runningWhen it comes to maintaining or improving your health and fitness, one of the best ways to stay motivated throughout the year is to enter upcoming walks, runs or triathlons, and train for them. It’s always fun to have that next big event to talk about and prepare for and it’s also helpful to know that you are not the only person out there training for this event.

However, if races just aren’t your thing or if training for the same types of events year after year is not appealing to you, I’d like to suggest two major hikes that will require at least 6 months of training: Hiking Cactus to Clouds and hiking Mt. Whitney in one day.

Both of these hikes require a full day and when I say “full day” I mean starting before sunrise and hopefully finishing by sundown. They will kick your butt and make you feel exhausted. At times you may even want to sit on the ground and cry. But, with proper training, the right food and lots of water you will eventually look back on your accomplishment with pride and a new found strength for future athletic, and life endeavors.

As for that sense of camaraderie that many people enjoy while participating in 10k’s, marathons or organized bike rides and swims, these two hikes will provide that and possibly more. Each time I have hiked Mt. Whitney or Cactus to Clouds I have experienced only the best in humanity. In fact, I think that is what continues to draw me back for more.

As we approach spring, I invite you to explore these options. You might hate me at mile 16 for suggesting this, but eventually (assuming you wear proper hiking boots and bring plenty of food and water) you will thank me for planting the seed!

Following is information about Cactus to Clouds and Mt. Whitney. For additional details and permit information click on the links provided. If you would like my personal review of either of these hikes or training tips please email me at leighann@52healthyweeks.com. I am happy to help.

Happy Hiking!

Cactus to Clouds
: This hike is 23 miles. You begin at the valley floor in Palm Springs and hike 17.5 miles to the top of San Jacinto which is at 10,804 feet. From there you will hike 5.5 miles back to the Palm Springs Tram which will take you back to the valley floor. Plan on leaving one car at the start of the trail and one car at the bottom of the tram. Assuming you have trained properly, your hike should take between 14 and 17 hours. For detailed information including permits go to Summit Post’s or DayHiker’s website .

Mt. Whitney in One Day
: This hike is 22 miles. You begin at 8,322 feet and hike up to 14,497 feet which is the highest point in the Continental United States. From there you turn around and take the same trail back to your starting point. The trailhead is located 13 miles east of Lone Pine which is off of Highway 395. (It takes about 5.5 hours to drive there from San Diego). For additional details and permit information go to the United States Department of Agriculture’s website.

happiness & freedomI recently attended a luncheon where I heard 4 thoughts that I wanted to pass along. They are quite simple, yet impactful.

I invite you to explore each of these concepts/ideas over the next month. Hopefully one of them will spark movement in the direction of what you are ultimately trying to achieve.

Week 1:

“If it doesn’t help you grow, it has to go.” Ask yourself what is holding you back and getting in the way of your success.

Week 2:

“If you can see it in your mind then you can have it in your hand.” Is there something you would really like to achieve this year? What is it? Spend 15 minutes each day writing about it and figuring out what you can do to get it.

Week 3:

“What are you going to do to move forward today? What will happen to you if you don’t do these things?” Spend at least an hour this week writing about what you would like to accomplish. How can you break this down into manageable actions?

Week 4:

“If you don’t use your gifts they will be given to someone else.” We were all born with a knack for something. Maybe you have a gift for working with others. Or maybe it’s intellectual or athletic ability. Or maybe you are a nurturer. What talents and gifts do you have and how can you share them with others?

My hope is that after 4 weeks, you’ll have found increased happiness and life satisfaction.

Stack of pancakesI recently felt like having breakfast for dinner, so I dug up one of my favorite all time recipes that my grandma used to make us called Cottage Cheese Apple Pancakes. These are also great before a workout, and kids love them too.

 

4 eggs

1 cup of organic low-fat cottage cheese

2 grated apples

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons butter, olive oil or coconut oil (for frying pan)

 

  1. In a separate bowl, beat eggs for 1 minute.
  2. Combine all other ingredients and fold in eggs.
  3. Melt butter in a skillet. Make pancakes just as you would any other pancake.

Makes 6 servings. Extra mix can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Calories: 158 calories per serving (two 4-inch pancakes)

holiday-weight-gain-photo2As we enter autumn and begin thinking about the delicious food that many holiday gatherings are centered around, it also makes sense to think about continuing with, or adding in an exercise routine. After all, exercise is one sure-fire way to prevent holiday weight gain, yet still enjoy the cheese, chocolate and wine that is sure to fall into your lap between now and January 1st.

To help you do this, I have put together “Five Courses of Action” to take to increase your odds of less weight gain over these next three months.

First, remember this quote: “those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” Hence, in order to have success in your fitness, it is necessary to define your goals, create a plan and figure out why you are motivated. Are you motivated to lose weight over these next three months? Why? Are you motivated to run a 10k by the end of the year? Why? Would you like to simply maintain your current weight over the holidays? When you write out your goals, you are creating the beginning of a map that will lead to your success.

Second, figure out what may get in the way of your progress. It could be time, lack of equipment, work commitments, childcare, holiday shopping, too many parties (is that possible?), or other obligations. Just know that the same things that have been getting in the way of your success will continue to hinder you unless you circumvent those roadblocks with workable solutions.

Third, if you are just beginning to exercise, or if you are going to advance what you have been doing, remember that you are not always going to be comfortable. Exercising is tough work and you must get comfortable being uncomfortable. Pay attention to your body by learning to differentiate between pain and discomfort. It is often quite uncomfortable running up a hill. Your breathing will be labored and you may not like that. It is uncomfortable, but a necessary part of being in shape. On the flip side, be aware of pains and twinges that may lead to an injury down the road. If a specific mode of exercise hurts, then find another one that suits your body better. Listen to your body and be conscious of what it can do.

Fourth, note your progress so you have a clear vision of your past when your perception may become skewed. For example, running two miles per day, 5 days per week will burn about 1000 calories per week. It may take 3 or 4 weeks to see the scale move, but over the course of 3 months, you will lose 4 pounds. Sometimes change is so slight that you feel you are not making progress. If you keep a fitness journal, you will appreciate being able to look back and see how far you have come. Understand that making small incremental changes will eventually lead to big results. Just because this year is winding down does not mean you should throw caution to the wind and wait for next year. Burning just 200 extra calories per day from now until December 31st will add up to 5.5 pounds of weight loss or 19,000 calories. Just go do it!

Fifth, accept that there will be times when you are going to backslide and miss your workouts or eat too many cookies. Everyone goes through this. When it happens, revisit your goal sheet and reconsider your motivations. Give yourself permission to amend your goals and become determined to continue moving forward one small step at a time. Do not give up!

Ending the year on a physically high note is about creating a realistic plan, listening to your body and being aware of how it feels. Find your balance, choose activities that agree with your body and be willing to work hard to achieve your desired results. It will make that holiday glass of wine and brie cheese so much better when you know you have put in the tough work!

Eco conceptI see so many people who look perfectly healthy criticize themselves constantly about the way they look which is why I am posting this great article. Though it was placed on the Ironman website, so many of the ideas here apply to all people across the board. I highly suggest reading it if you struggle with this. I promise it’s worth your 5 minutes!

http://www.ironman.com/triathlon-news/articles/2012/11/build-a-better-body-image.aspx#axzz2Mn6gtymS

Hike in sand desertLast week I attended a luncheon that was put on by eWomen Network. I thought the speaker, Linda Clemons,  did a phenomenal job motivating the audience and I would like to share the top four simple quotes that I took away from her speech.

“If it doesn’t help you grow, it has to go.”

“If you can see it in your mind then you can have it in your hand.”

“What are you going to do to move forward today? What will happen to you if you don’t do these things?”

“If you don’t use your gifts they will be given to someone else.”
Have a great day!

~ps2B1.tmpI believe that one of the reasons people “fail” to maintain their weight or keep up with an exercise program is because they place demands on themselves that are unrealistic; demands that they can’t live up to indefinitely. Of course there is a time and a place for a strict routine or diet, but unless you are training for a specific event (like a marathon) or trying to lose weight because of a health issue then I believe that moderation is the answer. It is a great way to set yourself up for long-term success.

So what is moderation? I think the answer is different for everyone, however I choose to adopt my “90/10 Theory on Health.” It is what I do 90% of the time that counts the most. During the other 10% of the time I am going to eat what I feel like and take some rest days from exercise. (Based on this theory, maybe I should have named my business 47 Healthy Weeks instead of 52 Healthy Weeks!)

So with that theory in mind, I am making the case for the recipe I am planning to prepare this weekend. Pumpkin Spice Fudge!!!

For anyone choosing to join me in my “90/10 Theory on Health” here is the recipe.

Note: You need a candy thermometer for this recipe. I didn’t realize this last year so I ended up using a meat thermometer and it worked out fine. Seriously though, you should use a candy thermometer. I am planning to buy one today.

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup (5 fluid ounce can) evaporated milk
1/2 cup pure pumpkin (Libby’s is the brand I use)
3/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 cups Nestle Toll House Premier White Morsels
1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. Line a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with foil
  2. Combine sugar, brown sugar, evaporated milk, pumpkin, butter and spice in a medium heavy-duty saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly (very important to keep stirring). Boil, stirring constantly for 10 to 12 minutes or until your candy thermometer reaches 234 to 240 degrees.
  3. Quickly stir in morsels, marshmallow creme, nuts and vanilla. Stir for 1 minute or until the white chocolate morsels are melted. Immediately pour into prepared pan. Let stand on wire rack in the pan for 2 hours or until completely cooled. Refrigerate tightly covered until you are ready to cut it.

To cut, lift from pan and remove foil. Makes 96 pieces.

Remember, it’s what you do 90% of the time that counts – enjoy!

food-001When you walk down a grocery store aisle you will see the words  “Organic”, “100% Organic”, “Contains Organic Ingredients” … and the list goes on. What does this labeling mean?

There are laws in place that determine how a manufacturer can use the word “organic” to label their product. Following is a quick summary of some of the more common labeling terms and what they mean. If you would like to delve deeper into food labeling visit http://www.usda.gov.

Guide to Organic Food Terms

When you buying organic foods, look for the “USDA Organic” label. Only foods in the categories “100% organic” and “organic” may display the USDA Organic Seal. Other foods with varying levels of organic ingredients may be labeled as follows:

  • “100% organic” – single ingredient such as a fruit, vegetable, meat, milk and cheese (excludes water and salt).
  • “Organic” – multiple ingredient foods which are 95 to 100% organic.
  • “Made with organic ingredients” – 70% of the ingredients are organic. Can appear on the front of package, naming the specific ingredients.
  • “Contains organic ingredients” – contains less than 70% organic ingredients.

If a label or sticker on produce begins with the # 9 (the five digit code on the label) then the product is organic.

If a label or sticker on produce begins with the # 4 (the five digit code on the label) then the product is conventional.

Remember, if a product is labeled “Organic” it doesn’t mean the ingredients used are necessarily healthier for you. If that were the case I would live on Organic Cream Filled Chocolate Cookies!

Have a great day.

cauliflowerI am often amazed at how delicious food can taste when it is from a tree or from the ground. There are times when something so simple like a Honey Crisp apple, a slice of pineapple or roasted beets can taste amazing. Of course, it all makes sense when I think about it. If everything that we grew tasted horrible we would not eat it and consequently we would not benefit from all of the nutrients. Natural food tastes good because it is good for us.

Today, I am providing you with one of my favorite fall recipes that calls for simple ingredients from the ground. I first tried this recipe for Roasted Cauliflower at a cooking class with Mary Ann Vitale at Great News Cooking School. Since then I have made it dozens of times, and each time I serve it to someone new I am always asked for the recipe. I hope you enjoy this simple recipe as much as I do!

Roasted Cauliflower (Serves 4)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Ingredients

2 heads of cauliflower
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt or sea salt (not table salt) and freshly ground pepper to taste

  1. Remove stems from the cauliflower and break or cut into flowerets.
  2. Rinse cauliflower and pat dry.
  3. Toss cauliflower with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  4. Place mixture on a large cookie sheet or jellyroll pan.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes and then stir. Resume baking for 10 minutes or until golden brown in color (total of 25 minutes baking time.)
  6. Serve.

Side note: Cauliflower has many health benefits. It is considered a cruciferous vegetable (along with broccili, cabbage and kale) which contains compounds that may help prevent cancer. These compounds appear to stop enzymes from activating cancer causing agents in the body. It is also an excellent source of vitamin K and vitamin C and is a very good source of fiber, potassium and phosphorous.

kaleI copied the original version of this recipe out of a magazine. Though it looked delicious, I knew the soup would be packed with saturated fat and other artery clogging ingredients. So I took most of the original ingredients and replaced them with healthier substitutes.Yes, the recipe still calls for a little cream (the original version had much more), but it is also packed full of nutrient dense vegetables which make up for it.

Enjoy and let me know how you like it.

 

1 pound uncooked Italian Turkey Sausage (I purchased these at Jimbos)
2 slices of turkey bacon finely chopped
1 chopped Maui Sweet Onion
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 cups of water
20 ounces of organic chicken broth
1 potato diced
1 bunch of kale chopped
1 bunch of Swiss chard chopped
1/4 cup organic cream
1/4 cup 1% organic milk

Bake sausage in a casserole dish at 300 degrees for 25 minutes. Saute onion and bacon for 10 minutes on medium-low heat. Add garlic. Saute for an additional 5 minutes. Add water, broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add sausage, kale, swiss chard, milk and cream. Season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Serve…or if you would like the flavors to settle in, cool, refrigerate and serve the next day.

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