Keeping It Clean

In last week’s article I discussed “the Raw Food Diet” and I mentioned that I would go in to more detail about clean eating. Both Abby and I follow clean eating principals in most of our meals. I do it for more energy, healthier skin and body, and I believe that it helps me keep my energy levels stable whether I am competing or not. For those of you who are not familiar with this practice let me go in to a little more detail.


What Is It?

In a nutshell, eating clean is the practice of eating whole, natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates. It also means staying away from many foods that typically make up the standard American diet. These foods include man-made sugar, hydrogenated and trans-fats, preservatives, white bread, and any other ingredients that are unnecessary. An easy way to remember if a food is clean is: “if it is man made, don’t eat it or keep it to a minimum.”


What Do You Eat?

There are a variety of foods you can eat while eating clean. The following are a few principals that encompass the “Clean Eating Diet”:

  • Eat whole foods: The foods you eat on this plan are straight from the farm: whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, grass-fed and free-range meats, low fat dairy products, unsalted nuts, and seeds.
  • Avoid processed foods: Processed foods are any food that has a label. A label means that more than one ingredient was used to make that food. You do not have to eliminate pasta or whole grains just try to get them in their simplest form.
  • Eliminate refined sugar. Refined sugar provides nothing but calories. Other sweeteners can be used, but with all the good foods you add to your diet, refined sugar really has very little place in the eating clean plan.

How Do You Eat Clean?

Volume and timing are key component to the clean eating way of life.

  • Eat five or six small meals a day. By eating smaller meals throughout the day you can help rev up your metabolism and reduce the chance of “falling off the wagon”. You never get so hungry on this plan that you feel deprived or feel the need to cheat.
  • Combine protein with carbohydrates. When you do snack or eat a meal, make sure that meal is balanced. If you combine a protein with a carbohydrate you will give your body the furl it needs as well as keeping yourself from feeling deprived or hungry.

The reasons to eat clean are endless. Better health, avoiding certain diseases, having more energy and looking better overall are just a few of the main reasons I eat clean. It is really about how healthy foods make me feel and about what they do for me, my health, and the health of my family. Next time I will talk about how clean eating, exercise, and family all roll in to one for me.

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Sleeping Beauty?

As fall approaches, the school bells toll and your summer schedule hits the fan. Hopefully, in a short matter of time your family will establish new bedtimes, homework routines, exercise plans and regular date nights. Wishful thinking, right?

Often the first thing to go when life gets hectic is a good night’s sleep. If you’re really disciplined, you can tuck the kids in right on time, even if the sun is still poking its head over the horizon. But more than likely, as their sleepy heads hit the pillow, you’ll traipse purposefully back to the kitchen or the computer to clean up the dishes or bang out a few quick emails (or check Facebook).

Tomorrow morning, if you’re really disciplined, you’ll pop out of bed without hitting snooze and squeeze in a quick fitness DVD before the kids wake up and before the sun stretches its glowing arms. Most adults can cling to this type of routine for several weeks and the real warriors can do it indefinitely. But is that smart?

It’s not really news that our bodies crave 7-8 hours of sleep each night. It’s just not practical. However, did you realize that your waist line might be suffering? You might be dragging your body out of bed and into the gym and sabotaging your goals over night.

In an article for WebMD, Mark Mahowald, MD, director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Hennepin County said, “On average, we need about 7.5 hours of quality sleep per night. If you are getting this already, another half hour will not help you lose 10 pound, but if you are a five-hour sleeper and start to sleep for seven hours a night, you will start dropping weight.”

So what are you going to do? What real steps can you take to increase your time under covers? You set big weight loss and health goals. You’ll do anything to reach them, right? What about getting a little more sleep?

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SPIN – it’s more than a workout

If I say SPIN, what do you think of?

If you’re reading this in the framework of fitness, you probably just imagined a room full of low-profile bikes. Dozens of sweaty people are pedaling as fast as they can and getting absolutely nowhere! But they’re loving it. Someone is at the front of the pack screaming directions over the crush of loud, motivating music.

And you’d be right, that’s definitely SPIN.

Or you might think of the bajillion proverbial plates you have in the air. Somehow, in a superhuman feat you manage to keep your life precariously balanced and a serving of every friend and family member’s happiness whirling at all times. Good for you! Right? Is that good?

In light of a greater fitness – your soul’s fitness and your mental health, I want to propose another definition of SPIN. I recently heard an interview with a couple, the authors of a new book, From Hectic to Healthy. As time marches on and we are entering into the unrelenting demands of a new school year, I think this is appropriate.

Seasons: We often refer to our lives in seasons. There’s the season of singleness, newly wed, parent, mid-life (crisis), retirement, elderly, etc. Cognitively, we’re OK with that, except for always wishing we were younger. But do we live happily in the season God has given us? The authors of this book suggest that we begin to feel overwhelmed when we try to live outside our season.

If you’re struggling to find time to fit in your workouts, or any other important aspect of your life, ask yourself if you are trying to
do this thing in light of your current season. Be reasonable, give yourself some grace. Challenge yourself, yes, but remember
there is season for everything and the time for all your dreams and goals will arrive in God’s timing.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven,” Ecc. 3:1.

Priorities: set your priorities according to your season. By the way, your health is YOUR responsibility and it’s important to your family too! So don’t put that at the bottom of the list. God has been persistently reminding me lately that REST is a key component of health!

Isolation: You probably feel like isolation is something you would pay to have! Many women are in the season of kiddos and chaos; happy family times, but tiring nonetheless. Or you may be feeling isolated from adult companions.  Spinning your life faster to include more things isn’t the answer! Find one thing, start with just one, from the bottom of your priority list and draw a big black line through it! Now, go join a Moms Who TRI bootcamp – get your friendship and fitness in one, enjoyable hour!

Neglect: This is MOMS Who TRI, and the only things moms frequently neglect is themselves. That’s what Moms Who TRI is all about. It is an environment for busy moms to prioritize their health, spend time with their children and enjoy fellowship with other women.

SPIN – This fall, ditch that feeling of spinning your wheels and getting nowhere. Discover and fully live in your SEASON. PRIORITIZE and let something go! Don’t ISOLATE yourself, or maybe you need to eliminate something so that you can hide away by yourself and refresh for just a moment. Don’t NEGLECT your health behind the guise of being too busy to workout. You are important, too!

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Going Raw

I just recently purchased an amazing blender called the OmniBlend V. I have to admit that I have been coveting the Vitamix and the Blendtec for a while but could not bring myself (and my budget) to purchase it. With the blender came a book written by Carmella Soleil called “Deliciously Raw”.  In the cookbook I found amazingly simple and delicious recipes as well as Carmella’s story about moving to a fully raw diet. Both Abby and I have long since been a proponent of Clean Eating, which I will go in to more detail about next time, but I felt I needed to do more research about what raw eating entailed and its proposed benefits. Here is what I found out:

What it is:

The raw food diet is based on the belief that the most healthful food for the body is uncooked. Although most food is eaten raw, heating food is acceptable as long as the temperature stays below 104 to 118 degrees Fahrenheit (the cutoff temperature varies among those in the raw food community). Cooking is thought to denature the enzymes naturally present in food. According to raw foodists, enyzymes are the life force of a food, helping us to digest food and absorb nutrients. If we overconsume cooked food, our bodies are forced to work harder by producing more enzymes. Over time, a lack of enzymes from food is thought to lead to digestive problems, nutrient deficiency, accelerated aging, and weight gain.

What do you eat?

There are different ways that people follow a raw food diet. Most people who follow a raw food diet are vegan. Some consume raw animal products, such as raw milk, cheese made from raw milk, sashimi, ceviche (raw fish), or carpaccio (raw meat). Some people eat only raw foods, while others include cooked food for variety and convenience. The percentage of raw food is usually 70 percent or more of the diet. I also found that there were a variety of websites out there that offered recipes and ideas of how to incorporate the raw lifestyle in to a working one. A few are:

The Sunny Raw Kitchen:


Gone Raw:

We Like It Raw:

I am not sure that I am ready to completely stop cooking my food but the information out there about the Raw Food Diet is pretty convincing. Since purchasing my blender and doing the research I have tried to incorporate even more raw foods in to my diet then before. I have to admit that I can feel the increase in energy. Any thoughts, ideas, or suggestions?


Musical Motivation

House cleaning is not exactly on the top of my list of favorite things to do. But, given the proper solitude and a pair of quality speakers, I can not only get the job done, I can make if fun! Crank up some great praise music, or if I’m feeling emotional, classic country music. I mean crank it up loud! Last time, my poor dog was more shy of the radio than he was of the vacuum cleaner.

Music changes the mood, the pace, the atmosphere. Studies have shown that when athletes listen to music their speed increases.

Research suggests that music really can boost athletic performance. For example, a 2009 study by researchers at Liverpool John Moores University in England looked at the effects of music of different tempos on stationary cycling performance. Twelve subjects rode bikes for 25 minutes at a self-selected intensity level on three separate occasions while listening to popular music. Without the subjects’ knowledge, the tempo of the music was manipulated so that it was normal in one workout, 10 percent faster than normal in another workout, and 10 percent slower than normal in the remaining workout.

The subjects’ average power output over the full 25 minutes was found to be 3.5 percent greater when the music tempo was increased. Their power dropped by 9.8 percent when the music was slowed down. (

I haven’t taken a stopwatch with me on a run in a long time, but I can verify experientially that not only does listening to music make me feel more energized during the run, but afterwards it certainly feels as if I’ve pushed harder than usual.

Some people have strange playlists. I knew a guy in my GA running club who listened to classical music. Not my cup of tea. But not many people enjoy listening to talk radio or books on tape while they run. (I can’t say that listening to talk made me run faster, but on long runs, getting lost in the story certainly made the time go faster.) I once trained for a marathon while listening to C.S. Lewis’ book Mere Christianity. 

My husband listens to loud, jarring music when he lifts weights. He believes he lifts heavier when he’s on the power trip inspired by the music. I know what he means.

So what about you? Does a certain music ramp up your pace and almost guarantee a PR? Does something you listen to make you feel like you can run forever? And what if you train with music but the race course doesn’t allow headphones? Too many questions to answer here, and mostly subjective answers. So we’ll start with this one…


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Shifting Focus- From Corporate to Motherhood


When I was younger, I had my whole career planned out. Work my way up through the corporate ladder, achieve wealth and notoriety, and help to make the world a better place. You know the drill. I never dreamed that I would be a stay-at-home who worked 15 hour days (at a minimum), changed diapers like a champ, and receive a 0 % yearly raise.

Somewhere along the way my career-driven mind gave way to my family-orientated heart. My career goals- as lofty as they were- got replaced by personal goals. My goals to achieve shifted from climbing the corporate ladder and qualifying for an annual bonus to teaching my son to read and my youngest to potty train. I am currently COO of Hench Inc. and my employees include my two boys and our dog. My husband, CEO, is often MIA as he is in charge of the raising of funds and my employees are frequently in need of remediation.

Looking back do I regret my choices? I can unequivocally answer, “No”. I would not miss for any pay raises the look in my son’s eyes when we throw the ball together or go to the park. I wouldn’t miss their school plays or t-ball games for a meeting that may get me the position I am hoping for.

Sometimes I still feel a jealous twinge when I see an update of a fellow friend who has got another promotion or pay raise. But then I look at my two amazing children and I know that I am helping to make the world a better place by raising one child at a time.


By The Numbers: REST

I am writing this post tongue-in-cheek and mostly because I need to hear it myself.


I’ve we’ve seen in previous weeks, there are numerous numbers (pun intended) associated with health, weight loss, exercise, food consumption, etc. But there’s an insidious number that most of us with one track minds prefer to avoid. REST.

Whether you’ve set your sights on rapid weight loss, improved fitness, a personal record in a specific race or distance, a certain size dress or anything else, you have a number in mind. Once you know that goal, if you’re self-motivated it’s hard to see anything else. We understand that work = results. Nothing comes easy and we can never achieve our goals without pressing hard toward them.

So why skip a day? Isn’t that wasted time? Couldn’t that time be better used sweating? How can rest possibly be productive? In fact, in more arenas than fitness we often see rest as laziness. Guilty as charged.

True confessions, I recently started a new workout program that listed today, Day 3, as a day of moderate cardio and stretching. Ummm…I failed. I chose to do one of my go-to killer cardio workouts. You know the kind, the type of workout that you have a love-hate relationship with?

So what’s wrong with pushing hard, harder and as hard as you can – all the time? Over training will sneak up on you. When you get caught in the trap of over training, you are no longer headed toward progressing gains and faster success. Your immune system will begin to suffer, muscles become more susceptible to damage and emotionally your enjoyment of sport and exercise will begin to decline. When these factors and others compound, your progress can start a steep decline.
Suddenly, you may find yourself on the couch recovering from your bad choice of ignoring your body’s need to rest, instead of plowing through one more workout.
So, is there a magic number for rest? What’s the perfect proportion of work to rest? Sadly there is no such thing, but there are a couple principles.
1. when strength training, don’t work the same muscle groups two days in a row
2. if you do full-body strength workouts, put a day of cardio, stretching, yoga or Pilates between weight training days
3. take one day off (completely off) each week – you may still participate in active rest (take the dog for a walk, play with your kids, take a fun  bike ride
4. Listen to your body (don’t be a wimp, but…) if you’re especially sore, take a day of rest
5. there are several typical work/rest patterns that veteran athletes employ: 2 days one, 1 day off; alternate days between strength and cardio; take the weekends off, and too many others to list
So. I promise to be more attentive to my body and realistic about my goals and the right, healthy way to reach them. Will you?
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