The first half-marathon: It’s just the beginning

Finisher medals are a really cool motivation for me to keep running.

Finisher medals are a really cool motivation for me to keep running.

Never has a bagel ever tasted so good.

Right after mile 12, after “hoorah”-ing with a runner I just passed, I started thinking about the goodies waiting anxiously for me at my first half-marathon’s finish line.

Along with the bevy of bagels and bananas I ravenously vacuumed up after my first half-marathon, I got a special bonus side dish of 13.1 new, strange levels of pain.

The legs, the calves. The toes? The knees? The motor skills (Is that just me?)

My leg muscles might be tight, but my heart is happy.

It was a perfect day for running. Rain the night before had cleared the air of that humid heaviness of summer. It was cool, and I was ready. Add a smoothie, an egg, some Gatorade and a motivating running partner and I was surprisingly excited to get to the start line.

Despite my nerves and my doubts that I hadn’t run far enough in training, my body felt calm and strong throughout the whole race. Although I have a lot of progress to make, finishing 17th in my age group is pretty solid.

What did it for me?

1. Confidence

2. The act of actively avoiding negativity.

3. Looking up instead of down while I was running.

4. A good breakfast.

5. A thought-out meal plan for the days before the race.

6. Decent training. (Though I believe I could have benefited from running farther on long runs.)

7. Commitment to each step instead of thinking about the whole distance.

8. Having an awesome, motivational running partner.

I’m hoping this is just the beginning of a long running career. Give me a couple days, and my muscles should be back to normal. I’ll slip on my running outfit, tie my shoes.

Then I’ll head out the door, imagining that big red, inflated finish line once again – and for a long time to come.

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Vacation doesn’t have to ruin your health routine

Julie Stefanski, a registered dietitian at WellSpan York Hospital. (Paul Kuehnel - York Daily Record/ Sunday News)

Julie Stefanski, a registered dietitian at WellSpan York Hospital. (Paul Kuehnel – York Daily Record/ Sunday News)

Going on vacation can really put a Twix bar in your health routine. If you plan out all of your meals for the week and have an exercise schedule you’re following, leaving for a week can break the good habits you’ve worked so hard to keep.

Luckily, there are some ways to give you some freedom while on vacation so as not to completely slack and eat terribly.

More planning

It might be a pain and some extra work, but try to plan ahead and pack some good food options to take with you on your trip.

“Not only will that save money, but also, you’re not going to turn to more quick options if you’re satisfied,” said Julie Stefanski, clinical dietitian at WellSpan Health.

Another option could be to ship items that you know you’ll need ahead of time. Stefanski said that she has had clients with food allergies and people with specific diets do this if they’re not sure what they would be able to get if they’re going overseas for example.

Pack smart

Think of things that are easy to pack, won’t spoil and won’t melt. Bars are great for eating

Group of foods recommended for healthy "junk food". (Paul Kuehnel - York Daily Record/ Sunday News)

Group of foods recommended for healthy “junk food”. (Paul Kuehnel – York Daily Record/ Sunday News)

on vacation. For kids, or kids at heart, some of the different items that come in pouches can be a great thing to bring along. Yogurt pouches, apple-sauce pouches, just make sure you don’t pop them in your bag, creating a sticky situation.

If you’re going to the beach with a cooler, pack some healthy options like some cut up fruit.

  Continue reading “Vacation doesn’t have to ruin your health routine” »

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Stroller Moms Keep Pushing

I met the stroller moms while on a run on the rail trail. I was heading the opposite way as two ladies pushing strollers ran by… then another…then a few more, I finally stopped the last two women in the stroller train. “Are you guys a group?” I questioned as sweat poured down my face. When the answer was yes, I knew this was a story I wanted to cover.

I’ve watched the weird transition that happens when someone goes from a woman to a mom. Individuality is stripped and suddenly, women are seen as moms and nothing else. I loved the idea that these ladies were embracing their mom-hood while taking care of themselves and remaining independent, awesome athletes. Continue reading “Stroller Moms Keep Pushing” »

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Enthusiasm for exercise

rundogrunI’m in Washington, D.C. for a conference and have limited time options for exercise.  I am not typically an early morning exerciser, but knowing this is my only option, I have been quite eager to “get up and get going.”  This morning, as I left the hotel at 6 a.m. to walk to the yoga studio for the second consecutive day, I was immediately passed by a runner.  By the time I had briskly walked a block, five more folks had passed me during their morning jaunts.  I smiled. There were bicyclists whizzing past, dog-walkers, sprinters, joggers and speed walkers on both sides of the street.  I had this crazy urge to start cheering, “You go, girl,” “Keep it up, Dude,” “Run, puppy, run.”  I felt giddy with my own silliness.  What would they say if a random walker started cheering?

At the beginning of the yoga class, the instructor welcomed us with an opening thought, “Let go of the nagging things in your mind. Put a fishnet over them and move them to the side. Begin your yoga practice by commending yourself for being present to practice. Encourage yourself and be encouraging to others throughout the day.”  Hmmmm! Kismet? Perhaps.  But it got me thinking.  What if we all started congratulating ourselves and others for exercising?

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Swag I never knew I wanted

This past weekend I did my second sprint tri, the YWCA Ladies Y-TriDu5k. Once again, I absolutely loved this race. But that’s not what I want to talk about. What I want to talk about is race swag.

Full disclosure this shirt is not clean, I actually wore it for a run this morning

Full disclosure this shirt is not clean, I actually wore it for a run this morning

Expos and swag really vary race to race. Some big races I’ve done have lots of samples and coupons, others seem to have paired down. Smaller races tend to have little to no swag, but the y-tri actually has some of the best and most useful swag out there. Included in my bag this year was

1. One of the few race shirts I’ll actually ever wear. Love that they do tanks instead of tees

2. 2 tickets to a York Revolution Game

3. $10 to White Rose

4. A  tube of toothpaste

And last but not least the weirdest thing I’ve ever gotten in a swag bag

5. A full size bottle of Nair

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Better your breakfast with some easy swaps

Submitted

Submitted

By Julie Stefanski RDN, Clinical Dietitian at WellSpan Health

What’s your go-to breakfast option?  Maybe it’s a doughnut or other sweet pastry.  Puffed colorful cereal with milk?  Or perhaps you’re someone who opts for nothing at all.

Research continues to support that having a meal within 1 to 2 hours of getting up from sleep is a healthy habit with many benefits including less snacking at night, better weight control, and increased focus on mental tasks compared to breakfast skippers.

But let’s face it- that sugary pastry is never going to stick with you until lunch.  And that raging physical hunger from a poor choice or skipping all together? You’re probably not going make a healthy choice at lunch.  You may catch yourself tossing in the towel, ordering a greasy burger and fries and vowing to do better tomorrow.

Newer research continues to support having breakfast, but several studies have shown promising results on both appetite, weight loss, and eating habits when 20 to 30 grams of protein are included as part of that healthy breakfast.  Protein does not turn into blood sugar until about 1.5 hours after you’ve eaten it, offering a more long-lasting energy source than just carbohydrates alone.

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So, do you eat enough protein? Conquering a vegan myth

Vegans can eat a lot of protein. Shown here are Field Roast vegan meatloaf, tofu fries and peas. Photo by super_luminal via Flickr

Vegans can eat a lot of protein. Shown here are Field Roast vegan meatloaf, tofu fries and peas. Photo by super_luminal via Flickr

If I had a nickle for every time someone asked me if I ate enough protein or showed some concern about my protein intake, I would have a chunk of change in my wallet.

Most vegans roll their eyes at the ‘ol protein myth. How can someone possibly eat enough protein when they refuse to eat animal meat and/or their by-products, right?

Let’s break it down:

Can I get enough protein on a vegetarian/vegan diet?

Simple answer: Yes.

As long as your diet doesn’t solely consist of white-grain carbs, I think you will be OK. (Though, let me point out, there are 7 grams of protein in one serving of Barilla classic blue box pasta.)

How much protein do I need?

According to this article by VegNews:

The US Department of Agriculture’s Recommended Daily Allowance for protein is 0.7 grams per kilogram bodyweight per day for adults older than 19 years of age. For an average 130-pound female, that means 47 grams of protein per day. For a 170-pound male, 62 grams is recommended. Many people are consuming approximately 20 to 30 percent of their calories from protein, which equals 90 to 135 grams of protein on an 1,800-calorie diet (typical female intake) and 125 to 188 grams of protein on a 2,500-calorie diet (average male intake). This is equivalent to two to three times more than the USDA recommendations.

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CSA Summer: Week 2, featuring zucchini ravioli and scallion pancakes

As we mourn the end of strawberry season, let us celebrate the bounty of summer. Behold, our full CSA share from Goldfinch Farm:

Clockwise, from bottom left: Zucchini, two-tone summer squash, broccoli, garlic scapes, scallions/green onions, salad mix, cucumbers. Photo by Chris Dunn.

Clockwise, from bottom left: Zucchini, two-tone summer squash, broccoli, garlic scapes, scallions/green onions, salad mix, cucumbers. Photo by Chris Dunn.

(Brandie took some broccoli, the summer squash, two scallions, a cucumber and half the salad mix for her half of the share.)

The theme for this week? Another week, another pasta rut. We have no regrets.

When I told Jeff what was in our pickup, he immediately thought of zucchini ravioli with a garlic scape brown butter sauce. (Don’t ask me how his mind works.) A friend had given us a pasta maker for our wedding and this would be the machine’s inaugural use, so of course we decided to make one of the more complicated pastas out there.

Zucchini ravioli with a garlic scape brown butter sauce. Photo by Chris Dunn.

Zucchini ravioli with a garlic scape brown butter sauce. Photo by Chris Dunn.

Here’s a list of links we used to help guide us through the process:

  • Fresh egg pasta recipe by Serious Eats: We found that the dough was still dry after the incorporation of the four yolks and two whole eggs, so we added just a bit of egg white, which helped the dough achieve the proper initial stickiness. We also followed this recipe roughly through Step 4. After the ball of dough had rested for 30 minutes, we divided it into quarters. We rolled out one quarter at a time, filled it with the filling, cut it and pressed it before moving on to the next quarters, which remained wrapped so as not to dry out.
  • Ravioli technique by Serious Eats: Because we’re not so fancy as to have a ravioli maker or even a fluted ravioli cutter, we used the “working by hand” technique described about midway through the article. Also, my homemade wonton experience has taught me to NEVER overstuff any pasta. Do not attempt to use enough filling for your ravioli to resemble Chef Boyardee. Overstuffed pasta is difficult to seal properly, and will probably explode while you’re cooking it. Because I went carefully with the filling, we had enough filling leftover to make another batch of egg pasta dough.
  • Zucchini-ricotta filling recipe by Sprinkle Side Up: This recipe calls for using wonton wrappers as the pasta, which we obviously did not do. We did roughly follow the brown butter sauce recipe, except we subbed out thyme for sage from our container garden and added sliced garlic and our four garlic scapes.

Continue reading “CSA Summer: Week 2, featuring zucchini ravioli and scallion pancakes” »

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Bladder cancer symptoms often brushed off, York Township woman says

Brenda Neff, shown in her York Township home with her dogs Lenny and Lilly, was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2001. She had five recurrences of cancer over 8 years, but has been cancer-free since 2009. (Kate Penn — Daily Record/Sunday News)

Brenda Neff, shown in her York Township home with her dogs Lenny and Lilly, was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2001. She had five recurrences of cancer over 8 years, but has been cancer-free since 2009. (Kate Penn — Daily Record/Sunday News)

When Brenda Neff was 48 years old, she said she needed to know the location of every bathroom in town.

But one day at the York Galleria, she realized something was seriously wrong.

In December, 2001, Neff, of York Township, was diagnosed with bladder cancer for the first time. It’s the fifth-most common cancer in the U.S., and she has had it four times since, the last being in 2009.

The symptoms are easy to brush off, Neff had thought she was just going through menopause with occasional bleeding. She decided to call her gynecologist, a woman’s first response when an issue like this happens, she said.

What she really needed though was to go see a urologist, which was recommended to her when the gynecologist gave her a negative test result for infection.

“I wish I had known the symptoms,” Neff said. The tumor was so big that by the time the doctor saw it, it had been there at least six months, maybe one year.

Continue reading “Bladder cancer symptoms often brushed off, York Township woman says” »

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The best part of waking up: Waking up, first of all, and a lot more

The disheveled bed of a rushed young adult.

The disheveled bed of a rushed young adult.

I read this great piece on Medium earlier this week by Benjamin Hardy about the morning.

Ah, the morning. Some love it. Some hate it.

I get to be in that special and crazy group that naturally wakes up at the crack of dawn. Some nights, when I work my late shift, I come back expected to gracefully sleep in through until the sun is high in the sky.

Nope. No dice. Every day, it’s usually 6 a.m. Sometimes 5, sometimes 7. But always early.

And I’ve really come to embrace it. I agree with Hardy that the mornings are quiet in their power. If you’re ready to roll in the morning, chances are, you’ll be ready to roll straight through the day and up until you turn the lights out at night.

His advice? “Wake up, get in the zone, get moving, put the right food in your body, get ready, get inspired, get perspective, do something to move you forward.”

For me, waking up isn’t the tough part. Mornings are the crown jewel of the day. Give me a bowl of cereal, a newspaper or a magazine, a run or a yoga session, and I’m happy as a clam.

There's nothing quite like a quiche for breakfast.

There’s nothing quite like a quiche for breakfast.

Getting yourself jazzed in the morning doesn’t need a huge leap of faith. Start with a healthy meal. Or start putting your phone on airplane mode at night (I highly recommend it). Jump in a pool. Go on a run.

We all have goals, and sometimes our day-to-day life can seem draining or dull. But if you kick it up a notch (Emeril style) in the morning, even the most groan-inducing day can be rad.

Be Emeril. Be Rocky. Be Serena Williams. Or, as my generation eloquently describes, you do you.

We’ve all got things to work on, and ways to improve. The mornings are a great chance for you to recharge, refresh and rethink your life. Pour a cup of coffee, listen to the birds. And realize how great those early hours really can be.

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