Learning to run: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Hope you all had a great weekend!

I thought I’d share the newest addition to my exercise regimen: endurance-based running. I’ve always wanted to be a runner, but assumed I just didn’t have what it takes. I recently realized that that attitude is completely silly, though: the only difference between me and “real runners” is years of hard work and discipline.

About 6 months ago, I traded in my elliptical habit for HIIT (high intensity interval training) running–taking the plunge despite my messed up ligaments and strangely creaky/crackly joints–but hadn’t made too much progress. With HIIT, you alternate short bursts of high speed with rest, such as walking 3.5mph. I loved how running felt, but sprinting for 30 seconds at a time wasn’t doing anything for my endurance. I realized my ultimate running goal is to be able to go on long outdoor runs, especially along trails. And for that, I really need that endurance!

So 2 weeks ago, I started (my own modified version of) “Couch to 5k,” which is a running program that pretty much takes my HIIT routine and slows it down, gradually increasing the running interval length until you’re running a 5k without breaks. It feels weird going from 9mph to 5mph, but I now know that this is what it takes: slow and steady will win the race someday.

The reason it’s modified is because I started it a little bit harder, but am going to progress more slowly. It’s 3 days a week, but I’m also lifting 3 days a week–my body isn’t recovering as quickly as I’d like yet for constantly progressing 6x/week workouts!

Once I’m able to run for longer without stopping, I’ll gradually increase the speed. And then maybe I’ll feel like a runner at last! 🙂

Outdoorview

There’s nature out there?!

A few days ago, I ran outside for the first time in ages, this time at my slowed down speed. It was embarrassing, especially running by fraternities and sororities having barbecues, but I got over it. I saw sights I’d never seen before: I ran to a trail head and back, with the goal of someday being able to run along the trail itself!

I'm pretty much a turtle right now. (the pace is averaged between the walking and running)

I’m pretty much a turtle right now. (the pace is averaged between the walking and running)

Postrun

Blurry post-run selfie… because I was happy, trembly, and the light was dying. 😛

Thanks for reading!

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Recipe: Vegan Pasta Bolognese (with lots of veggies!)

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Lately, I’ve been on a mission to simplify my life in the food department. As much as I’ve loved coming up with new recipes every day, it can get exhausting and takes up a lot of time. So a few weeks ago, I decided to do something drastic: make a dinner that would last me for more than one night, rather than making some whole other new dish the next night like I usually would.

And it was a success! Instead of spending an hour cooking an entirely new dinner the next day, I spent that time reading a book and relaxing after a day of midterms. I could get used to this.

The pilot meal was a pasta bolognese, and it was delicious! It’s a super simple weeknight dinner, with leftovers that seem to keep getting better and better. I stored the pasta and veggies separately, and each night just had to combine them with the marinara and “beef” crumbles.

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Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 4oz dry pasta (I used ancient grain penne)
  • Mushrooms, garlic, kale, broccoli, and any other veggies you’d like
  • 1.5 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 cup Beyond Meat beef crumbles

Directions:

1. Prepare pasta according to directions on the package–will vary by type.

2. Prepare your veggies as you’d like: I roasted brussels sprouts and broccoli in the oven at 400 degrees for ~10-15 mins, and sauteed mushrooms and kale together with garlic.

3. Combine cooked pasta and veggies, marinara sauce, and Beyond meat beef crumbles, and serve hot.

Nutrition info: (using 2 cups of broccoli and kale)

  • Calories per 1/2 of recipe: 420 calories
  • Carbs: 67g (9g fiber)| Protein: 25g | Fat: 7g

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Enjoy your quick and easy weeknight dinner!

(This is cross-posted from my recipe-only blog)

April Check-in

Hello friends! So my 50 day plan was going pretty well, until… I got sick. It’s the first time I’ve gotten sick since summer, so I can’t be too upset. My plans did end up completely derailed, though, as my boyfriend visited me during his spring break, I visited him during mine, and so on, leaving me no gym time.

Because of all that, I had to stop lifting/exercising for a month besides my usual 3-5 miles of walking. I kept my diet on point though, sticking to salads and oatmeal when I wasn’t having huge restaurant meals with my boyfriend (I kept those moderate too, though!). So overall, I maintained my weight–a big accomplishment for me when I’m with him 24/7, since he can eat about 3000 calories a day and I’m a social eater.

And perhaps best of all: I didn’t see any muscle loss! I’ve been back to lifting for a week, and am already back where I left off despite the fact that I’m also back on a cut.

This was after only 2 months total of lifting, with 2 one month breaks! Looking forward to more gains 😀 (This is flexing vs unflexed in February, but my pre-lifting “flexing” before photo looked the same as the left photo!)

Current goals/plan: 

I also have a new overall plan, because I have some new goals: I want to be able to run. I’ve been doing HIIT for awhile, but have no endurance to speak of. I want to run miles on the beautiful trails around both San Diego and Berkeley without feeling winded. So I’m doing the popular couch to 5k (C25K) program, modified to be a little bit harder because I do have some foundation.

Because I’m now weight training and running, I’m working out 5-7 days a week, so my new strategy has been to eat more–especially protein–along with my huge exercise increase. And it’s working better than my lower calorie attempts ever did: I lost 1.5lbs the first week, and that was after a few days of maintaining my weight (so very little water weight involved!). I’m doing a moderately high carb diet, with about 60% carbs, 18% fats and 22% protein in general. And it’s working amazingly for me–I feel full of energy and get way fewer cravings than when I was doing 30% fat!

I think I’ll get back into weekly as opposed to daily check-ins, since I’m focusing less on calories and trying to make eating more of a routine rather than coming up with new recipes every day.

However, you can always keep up with my daily food on instagram!

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Sweet Potato Muffins (Vegan and Low Cal)

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Hello friends! Sorry about yet another hiatus. Sometimes life just gets a bit crazy: between classes and research internships and my boyfriend visiting during his spring break, I just haven’t had much computer time. But I think that can finally change during the last 6 weeks of the semester and through the summer! 🙂 Despite the blogging break, I have been uploading daily to my instagram, so feel free to keep up with my food/fitness adventures over there! (Linked in sidebar)

And now, one of my goals for this blog is recipe sharing: I have another dedicated recipe blog I post on, but I thought I’d share the more fitness-friendly ones here in case they’re useful to anyone. I’ll also post about my current fitness routine and goals soon, since I’ve been making a lot of progress in the last few weeks!

So to kick things off, I wanted to share one of my favorite new recipes, from last week: chocolate chip sweet potato muffins. They’re a tad addictive, and my omni friends were shocked that they were vegan (always my test of good vegan food). They were even more surprised when I told them they’re incredibly low cal, too! They’re my new favorite snack when I’m out and about: I’ve been bringing them to class straight from the freezer and they’re perfectly moist and thawed an hour later.

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Makes one dozen small muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup spelt flour (for gluten free, try buckwheat flour)
  • 1/2 banana
  • 250g sweet potato, baked
  • 1 cup non dairy milk (I used unsweetened soymilk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp splenda, or sweetener of choice
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 -1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg

Directions

Ingredient prep: Use pre-baked sweet potato, or bake your own in the oven at 375 degrees F for around 45 minutes, or until soft. If you don’t have oat flour, make your own by grinding 1 cup of oats in a food processor–I like mine slightly course. Remove from food processor to a bowl, and set aside.

1. Combine baked sweet potato with banana, soymilk, and vanilla, and blend until smooth. Add maple syrup and sweetener, and set aside.

2. Combine the flours, baking soda and powder, salt, and spices in a medium sized bowl. Stir in chocolate chips, then add in wet ingredients and stir. If the batter is too dry, add non dairy milk until it’s at muffin-batter consistency.

3. Spoon batter into a standard sized muffin pan–it should fill one dozen cups about 2/3 full.

4. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out dry. Allow to cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove muffins to a cooling rack.

Nutrition info:

  • Calories per muffin: 90
  • Carbs: 16.5g (2g fiber)| Protein: 2.5g | Fat: 1.8g
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One with cashew butter, the other with coconut butter–both are delicious!

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Enjoy!

(This is cross-posted from my recipe only blog)