Turkey Trots and Travels

Happy Monday!  What an awesome week we had around here.  I think it is going to take another week for us to recover from all of the fun and adventures.

Last Monday we hopped in the car and headed to Chicago.  As you may recall, I did my first outdoor run since August and got in a pretty stellar 10 miler.  My body was definitely feeling it the day after, but it was totally worth all of the aches and pains.

On Thanksgiving morning we headed over to Winnetka where we tried out a new Turkey Trot.  In the past, we have done the North Shore Turkey Trot.  But the prices of that race are rather hefty and the amenities are pretty lame.  On top of that, I never received my age group award from last year and RAM Racing pretty much told me to stop contacting them about it.  Lame!

So this year we opted for a 5k down the road from us.  I typically despise 5k’s because I am incapable of not getting too competitive and end up sprinting until I make myself sick.  However, this year was different because Mary joined us for her first race.  I pushed her for 3.1 miles and we averaged just under 9:00mins/mile.  I can’t complain about that as it was my first time pushing the stroller since July and the race started out on a crowded rail trail.  Strollers had to start at the back behind a large group of walkers.

The Winnetka Turkey Trot will likely be a repeat for us.  They offered indoor restrooms and a decent aid station at the halfway point.  The race was timed but there were no medals (no problem).  My main complaint would be that when we registered and paid, we were told that we would receive a shirt.  Later, we received an e-mail that basically said, “Hey! Good news, we are giving away hats instead.  But we know you guys also like shirts so you can buy those too.”  Honestly, I would prefer a fleece hat to run in over the cotton shirts they offered.  But don’t advertise one way, and then switch it up after we paid.

We also registered Mary for the kids race and I am happy to report that she had an absolute blast.  Kids did get a cotton shirt with their race registration and she was psyched to have a “racing shirt.”  Shortly after we finished our race, the kids lined up and did a 20 yard dash.  I thought I would have to hold her hand but she proudly took off on her own and crossed the finish line to receive her plastic medal.  She was super proud.  She also insisted on filling up my Simple Hydration Bottle with orange juice, because all runners need fuel for a race.


After Mary picked up her medal, we loaded her back into the stroller and ran the 3 miles back to where we were staying.  It was a perfect way to start the day.


We had a lovely Thanksgiving.  Mary had a blast running around with her cousins and some dogs.  Lucy had fun being passed amongst aunts.  We ate some delicious food, but also did a decent job of not over doing it. 


The Friday after Thanksgiving was 60 degrees in Chicago.  Talk about perfect running weather!  Despite the fact that my quads were singing from the mileage over the past few days, I did head out for a sweaty 8 mile run.  It feels so good to be running outside again and at a rather decent pace.

We spent the rest of the day playing in the park with cousins and cheering on Rock’s high school hockey team at a tournament.  The team won 10-2 and Mary loved watching the games, especially because cousins were involved.

Now we are back home and I am happily getting into Christmas decorating mode.  I honestly just bide my time until Thanksgiving passes and then break out all of the fun holiday stuff.

I’m so excited that the holiday season is finally here.  I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving and look forward to sharing some fun holiday season tips soon.  Did you get a Turkey Trot in or a Black Friday shopping marathon?

Does anyone else get psyched when you get warm weather in late November?

Eliminate Stress For A Healthy Holiday

I used to dread Thanksgiving.  I wasn’t a fan of turkey for some strange reason, and I dealt with some tremendous food noise in my head.  However, over the years I have become a big fan of this holiday and have learned that it can be a really fun time to gather around the table and actually enjoy yourself sans guilt.

When we spend a holiday or other family gathering worrying about what we eat and how it affects our bodies, we don’t get to enjoy some of the greatest times with the people we love.  The holidays shouldn’t be a time where we add stress to our lives.  It should be a time of enjoyment.


So how do we go about that?  Below are a few tips from me as a certified Health Coach, personal trainer, and someone who has had to learn these lessons herself.

Start your day out right.  When you know that you are going to be gathering at the table and enjoying a little extra or eating things you typically wouldn’t indulge in, it helps to get some activity in earlier that day.

Our family has made it a tradition the past few years to pick a local turkey trot to do together.  It is not only a great way to get in some exercise and start out the day on the right foot, but it is also a great way to start the day with family and friends.  When we encourage each other to be active, it is so much more fun and a positive experience.


If you don’t like running, that is totally fine.  Go for a walk, hit the gym before it closes, or get the family outside for a tackle football game.  Being active boosts your energy, gets your metabolism going, and also elevates your mood.

Scan the table.  One great thing about Thanksgiving is that there are a lot of healthier options on the buffet.  Veggies are abundant and turkey is a great lean meat.  Just go for the white stuff!

Pick out the healthy options first and make those your biggest portions.  Then go ahead and indulge in those other yummy sides that you love but watch your portion sizes.

Stick to one plate.  Make yourself one plate and commit to it.  If you are still hungry after one large helping, take a moment to determine if it is true hunger.  If you feel that you truly are hungry, go for some extra veggies, or load up a salad.

The same goes for dessert.  Pick one piece of dessert or take 2 mini slices of pie if you can’t decide.  Odds are that it will still be there tomorrow, so don’t act like this is the last time you will ever get to eat dessert!

Bring something healthy that you love.  If you aren’t certain what will be on the table and you want to make sure you stick to a good plan, bring something that you know you will enjoy that is also healthy.  Perhaps you know that the appetizers will be your downfall.  Then bring a delicious veggie platter and some hummus.  Add some garlic to give it a kick and then enjoy!


Remember that one day doesn’t break everything.  Sometimes you just need to enjoy yourself.  One day of unhealthy eating is not a complete loss.  You can always get back on track tomorrow.  At the same time, that doesn’t mean to just give up and eat everything you see.  Check in and make sure you are still hungry.  Try to be sensible with your portions.  But remember that tomorrow is another day and you can start it with a healthy breakfast and a solid workout.

Be kind to yourself.  Food should never be a source of guilt.  No one sticks 100% to their eating plan (okay, maybe Tom Brady, but how fun is that?!).  We all slip up and we all have foods that we love to eat just a little bit too much of.  Be kind to yourself and give yourself grace to have a less than perfect day.  Try your best to avoid the negative self talk.  Food is meant to be enjoyed, not to make you feel miserable.


I can almost guarantee that we will all eat just a little bit too much, and a few things that we know we don’t really need.  Find a way to enjoy it and make a plan for how to start the next day in a healthy way, both mentally and physically.  

What are you looking forward to most about Thanksgiving?

The Days Fly By

Happy Monday!  We had a wild week around here filled with snow and frigid weather.  We lucked out and didn’t receive the foot of snow that was predicted, but I am not ready for winter to be here.  Whether I am or not, it appears that winter is here to stay.

I spent a day at work training clients and we also took some time to finally close up our cottage.  Perfect timing.  I wasn’t expecting the snow to arrive so soon and that would have made for a mess.  We still had our lawn furniture and picnic table sitting outside.


We packed plenty of fun in this weekend.  Saturday started bright and early with pictures with my side of our family.  A few weeks ago we met with a local photographer to get some pictures taken with our girls.  They were so great that we decided to do a large family photo for my parents.  However, when the weather turned from cold to super cold, we thought we were out of luck.

Fortunately, our photographer was able to arrange for us to meet at the Grand Traverse Resort and do an indoor shoot. I can’t wait to see how the pictures turned out, as we used some really great areas of the resort as our backdrop.  If you are in the area, I highly recommend Wallhanger Photography!

It was also really fun to be there because the Beerd Run was getting ready to take off.  I had been interested in this event but opted out when we signed up for our photos.  This is a 5k that takes you around the resort and offers microbrew samplings at each mile marker.  There is beer and warm food offered at the end and each runner gets a knit beanie with a beard attached.  It sounded like a fun event, and judging from the people we saw hanging out in the lobby, it definitely was a great time.  Nothing is better than being able to use a warm lobby and indoor facilities before a race, especially in that weather.  Having quality microbrews on the course and afterwards is pretty great too.  Clearly, this is a recreational run, but if you saw my post on what makes a great race, this one certainly looked like it qualified!

After the shoot, Mary was famished and devoured a donut….or at least all of the chocolate that covered the donut.  Glad we kept that sweater clean until the shoot was done!

If you ever find yourself in the Traverse City area, I highly recommend a visit to the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.  You will find a beautiful facility full of shops, restaurants, great hotel rooms, a fantastic spa, and a top of the line fitness facility.  If you enjoy swimming, golfing, or playing tennis, this is a great place for you.  Oh, and there is a Dylan’s Candy Bar too!


We spent the afternoon taking a drive along the Old Mission Peninsula.  With views of both the East and West Bays or Lake Michigan, this is a stunning stroll.  The peninsula is packed with vineyards and wineries along with a few fantastic restaurants and breweries.

After Mary’s gymnastics class, a run for me, and a nap for the girls, we were off to Grayling where we tried out a new barbecue restaurant.  Ray’s is seated right along the Ausable River and has some pretty delicious bbq as well as a great selection of beer.  We loved the high ceilings and warm fireplace and Mary loved the giant moose on the wall.


Pulled Pork salad was so good!

The rest of the weekend involved some cleaning time and a big family dinner on Sunday.  When the weather gets cold, I certainly love spending time in the kitchen.

We also got in the crafting mood and made a hand turkey on canvas.  Michael’s had a great deal on canvas (8 for $11) so I picked up a few for holiday arts and crafts projects.  This one came together with a little washable finger paint.  After a quick dry, Mary got to use marker pens (like you would use for bingo) to make the feathers.  I added a quick border and we now have a new Thanksgiving decoration.


Next to Mary’s pumpkin we made for Halloween.

On the running front, I was able to log 45 miles last week.  I will call that a giant win for 9 weeks out from having Lucy!  Running is feeling good, although not yet quite back to the speed I would desire.  I was able to bump up the distance of a few of my runs this week and that felt like a huge success.

We are planning on doing a 5k Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving day and I am looking forward to pushing Mary for that one.  5k’s are not my favorite as I feel they are a bit of a sprint and I tend to go a little crazy.  I’m relying on Mary to keep me in check for that one!

Do you have any Turkey Trotting plans?  Any weekend highlights?

It’s The Holiday Season aka Post Thanksgiving

Happy Monday!  I hope everyone in the U.S. enjoyed a festive and delicious Thanksgiving.  Our family had a wonderful time.  Last Sunday we started things off by leaving the 11 inches of snow we got the night before and headed to Chicago.

It had been a little while since we had moved, and it felt so great to be back and see our family and friends. We tried to pack as much as we possibly could into a week and I think we did so with great success.

Mary got the chance to go play with some kids and she clearly had a blast “at school.”

Tuesday night I went out for a rare girls night out back in my old neighborhood.  I arrived early for dinner and did a tour of my favorite grocery store, Mariano’s.  I love the openness of this store, the multiple bars, carts with wine glass holders, and the incredibly affordable selection.  The whole night was a blogging fail because I didn’t take a single picture but you will have to trust me that everything was just what I loved.

Next, I walked by our old apartment.  I couldn’t see in, but it felt nice just to walk by.  This was where Rock and I first lived as a married couple.  It was our first real adult home.  It was where we brought home our dog Louie.  And it was where we brought our baby home.

I then met my friends Kim and Jennifer for sushi at our favorite spot, Fin, in Ravenswood.  I love that Chicago has so many BYOB establishments.  Fin has some of the best sushi I have had and their prices are fantastic.  They offer some really creative rolls and other delicious options.  In the summer they have awesome outdoor seating and lounge chairs with fun ambient lighting.  Kim and Jennifer got a sneak peek into just how much sushi I tend to scarf down. One time when we are at Fin after a long run, a woman gasped to the man at her table as our plates were laid down, “Did you see how many rolls they ordered?!”  #runnerproblems

I may not have taken any pictures of us but I managed to run into Kim again the following night when she brought Mary this awesome Blackhawks hat.  She gets a kick out of the fact that I am a Red Wings fan and loves steering Mary towards her team.  You have to admit that the hat is adorable!

On Thursday we ran our annual North Shore Turkey Trot up in Highland Park.  We have done this race now for 3 years and each year we seem to recruit another family member to join us.  It is a fun family tradition and a great way to come back home and eat all of the food without the guilt (or at least a little less).

I didn’t really get the chance to truly train for this race.  I have had more a lackadaisical approach to my running since my last marathon.  Between moving, starting a new job, and pushing a baby in the jogging stroller, runs are more just a part of my daily routine.

But I was feeling good and gave myself a little extra push for this race.  The night before I created a race specific playlist and threw some songs on it that had great BPM’s to allow myself to push the pace a bit.

Without pushing too hard and ensuring that I still had an enjoyable race, I was able to manage a 10k PR, 3rd place in my age group, and a 78th overall finish.  I was really excited with this run, and thrilled to then enjoy the holiday spread.


All dressed up for Turkey Day!

We rounded the week out with some great family time.  Rock’s high school hockey team hosts an annual Thanksgiving tournament and we were able to check out a few of their games.  Mary loves hockey and we found out that she also loves popcorn!  She is truly becoming a little rink rat.  I have a feeling she will be wearing skates before we know it.



Thanksgiving is a really special holiday and we had a wonderful time enjoying it with family and friends.  Now I can turn on the holiday music without any guilt and start pulling out the decorations!

How was your Thanksgiving.  Have you started decorating for the holidays?


Holiday Party Survival

Tomorrow is a big day in the United States.  Whether you are from the U.S. or elsewhere, there are likely to be a lot of holiday events for you over the next few weeks.  From family dinners to office parties, there is really no way to escape it.

Holidays and parties are some of the biggest causes of stress and weight gain concern.  They can certainly pull us off of our plans.  But if you have a strategy going in, you can still enjoy some indulgence and fun.

  • Have a game plan:  Are you going to a cocktail party?  Is this an appetizer party?  Know what is going on before you walk in the door.  Map it out in your head.  “I will have one cocktail and one small plate.”  By deciding before you go in, you are much more likely to stick to your wellness plan.holidays1
  • Call ahead:  Are you going out to dinner?  Look up where you are going.  Call and ask about specials.  Look at the menu ahead of time.   Go in knowing what would work with your plan and already set to choose your meal.  If you go in with an idea, it is much easier to avoid wavering on decisions.  This can be especially difficult when you hear other people’s orders and start to think that if they can do it, you should too.  While you might feel like you are short changing yourself at the time, once you have eaten, you will feel satisfied and not leave feeling guilty about your decisions.
  • Don’t Assume.  Bring Something.  This is a great plan for Thanksgiving and other get togethers.  Don’t assume that you will get there and see things that work with your healthy living.  Consider making a veggie platter and a large salad for the dinner portion.  Fill your appetizer platter with veggies and load your dinner plate with salad and  you will fill your belly without the guilt.ThanksgivingSurvival3
  • You can have a little bit of everything but not all of everything.  Sometimes when we look at a buffet and consider all of the things we can’t have, we get overwhelmed and then eat everything in epic proportions.  Instead, take one dinner plate and fill it with small helpings off each side and entree that you like.  Don’t go overboard.  Several bites of each delicious treat will leave you satisfied more than you realize.
  • Stick to a one plate rule:  During holiday dinners and meals plan on sticking to one plate.  Pick what you would like but leave the buffet knowing that this is your meal.  Don’t go back for seconds.


    Sometimes this is how I want to approach the holiday buffet!

  • Avoid loading up on bread:  Bread always looks so tasty.  Restaurants often offer bread in “all you can eat” occasions because they know it will fill you up.  If you can skip the additional carbs, you can allow yourself to enjoy the other options.  If you do decide to opt for bread, take a bite and savor it. 
  • Take a moment to consider how it tastes.  Is it an incredibly delicious dinner roll that you get to enjoy on a rare occasion?  Then go for it. Is it similar to bread that you eat for lunch?  Toss it to the side and opt for something you don’t get to eat very often.holidays4
  • Load up on veggies:  You would be surprised to see that there are really so many healthy options on holiday menus.  Sweat potatoes, corn, and beans are all loaded with vitamins and fiber.  Skip the gravies and extra sauces.  Avoid veggies that are laden with fat like green bean casseroles.  Load your plate with veggies and then add in the extras.
  • Before you get too excited decide if it is a rare treat.:  Sometimes we go to a party and see pizza and feel like we “have to have it.”  But the reality is, you can order pizza anytime you want.  If you see a special item on the menu that someone made just for the occasion, that is a much better option.  Analyze your options, decide what is truly special and worth it and then determine a healthy portion.  Once you do, don’t go back.
  • Do dessert but pick one and don’t go crazy.:  Odds are that if you just ate at a holiday party, you had a nice filling meal.  It’s still okay to have dessert.  But scour the dessert options.  Pick the one that is speaking to you the most and then try a half slice or portion.  Take your time, savor the flavors, and then walk away satisfied with your full meal.


    My goal this year is to avoid this feeling.

  • Plan your day out:  If you know that you are going to a holiday party later in the night, plan out how you will approach it.  This could start with a light breakfast and then a walk to work.  If you see donuts in the conference room, remind yourself that they are there all the time, but holiday parties come once a year.  Skip the afternoon treats and enjoy the party later.  Don’t forget to load up on plenty of water during the day.
  • Make time for activities:  Do a turkey trot, go for a family walk, play catch in the back yard.  Remember that any activity is better than none.  Exercise doesn’t need to be intentional.  Move throughout the day. Organize a quick walk after your meal.  The more you move, the better!


    Not going to lie.  I have used this mindset before!

  • Always remember that a lapse is not a relapse:  Messing up once doesn’t mean your whole day, week, or month is over.  No one eats perfectly and there is no perfect way to eat.  Food is a very important part of our lives.  It is a social, cultural, and wonderful thing.  Have fun and enjoy yourself.  If you overindulge, it does not mean you are a failure.  You are human and tomorrow is another day!

How do you best prepare for holiday parties and get togethers?  Do you have one thing that really messes up your healthy plan?

Thanksgiving Survival

I love Thanksgiving.  When I was a kid I hated it.  I thought turkey was gross and I just wasn’t into all of the food.  Nowadays my runger has made me a big lover of this holiday.  I recently read that Thanksgiving has turned into one of the healthiest holidays around.  Hard to believe I know.  But many people participate in pre-Thanksgiving runs or races and there is a way to make Thanksgiving work without killing your waist line.


First: Find a Thanksgiving morning Turkey trot.  This year my husband and I are joining my sister-in-law and her husband for a local 10K.  This is the perfect way to get a fun calorie burn in first thing in the morning.  Joining hundreds of other runners for some preholiday festivities is a great way to start the day.  Plus there are so many races that support wonderful causes.  Not only do we leave our race with a medal but rumor has it that every participant receives a pie too!

Be smart from the start.  Knowing that you are going to have a nice big and tasty dinner should be incentive to be smart and eat light earlier in the day.  Choose a light breakfast.  Grab a salad for lunch or have some fruit.  Consider it a calorie stockpile if you will.  Hold out for the good stuff.

Be selfish.  Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving or going somewhere make a dish that you know will be healthy and filling.  My sister-in-law makes a delicious mixed green salad.  She simply slices some apples and throws in some goat cheese with a nice vinaigrette.  It is the perfect thing to pile on your plate before you do too much damage.  Make a healthy appetizer or a veggie platter or bring a nice big salad to fill up on at the start of dinner.

My friend Shandy makes this veggie turkey.  I just love it!

My friend Shandy makes this veggie turkey. I just love it!

Don’t ruin it before the fun gets started.  Years ago I read an article about Thanksgiving preparations and calorie consumption.  If you snack while you make the dinner you can easily consume up to 1500 calories before you even get going.  Talk about a diet killer!

When the appetizers get laid out before dinner, take it easy.  Grab a small plate and take a few things and then walk away.  Don’t go back for seconds and remember that you have a huge dinner awaiting you.

Enjoy a little bit of everything but not a lot of everything.  When it comes to dinner don’t deprive yourself but don’t go crazy.  Know ahead of time what you are most looking forward to.  Remember that white meat turkey is very light and great for you.  Go ahead and load up, but don’t drown it with gravy.  If there is real cranberry sauce (not in the can) go ahead and have some and enjoy it with your turkey.  Although there is sugar, cranberries are great for you and much lighter than gravy.

Remember that Thanksgiving is all about the veggies.  Many tables will be full of delicious roasted vegetables.  Go for it when it comes to veggies, but steer clear of things like green bean casserole which is veggies disguised in fat and calories.  Enjoy your mashed potatoes but don’t go crazy and err on the lighter side with the gravy.  Again, if you want it have a little and then walk away.

If it looks delicious but doesn’t taste as great as you expected, push it to the side. This happens to me a lot.  Often times I grab something that looks really great but once I taste it I am disappointed.  I have this happen a lot with French fries.  They are one of my favorite splurges.  But usually they don’t come out as great as I like them.  Instead of eating them for the sake of eating them, I have learned to stop.  Leave them alone.  If it isn’t worth it, don’t eat it.

Let yourself have dessert.  This is a great time to enjoy dessert.  Depriving yourself can often backfire.  Peruse the dessert table and make a plan.  Go ahead and grab a few small slivers of  dessert.  Don’t make a scene with it but just take a small sliver.  Most people will probably think you are a genius.  If you are with family or friends and you see a cookie you like simply say, “I’m going to cut this in half in case anyone else would like the other half.”  It isn’t rude in my book and people will probably follow suit.

But remember the same rule about stopping if it isn’t up to your standards.  If after a bite or two the dessert doesn’t taste as awesome as it looked, push it to the side.  It is a waste to your waist to eat it just to eat the darn thing.

I am in love with this centerpiece!

I am in love with this centerpiece!

Go ahead and have a drink.  It’s okay to have a drink or two.  Either go for a white or red wine or a cocktail like a vodka tonic.  Skip juices and when it comes to white wines look for ones with less yellow in them.  That yellow is usually sugars.  Go for a clear looking Pinot Grigio or a Sauvignon Blanc.  Or try a Vinho Verde, an effervescent Portuguese white.  Vinho Verdes are usually very inexpensive and can be found for under $10.  For more bang for your caloric and alcohol buck, grab a prosecco which tends to have a lower calorie content but a decent alcohol count.  Or make your drinks last longer and add some sparkling water to make a spritzer.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!