What I’m Loving Lately: Last Week of Half Marathon Training, ‘Lazy’ Meal-Prepping, Exploring More of St. Pete

What I’m Loving Lately: Last Week of Half Marathon Training, ‘Lazy’ Meal-Prepping, Exploring More of St. Pete

Hello! We’ve made it to Friday-Eve! It seems like it’s been another long, but fast week. I feel like its Monday then I blink and its almost the weekend!

I’ve wanted to keep this cycle of posting more regularly on here, so this time around I’m gonna keep it short and sweet. Sharing with you what I’m loving lately in terms of what I’m into, my training, outside of fitness and work, and just LIFE in St. Pete!

RUNNING

This is the second to last week of half marathon training! I’ve put in quite a few miles (maxing at 35 miles last week) and have been feeling great. I’ve kept the twice in a row running (one easy, one hard intensity workout) with an active recovery day or rest day in between. I’ve kept this since January of this year, and I feel I’ve responded to it well. I enjoy a nice change in pace (LOL @ running puns) from the hitting the pavement with a bodyweight or strength workout at home or at work. I get a sweat without killing myself. I save the tough workouts for the road! 😉

I have my race, Run Singer Island Half Marathon on 4/20 on Singer Island (Palm Beach County where my parents live. Singer Island is about 20 minutes north). After that I have the Best Damn Leftover 5K Safety Harbor in June. I’m not sure where I’ll be when I’m done in June, but until then I plan to keep about 30-35 miles per week.

I’ve really been into yoga, foam rolling, and any restorative or deep stretching. I usually do this at night before bed along with PT exercises, but have found myself more into yoga and less self-guided type sessions. I sometimes will put on a Yoga with Adriene YouTube video and follow along which I did earlier this week that was heavenly. I’ve used my breaks at work to focus on more specific area of foam rolling (tennis ball under feel and ankle), along with more stretching of hips and back. At home at night, I put on my essential oil diffuser or sleepy time music on Spotify as a way to get myself ready for a good nights sleep. Today at work, I tried meditation for the first time! 30 minutes too! It wasn’t too bad or boring, another good way to de stress or add to your morning or evening routine.

This coming weekend I’m running the Runway 5K at Tampa International Airport with a few friends which I’m looking forward to. Shortest distance for me in a long time. 🙂 Excited to see how this goes!

LAZY MEAL PREP

Yep, it’s a thing. I reallllllyyyy have not been in the mood to cook all the meals or try anything brand new. The idea of me standing in the kitchen all afternoon just does nothing for me. I don’t feel like being creative, racking up large grocery bills (they’re never THAT expensive but still), plus clean-up. And for me in this moment, I’d say that’s totally OK! If you’re all in about cooking up a storm because that works for YOU, you do your thing! I feel like meal prepping goes in phases for me anyways, so I’m sure I’ll be back in the kitchen soon enough. I must say though, the Run Fast Cook Fast Eat Slow cookbook is AMAZING and even if you’re not a runner, there is seriously some good info and recipes in there. I’ve not made one thing I don’t like!

Since I do feel SOME kind of prep is needed for me, I stock up on frozen vegetables, easy to cook or pre-cooked meats or protein sources, and some pantry staple carbs.

These have been some common foods I’ve enjoyed the past couple weeks. They’re items I have on hand and take minimal time to prep. Whenever I use my pantry staples, anything really goes. I’m not too particular on how ‘well’ they will go together. Food is fuel so if its tasty, fresh, and ready to used, I’ll use it!

-Boxed pasta and rice- not necessarily whole wheat, gluten free, or organic—white enriched pasta that’s Publix brand as well as Publix brand brown instant rice.

-Just Grilled Chicken by Trader Joe’s- pre cooked grilled and frozen chicken strips. I cut some up, reheat and put ranch, everything bagel seasoning, and peppers on them! Really yummy for a quick chicken salad.

-Eggs- This I do buy often. I either go with a fried egg or hard boiled. Perfect snack, addition to a salad, on toast, in an egg scramble with veggies. Perfect!

-Frozen Veggies- Steam in a bag is what I prefer. I buy about three different kinds. Added fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and all you did was mic ‘em!

-Fruit- both fresh and frozen. I prefer fresh, so I always have bananas or apples on hand. I also have mixed berries which I love for yogurt or overnight oats.

-Oats- I don’t buy fancy steel cut. Old fashioned is fine for me! I make overnight oats for work and mix in a banana, yogurt or vanilla whey, PB2 powder, almond milk, and water.  I also really like mixed berries, yogurt, oats, and vanilla. Super convenient and tasty. They’re ready to eat as soon as I get to work and include a healthy balance of carbs, fats, and protein to start my day off right!

These are some staple items I’ve enjoyed the past couple of weeks! Like most people, we all have budgets and don’t wanna spend a fortune at the grocery store every week! I’m always surprised how much I can make do with what I have and still enjoy a healthy and satisfying meal.

EXPLORING ST. PETE & GETTING OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE

One thing I’ve committed more to this year is really delving into living and learning as much as I can about St. Pete. I truly truly love where I live. I never thought I would live over here, but this move was definitely a blessing in disguise!

Since life and other commitments have taken over the first half of the year since I bought my condo, I hadn’t yet made it to an HOA meeting. This is something I wanted to be in the know about, without getting too political about it 😛 I finally went to my first one earlier this week and introduced myself as, ‘Ali Swank in unit 310.’ I’ve been in touch with the property manager a few times to help answer some general questions, etc. but I wanted the board to also know who I was. There’s been talk about the smoking policy and making the community *hopefully* a smoke free place to live which I’M ALL ABOUT since I have smoker living under me (it’s not bad or a terrible nuisance, but I smell residual smoke on occasion and it occasionally deters me from using my patio…ANNOYING). I didn’t get all my panties in a twist at the meeting regarding this issue, but I wanted to make myself present. Putting myself out there, meeting others, becoming involved, that’s the goal! BOOYA.

On another note… 😀

One awesome thing about St. Pete is how much they push activity, exercise, and wellness. They’ve created an initiative called Healthy St. Pete that is all about raising awareness of a healthy and active lifestyle through free group fitness. Yes completely free!! Each Saturday of the month they feature either yoga, trail running, hula hooping, dance, basically anything! They meet all over local St. Pete parks on Saturdays. All you do is show up! How great is that?

Last weekend I attended the free first Saturday yoga in the park. It was done by a local yoga studio in St. Pete in Coffee Pot Park (off 30th Ave N) and it was AMAZING! I usually don’t crave a yoga class, but I did that day! Not only was it an amazing class, but I also went to push myself and get to know others in the community. I didn’t make a group of friends off the bat, but I put myself out and introduced myself which was a huge thing for me. If you know me, I come off shy and very reserved so I was super proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone.  I plan to continue to put myself out there and meet others in this community!

On that note, that’s all I have for now!

Thanks for reading and talk soon 😀

-Ali

 

Reflecting on 2018. Excited & Ready For What is to Come in 2019.

Reflecting on 2018. Excited & Ready For What is to Come in 2019.

Here we are again, one year later from my last reflection on 2017. I read my reflection post a year ago today, I was scary accurate! 2018 was a huge growth year for me. I felt all the feels: good, bad, the ugly. I had some amazing moments, experiences, learning opportunities, and accomplishments I’m really proud of. Some moments took a lot of guts, other moments were crushing and just sucked. In a weird way, I feel like I really ‘adulted’ more then ever this past year. I was pushed far out of my comfort zone. I felt feelings I had never thought I could experience. I believed in myself!

I don’t wanna list all my accomplishments because I think that’s tacky, but here are few that really made this past year stand out:

-Bought my condo in St. Pete!

-PRed my half marathon (1:45) using the Hanson Method. I busted my ass 6x a week running. I’m proud I committed myself to the program because the efforts paid off.

-Traveled to Ft. Collins, CO and Atlanta, GA. I had never been to Ft. Collins, and seeing my cousin and her husband made for a great long weekend hiking mountains, biking Ft. Collins, and drinking killer local beer. My mom and I surprised my Aunt for her birthday in August and it was a total success! We saw my cousin’s house and just chilled out. It was a perfect long weekend trip.

-Graduated with my Masters in Exercise Science & Nutrition Science from the University of Tampa! After two years, I did the damn thing and earned it. It was tough, but aside from the knowledge I gained, I made more friends and memories among all the late nights and early morning study sessions and classes.

-Got a full-time job! My first time in the corporate world. I love my job as fitness specialist working with the employees of New York Life in Tampa. I never thought I would be impacting the world of insurance through health and wellness, but here I am. I look forward to going to my job everyday.

Among these moments, were a ton of shitty ones too. I won’t lie. This was my toughest year yet. I don’t wanna dwell on the negatives, but here are some things I’m ready to peace-out to:

-The heartbreak I dealt with. First real relationship I had. I thought it was an ‘end all be all relationship.’ It clearly wasn’t. Things changed between us and we just wern’t the match I thought we were. People grow apart and I learned that. I just didn’t think this would happen to us. I’m grateful we ended on good terms, but its still awkward. I’ve run into him more times then I would like…*face palm emoji.* I’m still healing and I’m 100% ok with being single right now. It kind of is a breath of fresh air, actually!

-Dealing with a shitty apartment with a landlord who wasn’t the greatest. Ok, so it was that bad to begin with…but I can’t say it was wonderful either. This is a good example of not always jiving with everyone you work with. I learned to stand up for myself and leave a place I was no longer happy living in.

-Running and I had a love/hate relationship for the last half of the year. I was on/off since I had reoccurring aches and pains in my right calf. I finally decided my own treatment of ice and stretching wasn’t enough so I consulted a podiatrist and PT. I’m grateful for what I’ve learned and can happily say I’m on my way to crushing the pavement like I was earlier this past year!

In the end, all these happy and shitty moments all ended in one thing: a lesson. Among a lesson, I learned who my real friends were, made new friends, challenged myself, and ultimately more about myself then I ever thought! That’s all pretty sweet if you ask me.

I’m looking forward to a few things, more travel (domestically, and hopefully internationally!), miles on the pavement, new friends, good food, and even more adventures and memories!

Cheers to 2019!

-Ali

 

 

Ronnie’s Run 10 Miler Recap

Ronnie’s Run 10 Miler Recap

Third time posting in a month or so…WIN! I’m excited to be here more regularly lately, so let’s keep this going!!

Last week I posted about on how I was having a low key weekend plus the Ronnie’s Run 10 miler race. It was definitely low key and productive, which in the midst of all the condo stuff I’ve been doing lately, it was nice to switch the focus to something else for a change.

Let’s start this 10 miler recap from the night before, because I have a few things I like to do to get my head set for a race the next morning.

I worked until 7pm Friday night and came home knowing it was gonna be PIZZA night. I always have a high carb dinner the night before a long run or race and knew the Publix Margarita Pizza was sure to hit the spot (pasta, pizza, baked or sweet potato, something with rice alongside chicken and a small salad/vegetables are my go to meals before a long run). I laid low, watched tv (food network or whatever on Hulu), read my book (Sidney Sheldon is what I’m reading now…so good! combo or mystery and romance), and was in bed around ~9pm.  I never have any alcohol since it gives me headache and leaves me feeling slugglish the next morning (light weight over here) so I skip it altogether and save some for post race. Call me a grandma, but I love nights like this any day of the week. I feel relaxed and ready to tackle the next day with confidence. I did this same kind of thing before my first marathon and pretty much every other half I’ve done. Same goes for getting ready for work the next day, an event, just wanting to feel rested, etc. It’s proved a successful pre-run routine, so I’ve stuck to it ever since!

Ready to run, I woke up at 6am to drive down to Ft. Desoto. Ft. Desoto is a beautiful and historic area and state park. It has beaches all along the shore and nice flat gravel roads and sidewalks—perfect for running, walking, and biking! They have pavilions, piers, plenty of parking, cute cafes/sandwich shops, and all kinds of outdoor recreation rentals (paddleboards, bikes, kayaks, you name it!). Not to mention, the historic fort you can walk through and explore. It’s basically the perfect place for a race, and in fact—they offer triathlons and other races there throughout October-April.

I arrive at the park at 6:30am ish and park at the north beach. A lot of cars begin to arrive and runners and walkers start exiting their cars to walk, run, and warm-up. They had vendors near the starting line, bathrooms, and music so a bunch of people, including myself head over there. From there I warm-up and head back to the vendor area. I find a friend from my outdoor bootcamp days and graduate program, Liz of Liz Anthony Nutrition who sells protein bites (AMAZING by the way!) and we chat until we head over to the start together. There was a 5k race which she did and the 10 miles which I did. Both races started together until the 5k veered off from the 10 mile course. Another cool thing, was the fact that the 10 miler race had pacers. I don’t really use the pace groups, and wasn’t planning on using them, but I ended up sticking with the ~9 minute pacer for the first 5 miles. I felt good and strong. All the training group runs I’ve been doing since July were paying off!

It wasn’t until the turnaround point (~5 miles, an out and back course) that I felt I was slowing down. I became sluggish and my strength to keep up was waning. At this point, I had about ~4 miles left to go, and was having every negative thought get into my head. I finally talked myself out the negativity and reminded myself of positive mantras. Some included “one foot in front of the other”, “run your own race”, “you are made to do tough things”, “keep moving”, “you can do this”, and what felt like a million other little phrases of affirmation to get me through. I admit, the further I’ve run for this race was 7 miles, about the right time I felt sluggish with about ~3-4 miles left to go. I kept saying these phrases over and over and didn’t let the pace group I saw leave my view get to me.

As I continued to slow, I gave myself permission to walk through the water stops for the last 5k of the race. I never do this, and was initially hard on myself for “giving in” but I knew I wanted to feel good and finish strong whatever the clock said. I don’t think it took much time off, so it was definitely well worth it to give myself a mental break and get some water (it was starting to get warm out too).

I finished in 1:34, which I am pleased with and will take despite how I felt during the last half. I estimated an hour to an hour and a half, and I was pretty much right on!

The post race celebration was good yet simple. A no-frills type of finish. They handed out chocolate milk (YUM! hit the spot too) and water. They didn’t really have breakfast or food (like no bananas…hmm). It ended up being fine because I ended up leaving shortly after saying goodbye to my friend Liz and heading back home to get my new dresser delivered!

The one con of the whole event, was not the event itself, but the fact that I chafed like a mother f***** and I will NEVER wear shorts for that distance or longer ever again!! lol. I’m not being dramatic when I say that I was torn up and so uncomfortable for about 4 days. Thank God for nonstick antibacterial gauze pad and yoga pants LOL. I just started back running today (one week later). I bought those Nike biker longer training shorts so, if anything, I’m expanding my workout wardrobe LOL.

Moral of the story, I did this race because I wanted a baseline measurement before starting my half marathon training in a few weeks. I now know what I have to work on, and I am ready and excited to once again commit to the Hanson marathon method again!

Have a fabulous weekend friends 🙂

Beet, Yellow Tomato, and Feta Salad with Citrus Dressing

Beet, Yellow Tomato, and Feta Salad with Citrus Dressing

Happy Friday!

You know what I love about summer? All the fresh produce in the stores! So many types of fruit and veggies come out of hiding (or at least I just notice them) and I feel so creative on what I can do with them.

This was one of the “AHA!” moments where I was digging through my pantry and looking for anything to use up in my fridge. I kept seeing my yellow tomato on my counter all week and went back and forth in my head: 1.) why did I buy it and 2.) what I could do with it besides just put in a sandwich or salad.

I had seen a recipe somewhere about a citrus dressing and the minimal ingredients it called for and once I put two and two together, I knew I had to just go with it and see what happened!

BOOM! This salad was born!

I feel this is the perfect way to welcome summer. Nothing says summer like fresh produce tossed together in a light, refreshing dressing on a hot summer day. Who want’s to be standing over a stove or in a hot kitchen this time of year anyways? If you’re like me, want something quick, fresh, and healthy so you can get back outside! Another reason this salad is great. It’s travels well so it’s great for picnics and BBQs too.

I used reduced fat feta cheese to watch the calorie intake and jarred beets since they’re packed in a tangy vinaigrette that enhances the flavor of the salad. Use what you have though. This is an easy salad that would sure to please anyone no matter what you put in it!

This makes one serving, so double up if you’re bringing for a crowd.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp of reduced fat feta cheese
  • 1 small yellow/heirloom tomato
  • 1/2 c baby carrots, chopped
  • 1/4 c jarred beets (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 medium celery branches, chopped
  • 1/4 c chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Salt and Pepper

Method

  • Mix carrots, celery, tomato, beets, chickpeas, and feta together in a bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, combine olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, and salt and pepper
  • Pour dressing over veggie mixture and toss together

Grab a fork and enjoy!

Your Turn:

What is your go-to summer side dish?

What are some healthy pantry staples you like to keep on hand?

What is your favorite thing you love about summer?

 

Summertime: Five Things I’m Loving Lately

Summertime: Five Things I’m Loving Lately

Hey! It’s been awhile since I’ve been on my little blog. This past semester with school has been a crazy one, yet again. I knew it was gonna be a nutty one, so blogging went straight to the back-burner until I was done. It was definitely a good decision on my part! I’ll probably go back to putting it on the back-burner in the fall. But for now, expect to see me on here more often!

Summertime this year is a chill, yet productive one for me so far. No big trips planned or classes I need to take. I’m using this time to learn more about myself through my internship, my training, my current work, and to take time to see myself where I want be a year from now…no more schooling and in a full time career (fingers crossed!). Long story short.

With those things in mind, I took time to reflect on what I’m loving in my life right now. It’s so easy to keep looking ahead or planning for the future. I find that I see myself as “not good enough” or comparing myself to others. It’s a dumb game and wastes time. Period. Reflecting on what I love about my life right now, is good way to start planning on what I can take with me into the summer months and fall semester.

SO what am I loving? SO MANY THINGS!! I had to narrow it down some, but these are my FIVE things I’ve been loving lately:

1.) Catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. I’ve been hanging with my girl, Lindsey (@runnaroundd) more lately and have loved our coffee dates together. We’ve not always been in touch, but we’re on the same page with fitness and our love for coffee, so you could say we hit it off every time. Other friends have gone to the wayside lately, and that’s okay too. Those people will reappear when the time is right. Until then, there’s always room for new friends right?

2.) Eating more fruit. Sounds weird, because I always eat fruit and have always loved it, but something about fresh summer fruit sounds so refreshing! I love frozen pineapple or mango in smoothies and watermelon with feta and balsamic vinaigrette…YES, the ultimate summer snack.

3.) Not following a training plan. I said it. It feels weird. I’m being honest. It’s nice to not revolve your life around training for a marathon. I truly love the training and see myself running a marathon again for sure, but this time of year with it being so hot in Florida, I don’t feel the need to run for distance or train for an event. Right now, I love running the distance I wanna run when I wanna run it…type of thing. I do bootcamp one time per week, strength day one time per week, HIIT one time per week, running in between, and yoga. It’s a good mix and I’m not focused on one one kind of movement. I’m sure by the end of the summer I’ll be craving some kind of race to train for!

To keep me focused, without any races on the horizon, I’m considering doing a run streak. Ya know, one of those “run a mile a day from this date to this date”…yep! It’s sounds like it could work since I have a goal, but nothing crazy. Consistency seems to be what I’m craving anyways.

4.) My Special Olympics Internship. I LOVE my this internship. BOOM! It has by far been the most eye opening experience I’ve had. I truly love seeing my class and putting together lesson plans (I’m teaching health education to SO athletes). I love the creativity behind it and the topics I cover with them. My students give me a challenge in the best way possible. We’ll see where this goes from here!

5.) Taking school off for the summer. Although I’m technically “in school” during this internship, I’m not in the classroom. I have no classes for credit to take (I’ve completed them), homework, studying for a test, or showing up to do. It is a blessing since this program is truly a constant grind and this time off has been worth it. I know I’ll feel refreshed and ready to get back for the fall semester!

Your Turn!

  1. What is your fitness routine like lately?
  2. What are your favorite summer recipes?
  3. Any new experiences that you’ve learned from?

 

Monday Motivation: Tired of Starting Over?

Monday Motivation: Tired of Starting Over?

Hellooooo!! Monday Motivation time. Been trying to get more ideas for topics, and this one came to mind! How many times does it seem like you’ve yo-yoed back and forth with a fitness routine or healthy habits? This time of year is notorious for that. Instead of setting the scale back ten pounds, use this time to figure out why you keep restarting. Below are some factors that may help you figure out why!

  • Not sure what you like/don’t like when it comes to exercise
    • Possible ideas: group fitness cardio/strength training classes, working out alone vs. a group/dependable workout buddy, mind-body workouts (yoga, barre, pilates), recreation (biking, running, swimming), social ties (running/biking club),  willing to invest in a  personal trainer? (see personal training tab for more info ;)), etc.
    • Take into your account your personality, interests, schedule etc.
    • Its okay to NOT like something!
    • Make a note of what you like and don’t like…e.g. like spin, but not a fan of the class time or instructor? try another!
  • Location
    • Possible ideas: outside at a local park, big box gym vs. private boutique style gym, female based gym (curves), travel time (close vs. further away), corporate fitness gym. Deciding on location can be a make-it or break-it factor since it is a reflection of how often you will go. 
  • Emotions (this may take more thought)
    • Possible ideas: underlying cause to feeling a certain way towards exercise, nervous, intimidated, open to new things, enthusiastic to making a change etc. If you struggle with investing in a gym because you feel intimidated/excited for change, ask yourself WHY do you feel intimidated/excited for change.
  • Costs/budget
    • Possible ideas: Exercise doesn’t have to be costly!! Gaining happiness and starting a healthy lifestyle doesn’t require hefty price tag, however it may mean a small investment to jump start your routine. Buying workout clothes from Target is more affordable then Nike, running/walking in your neighborhood doesn’t require a gym membership, and healthy recipes can be found on the internet (particularly on pinterest!).
  • FOOD!
    • Sometimes a big culprit is not exercise but food. Yo-yoing because you feel confused over calories, what a fat or carb is, what is good for building muscle, etc. is something that is immensely helpful in achieving our goals. Checking out resourceful sites such as acefitness.org on nutrition basics can make a difference. If its a combination, looking into Weight Watchers or Beachbody can help with both exercise and nutrition! If you are serious about investing your time in to eating well, utilizing a nutritionist or RD is the ultimate way to go!
  • Lifestyle Choices
    • Being on the go, eating out a lot, food choices (e.g alcohol consumption, minimal fruits/veggies), vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, allergies, picky vs. non-picky eater etc. The little things you might not think of play a role too!

Even if you don’t make the effort now to do this, setting yourself up for success in the new year will still help you in figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to jot down thoughts in a notebook, bounce ideas of others, do some research on a topic, heck! try on different styles of workout clothes to see what stuff/brands you like and don’t like! What works for you may not work for someone else, so there is NO RUSH! Exercising and healthy living isn’t going anywhere so focus on you and do it right. Don’t be afraid to DIG DEEP and be HONEST with yourself! You know you the best! 😉