Trick or Treat

A study by the National Institutes of Health says that the average person gains less than one pound during the holiday season. That doesn’t mean starting now, does it?

No matter how hard some of us try, it’s hard to avoid the candy and chocolate associated with Halloween. I’ve never been against indulging in a treat once in a while, but I am also very cautious not to give into the slippery “oh well, I’m on holidays” mentality. Not for two whole months anyway.

People with self control avoid these treats and carry on with their lives. As for the rest of us, we find ways to justify a little indulging.  Before you talk yourself into your next chocolate bar coma, consider which snacks might actually be healthy for you. True, Halloween candy is going to be processed, but making smart choices can make the difference between afternoon energy and an afternoon crash. Not to mention the sluggish post-candy workouts you can easily avoid.

  • Peanut M&Ms – In my research, Peanut M&Ms are one of the highest recommended choices for a nutritious snack. It helps that you only get maybe 8 candies in a pack. However, this treat is also low on the glycemic index, which means they release their sugar slowly and will keep you satisfied for a long time.  A good rule of thumb is to choose any treat with nuts because you know you are at least getting protein and energy.
  • Kit Kat – Because this candy bar is filled with a wafer rather than caramel or nougat, it is a better choice over many others because it saves you some calories and saturated fat. An even healthier option is an Obel Double Dark Chocolate Wafer Bar covered in 70% dark chocolate. If you purchase Halloween candy solely for your personal consumption, give this bar a try for sure.
  • York Peppermint Pattie – This Halloween treat is a good choice because it works on a psychological level.  Mint is a flavor that people associate with finishing their palate, so when you enjoy a peppermint treat, you are less likely to continue snacking. Plus, if you just eat one, you are only setting yourself back about 50 calories.
  • Candy apple – No longer a trick-or-treater staple, the candy apple is still a decent Halloween treat if you find yourself in front of a Halloween spread at a party or event. Beneath that not-so-healthy coating is a good ol’ apple full of fibre and vitamins. Beware of caramel apples, they have way more sugar and fat in the coating.
  • Pumpkin seeds – Not exactly candy, but they are high in zinc to boost immune function, antioxidants, and of course protein. Liven up this classic with a dusting of cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and sugar before toasting.

www.care2.com, www.health.com

Advertisements

Keep in step

A few weeks ago, I went to a cool little running clinic at Stride Ahead Sports run by New Balance.  Under the instruction of a fellow named Ryan Russell, myself and about twenty others learned about transitioning into minimalist running with shoes to try out and a workshop outside. I didn’t quite know what I was getting into when I went—I’m not actually planning to switch to minimalist just yet and I showed up straight from school wearing riding boots. However, it was a great experience, I got some pointers on how to fix my form, and thankfully we were able to test out the shoes outside. We weren’t pressured to buy, we were just encouraged to learn. I appreciated that.

The shoes I tried from New Balance

The Shoes I tried from New Balance

Anyhow, the group went outside and did some exercises. I thought it was interesting that while many of us were told to work on different things like hips, arms, and posture, one thing mostly everyone needed to improve was cadence.Up until now, cadence was never something I really considered. Basically, the slower the cadence, the longer you are in the air and the harder you land. I can see why it’s important for minimalist running, you don’t have much of a crutch when you land and it is important to protect your joints. But if, like me, you are still jogging in cushioned runners, it is still good practice to at least be aware of your cadence.

One way to do that is with an app. We used this at the clinic. Ryan had us run to the tempo of a mildly irritating beep on his iPhone. It was easy to get used to, but I can’t picture going for a long run with that thing ticking in my ear.

We were told a good cadence is 90 steps per minute, or 180 if you count both feet. Many advanced runners I’ve talked to prefer to run without music to keep better in touch with their bodies. Personally, I feel a lot more energized and “pumped up” so to speak with a good playlist. Plus, every time I update my playlist I really look forward to my next run.

Check out the links below of some sites that have compiled playlists for you of songs with approximately a 90 beat per minute cadence. If you have rhythm, trying some out can be a fun experiment. Some are even available on their respective apps. Good luck!

http://songza.com/#!/listen/90-bpm-running-mix-hip-hop-Metro-1/

http://running.about.com/od/musicforrunning/a/Running-Songs-At-180-Bpm.htm

http://jog.fm/workout-songs-by-bpm?bpm=180

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/180-bpm-running-workout-mix/id674707678

Happy Thanksgiving!

Running is the last thing on my list of things to do today. For me, today is about family and good food and drinks. In fact, I am cooking my first ever turkey today a la Gordon Ramsay, and I am excited to see how it turns out. It’s wrapped in bacon, so I can’t see how it could go wrong.

 I certainly don’t have a problem justifying indulging in a big meal. In fact, that might be my problem. In any case, I have compiled a list of figures to make you feel good about having your pumpkin pie and eating it too this Thanksgiving:

  • Turkey is a good source vitamin B6 and niacin. Both are essential for the body’s energy production. (www.bodyandsoul.com)
  • Tyrptophan, the acid found in turkey that makes you feel tired or relaxed, produces serotonin in the body and plays and important role in strengthening the immune system. (www.bodyandsoul.com)
  • A slice of pumpkin pie contains vitamins like thiamin and B-12 that aid in skin, vision and neurological health, red blood cell formation and the maintenance of appetite, digestion and metabolism. (http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/)
  • Both whole berry and jellied cranberry sauce contain antioxidant benefits that may protect you from developing cancer and heart disease. (www.livestrong.com)
  • Expressing what you are grateful for can increase your well-being, improve sleep, help both physical and emotional/spiritual disorders, and significantly lower risk of anxiety and depression. (www.psychologytoday.com)
  • Washing dishes for 30 minutes burns 44 calories (www.calorielab.com)
  • Cooking for one hour burns 69 calories (www.calorielab.com)
  • Eating a leftover turkey sandwich with 4 ounces of meat provides 65% of your recommended intake of protein to give you energy and keep you feeling full.  (www.sun-sentinal.com)

 Enjoy your Thanksgiving meals, and your delicious turkey leftovers. Running resumes tomorrow.

-Sara

Hello, autumn.

Last year I tried outdoor winter running for the first time. Despite doing a Google search of how I should dress, I still wound up coming home from my first run with a totally chapped face and frozen legs. But more importantly, I loved it.

I’ve been running on and off for years. My love for running started when I was about eight years old when I began doing the Super Run at the Manitoba Marathon. I slowly worked my way up to a few 10ks, and eventually two half marathons. My first half marathon was probably one of the hardest things I have ever experienced, ever. I was running in shoes from Zellers that I thought were just fine and developed ITBS in my knee as a result. Even on the last mile—Irv’s mile—I was ready to quit (I still swear it’s twice as long as they say.) Thankfully, my dad, who also runs, motivated me to push to the finish. He even let me beat him despite my holding him back the entire way. The sense of accomplishment I felt that day is why I still run.

I have always been a seasonal runner. I enjoy the cool breeze that accompanies spring and fall jogs. Summer for me is just too hot, and winter is too cold. Until now.

Everyone’s got a list. On my list is to one day run a full marathon. The thought of doing that at this very moment is terrifying because I’m hardly in my best shape. I have developed a pattern over the years. Every spring when the last snowflake melts, I hit the pavement and whip myself into shape for the summer. Given the lifespan of a Winnipeg winter, that usually gives me a starting point of about April. Come June, I decide whether or not I’m up for a race.

I love the Manitoba marathon because I grew up with it. My mother says she can’t remember a Father’s Day she wasn’t at the U of M at 7:00am cheering somebody on. But there is absolutely no way I will ever work my way up to a full marathon with 20 minute treadmill workouts and hiding inside until April.

That is one of the reasons this blog is special to me. But more importantly, I want to challenge myself and runners just like me to venture outside this year and fully experience “Winterpeg.”

I have incorporated this mission of mine into an Independent Professional Project at my school – Red River College. With support from my instructors, I am learning my way through winter running, blogging about it, and video logging what I learn with friends I meet along the way. Keep an eye out for weekly videos from people who know more about this than me.

I am excited to take on my current challenge of running the Hypothermic Half Marathon this February. I look forward to hearing about your journeys too, and I welcome any and all the tips you have on running in Winterpeg.

-Sara