.

To say that the run was a struggle was a bit of an understatement.  Most of the sidewalks were not cleaned off or hadn’t been shoveled for at least a few hours.  I should have known things were going to get worse when 2 miles into my 7 mile run my ipod died.  That’s when I also hit the first city owned park and realized their employees had the day off.  How did I know?  All sidewalks had not been shoveled since the snow storm set in the day before.  I’d love to say that I proudly set about as a trailblazer, but it was done begrudgingly.

I ran a good mile on snow covered sidewalks and suddenly I came across 3 blocks of hard packed ground where there had a been a lot of foot traffic.  I thought maybe I had finally reached the point where the rest of my run would be a breeze and then I saw McDonalds.  The heavy foot traffic was to get fast food.  Just like that, the snow covered trek started up again.  I will admit that I was amused for a good mile or so, only in America!

An hour into my run I pulled out my phone and called my husband, “Don’t worry about me, I am fine but I have a mile or so to go and I can only run 12 minute miles.”  Quite a way to teach a girl who likes to run fast how to slow down.

Always a pretty sight upon my return home.

Always a pretty sight upon my return home.

Having spent 10 years teaching skating at an outdoor ice rink I have learned a lot about being outside for a long time in the cold and inclement weather.  I don’t like it but I have learned to tolerate it.  Below are a few ideas I have come up with over the years that might help make the nasty weather a tad less awful.

•Hand warmers and toe warmers can be totally awesome.  I spent the past few years tucking hand warmers inside my skates on top of my toes.  Yesterday I put toe warmers on top of my socks and that worked really well.  Don’t put them under your feet, the cold from the ground negates any heat to your feet.

•Smart wool socks are the best at keeping you warm and wicking the sweat.  They make socks for skiing and snowboarding that come with some extra compression around the arches of your feet.  If you are planning a long run this is an added bonus.  They also stay up which is important to me; if I am going to wear long socks for extra warmth it drives me nuts when they fall down.


•Lululemon dog walker pants and winter mittens are hands down #1.  I know, they are pricey and they don’t like us girls that have legs that rub together.  However, I will say anything I have purchased from them for running has been worth the investment.  These pants have an outer layer to keep the wind from getting to you and inside they have a form fitting tight.  Warmest thin pants you can get.  Sorry gents they don’t make them for you, I’ve looked.  The cotton mittens are super thin and the warmest ever.  If I try running in them above 30 degrees my hands sweat.


I pulled the left side up to show you the under layer tight.

•Columbia Omni Heat wool hats and mittens do the trick on any cold run.  They are thin and washable.  Throw some hand warmers in there if it is super cold.


Those are the Lululemon mittens I love, hanging out next to a Columbia Omni Heat hat. Don’t believe the rumors, they get along well!

•Finally, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to stay super warm.  All of my cold weather running jackets are from Old Navy.  They make some great fleece jackets that are thin and work perfectly with an Under Armour cold gear shirt underneath.  I get so many compliments on these jackets and last year I found them on sale for $10 so I bought one in each color!

Check out www.uniqlo.com for some perfectly priced, thin Heattech clothing.  They use this awesome heat technology to provide long underwear quality for a below budget price.  I have their long underwear tights, pants, and shirts as well as a body warmer and long socks that stay up when you run.  It is so thin and so budget friendly you have to try it to believe it.

Stay warm and happy running!

A quick shout out to www.fitnessmeetsfrosting.com for her delicious recipe for cauliflower pizza.  My husband hates cauliflower but I made this the other night anyway.  He loved it.  I loved it.  It was a total hit and a delicious way to enjoy pizza minus all the carbs and calories.  Check it out.

So good.  I spread pesto on the crust and added just a touch of cheese and olives.

So good. I spread pesto on the crust and added just a touch of cheese and olives.