Welcome Home! Homecoming Present? Raw for the Week!

So I just finished my internship at UPMC Children’s in Pittsburgh, and it was a huge success!! I loved it, and my project turned out great! I did a study on adolescent boys with gynecomastia (excess breast tissue) and the psyhcological damage that comes along with it.

Here’s a picture of me with the final poster I submitted!

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I can’t stress enough what a great experience I had and how much I learned about the research world.  In fact, I think I might be headed for my PhD down the road! For now though, I’m ready to get back in shape and shed all the junk that I consumed during summer in a college town.  Between art festivals, dinners on the porch, and late night pizza and Campus Deli, I was in need of a major detox. So, it’s raw for the week!

I decided on doing a raw diet inspired by one of my friends at Pitt.  I have done many detoxes, so I thought this would be no problem, but it is NOT EASY. Today is my last day, and I am DYING for anything warm.  What do you eat on a raw diet?  Really, not much.  I have consumed more tomatoes and onions than I normally do in a month, and we have bought at least 3 bunches of bananas for our household.

My saving grace has been this zucchini “spaghetti”  with cashew sauce that I made with my mom:

Raw Zucchini Spaghetti With Cashew Cucumber Sauce

zucchini

Ingredients:

“Spaghetti”:

5 Medium Zucchinis

1 Tomato

1/2 Large Onion

1 Red Bell Pepper

Any Other Veggies you would like to throw in

Sauce:

1 Whole Cucumber

1 cup Cashews

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon Garam Masala

1 teaspoon Ground Mustard

A pinch of Crushed Red Pepper

Water for Texture

For the Spaghetti:  Chop vegetables, diced into bite size pieces.  Shred zucchini into spaghetti like strips (we used the shredder shown below)

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For the Sauce: Put cucumber and cashews into food processor and pulse until mixed thoroughly (we used a NutriBullet).  Add in spices and mix again.  Last add in enough water until sauce is a liquid and mix one last time.

The one upside to “cooking” raw is that you never actually have to cook anything.  This recipe was easy and made me feel like I was eating an actual meal rather than just chopped up veggies and fruits.  If you decide to try a raw diet, I highly recommend you go into it prepared because it’s tougher than it sounds.  However, it’s very doable for one week or even two.  Enjoy!

MARATHON WOMAN!!

So guys, I DID IT! My goal of running the Pittsburgh Marathon is one that I can totally check off the list. I completed my first marathon on May 5th, 2013 in a time 4:59:32.

Here’s a little story of my journey leading up to the finish line…

So, I began this adventure to run a marathon in Octoberish (and wrote my goal in one of my first blog posts) and my wonderful boyfriend happily joined me on my journey with no urging or nagging on my part.  The most amazing part about this was that he was NOT a distance runner, but I couldn’t be happier because doing this together was one of the greatest experiences I could’ve asked for.

photo My boyriend and I celebrating with our “Runner of Steel” Medals!

Training was ROUGH. I won’t go into too much detail, but let’s just say balancing a college schedule with extracirricular service activities for me and rugby practices for him was not an easy feat. One of the worst days was the day we tried to do our 20 mile training run, the longest of the bunch. After 7 miles, we didn’t feel any motivation and we stopped. It was pretty disheartening, and made me very scared that maybe we couldn’t do this after all. The next week however, we got out there and felt AWESOME! With the support of each other, we finished the 20 miles like it was nothing. One of the worst training run attempts was replaced with the greatest success we had on the whole journey (aside from the actual marathon!) because we turned a “failure” into a “try” and gave it another go.

After this we were ready to rock.

About a week before the marathon, we started planning.  We knew we’d have to wake up around 4:30 AM to get there for the start, so we started going to bed earlier each night to get our bodies ready.  We ate clean for a whole week (and even tried out this great new healthy restaurant called Muscle Maker Grill in South Side!) and ran short, easy training runs to taper before the race.

 

The morning of the race, we couldn’t have been more excited. We were up and out with no problem and bagels in our hands, and with the help of my wonderful roommate and her car, we were downtown in no time.

Warming up didn’t go quite as planned due to an extra long bathroom line, but it didn’t phase us in all the excitement. Finally, it was time to start. It was immediately overwhelming and exciting, running through throngs of people from all different walks of life.  We started off in total and utter amazement, and we started off FAST. A litte too fast, maybe. Our goal was 10 minute miles, but after mile 8 we found ourselves up with 8:30/mile pacer. We were a litte bit nervous, but when in doubt, just keep running!

We were having a blast, but around mile 16 the whole atmosphere was really starting to lose its novelty. Our knees hurt, we were tired of running and maybe even a little bit (sorry Bri!) of each other. But after a few really good cheering groups, a sighting of Brian’s parents, some Icy Hot, and a few extra gulps of water as we ran by, were were finally on mile 24.

Us around mile 12

We passed my parents here, and they gave us a little extra push to finish up.  About 800 meters before the finish, we started to pick it up; but when you run a marathon you don’t have that energy for the last kick and we were abruptly reminded of that when our bodies halted our celebratory sprint.  We slowly jogged towards the finish line, and with a few feet to go we raised our hands together because WE DID IT!!!

We both burst out crying, because the happiness that comes from an accomplishment like that simply brings you to tears.

 

Right After the Finish!

Running the Pittsburgh Marathon was truly one of the best days of my life.  I will not experience that feeling I had at the finish ever again….until Philly in November… 🙂

 

Loving the Stuff I Suck At: Bikram Yoga and Other New Endeavors

So, my lovely roommates and best friends at Pitt have become my workout buddies for the summer.  I couldn’t be happier that I have some cool chicks to sweat with and burn off those extra calories that come with summer tailgates and picnics.

They got me hooked on Bikram Yoga, and I’ve been going several times a week now.  I like it because it helps me to slow down and think and also to gain some flexibility since I lost a lot of it in high school with all of the miles I ran (without stretching properly!).  The biggest reason I like it though, is because I SUCK AT IT.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am always striving to succeed; but that’s just the problem.  I feel like I have spent so much of my life focusing on things I’m good at so I can be the best that I never have time to get better at the things I’m not so good at yet! Bikram Yoga is the same 26 moves every 90-minute class (not to mention this is all performed in a 105 degree hot room!).  One of the poses, the Standing Bow Pose, looks like this:

But when I look at my self in the mirrored wall, I look more like this:

and I couldn’t be happier.  Why?

Every time I go, I am getting better.

The fact that it is the same moves every time lets me improve from the time before, and those littles successes may one day make me a yoga master.  Maybe not, but I’ll be a whole lot better than before.

This sense of empowerment that comes from improving makes me feel like I can do anything if I try, and I can! This new found empowerment has prompted me to look at more options for my life and career beyond just becoming an RD.  I have researched grad school, extra minors, even Medical School in the past few weeks because why not? I’m not good at medicine now, but who’s to say I couldn’t be?

After all, I’m getting a lot better at this yoga stuff!

What if I never get good at yoga, or never go to grad school? You know, that’s okay too. I don’t need to be the best at the Standing Bow Pose or get the high score on the GRE’s.  I realized this after going through high school with a lot of pressure on myself as a perfectionist: if you’re happy and you’re having fun, then you’re good at what you’re doing.

When Opportunities Come Knocking. Or Don’t: How I found out about the Heinz Micronutrient Campaign

So as you know, I’m an aspiring dietitian.  As you also may know, I am goal-oriented and not one for sitting around.  So, when I heard about the Heinz Micronutrient Campaign and I was interested, I said “what the heck?!” and went straight to the director of the whole operation.

What is the Heinz Micronutrient Campaign? It’s one incredible organization if you ask me.  The campaign is part of the philanthropic arm of Heinz Ketchup.  They provide powders that contain vitamins and minerals to malnourished children.  The powder is intended to be slipped into the child’s food by their caregivers to provide them with sufficient nutrients.

Did you know that a child who is iron deficient in their first two years of life will severely impair the child’s ability, including their intellectual development?  This affects their learning abilities and, later in life, their earnings capacities.  How can a third world country be expected to improve themselves when their citizens are growing up in such a serious deficiency? They can’t.

However, if the Heinz Micronutrient Campaign can reach out to enough children in a country, these children would grow taller, stronger, and smarter.  Long term, this could truly raise the GNP of an entire country.  All that must happen is to get each children 60 of these packets that cost 2 cents to make each year (that $1.20 total), and we truly can save an entire country.

You can learn more about the campaign here at the Heinz Micronutrient Campaign Website, and by looking at the pictures below.

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The campaign’s spokesperson, Lucy Liu!

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The packets that contain the nutrients kids need to grow to their full potential.

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Kids supporting the campaign!

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, I had a wonderful and inspired lunch with the incredible director of the entire campaign and I learned a few lessons in the process.

The first one (ALERT: GREAT advice for college students!!!!) was not to sit on my butt and wait for opportunities.  Really, if I had not e-mailed this woman, I would have never been able to get involved or know anything about this organization.  As a future dietitians, micronutrients are right up my alley.  Who knows, maybe this is something I want to do one day.  Maybe not, but at least now I know about it.

The second lesson is the power of passion and compassion.  After hearing about the Heinz Micronutrient Campaign, I became consumed with it.  I told everyone I knew about it, and even did a speech on it in my public speaking class!  I could totally imagine working on a worthwhile project like this my whole life, because it’s something that sparks passion in me.  As far as compassion, this campaign is the definition.  The long term goal is to have caretakers by the micronutrient packets for themselves (not to make profit, just to keep the company afloat), but they have not been successful in selling. Instead of quitting though, the Heinz Micronutrient campaign is currently just giving them away for free. That’s right, free. In a world where money is number one, this was so refreshing to me.

Last lesson I promise; what a difference one small donation can make!! Those commercials for sponsoring children and adopting abused animals and things like that can be cheesy, but seriously I can save a child’s life for less money than a cup of coffee.  How incredible is that?

Maybe I can save the world after all….

 

Family Fun

I love my family, and they are striving for the same goal as I am of striving toward a healthy self.  I have a wonderful mother and father, a hilarious younger sister, and three crazy dogs.

My Mother

My mother is truly the seed that planted my love for a healthy lifestyle and a healthy self.  She is my best friend, and has taught me how to be an independent woman and shoot for my dreams.  She is a personal trainer at a gym and has changed many lives, just as I hope to.

This is my mom and me taking a break from a great trail run, and we decided to plank!

My Father

My father is the picture of stability.  No matter what happens, I know I can count on him to continue through and handle things with grace and persistence. His mild-mannered personality and quiet confidence have given me the ability of showing care and compassion for people that no one else could.  He also has a passion for fitness, soccer in particular.  At 47 years old, he still plays (and plays well!) in several soccer leagues and runs regularly.

This is my dad and I at my senior prom ❤

My Sister

My younger sister is nothing less than the livelihood of the family.  The funniest of the bunch at just 17 years old, she never lets us rest.  If you’re looking for the messiest room in the house, or the most clothes in the house, you’ve hit the nail on the head with her room.  However, we love her all the same and we can always count on her for a laugh.  She loves sports as well, and is on the same track team I was when I was in high school.  She also has a passion for art, and is an incredible drawer. We have had the best of times, and many more are in the making.

This is my sister and me posing for a picture we framed for Father’s Day.

The Pups

You could call our house a zoo because of these three wonderful dogs we have here.  The two little yorkies, Tate and Finn, are about 4 years old.  They are absolute sweethearts, and no doubt balls of energy. Tate is the model of the group, and the alpha male of the three.  Finn, the runt of his litter, is by far the calmest and slowest of the crew. Our new black lab Ellie is only about a year and a half, and is already an avid runner like the rest of us.  She is crazy, but we love her just the same.

The little dogs…

and the big one! (with my wonderful boyfriend, Brian)

2 Down 2 to Go

So, I haven’t posted in a long time, but I thought any time is as good as ever to start back up!  Although I haven’t been writing, I have made some progress on my goals:

1. Run the Wissahickon Trail 10K

Not only did I run this race, I placed 2nd in my age group with a time of 60:01.  I was very excited about my accomplishment, and instead of a trophy I received a strawberry plant as a prize!  It did not bloom any eatable strawberries, but I still kept it all summer as a reminder of what I had accomplished.

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2. Get down to my goal weight by July 14th

Though I did not make it quite to the weight I had in mind, I did lose almost 10 pounds in one month and enjoy myself very much on my beach trip. I even ate a cheeseburger with grilled cheeses as the buns!  Everyone deserves a break sometimes, even the health nuts!

3.  Run the Pittsburgh Marathon in April of 2013

I will never be able to run this Marathon in April, but it’s only because it’s scheduled for May!  I signed up to run the Pittsburgh Marathon this coming May, and I am so excited to start training.  This morning I planned out runs on my calendar that I MUST do.  Of course I hope to run more than that, but I have found that if I schedule runs for the whole month in advance, it forces me to be accountable and I feel guilty if I don’t complete them.  Below is proof of my registration and also a picture of my planned runs for November!

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4. Become a Registered Dietitian

I’m workin’ on it!  My classes are going well and I apply to the Pitt School of Health and Rehab Sciences in March…keep your fingers crossed!

Hope to keep posting more soon about my progress….this week I plan to make apple nachos and vegan spinach burgers so I will let you all know how that turns out!

Thanks and stay sound,

The Sound Student

Thrill of the Trail

My Running Story

I’ve been a runner all my life, and ran on my high school’s cross country and track team.  However, when I went to college, there was no scheduled “practice” for me to go to.  For a while, this posed a major problem for me.  I didn’t fit the running into my schedule, so I just didn’t run.

I wasn’t running much and I started to gain weight and feel pretty crappy about myself on a daily basis.  I was in a big slump; until I discovered trail running at Baldpate Mountain in Lambertville, NJ.

Hard to believe, especially for all those non-runners out there, but the nature really does make you forget about how hard the workout is.

The Benefits of the Trails

Trail running is a great total body workout because of the agility it requires.  All of the rocks and roots and twists and turns cause your body to have to react quickly.  This quick movement is an easy was to gain muscle strength and tone while also improving your cardiovascular ability.

Not a runner? Try walking or hiking first (I take my dog Ellie there all the time!). Long story short, I truly believe that trail running can turn any non-running, lazy college kid into an avid runner and fitness freak.

I hope you love it as much as I do!

The View From The Top Of The Mountain.

The Trail I Took To Get There.

Who could resist this beauty?

Green Juice

So my new thing for the past week is this green juice.

My inspiration came from the movie Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.  This movie features a man who is extremely unhealthy and overweight; so he decides to do nothing but juice for 60 days.  I don’t want to spoil the movie, but the outcome is definitely not a negative one.

His efforts inspired me to try juicing too, and I came up with this:

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My recipe for one pitcher includes the following, all put through my trusty juicer. At least:

4 cucumbers

1 Bunch of Kale

8 handfuls of spinach leaves

6 large carrots

2 lemons

2 limes

3 apples

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger

1 bunch of celery

The spinach and kale don’t seem to create much juice which can be frustrating, but you must juice them for the nutrients. Otherwise, you won’t get everything you need from the juice.

I don’t have the will-power to go on a full out juice fast, so I’ve been juicing for breakfast and lunch and then eating a healthy dinner.  Personally, I like the juice a lot, but some of my family hates it!  I promise, try it for a while and you will feel stronger and learn to love it!

Juice Away!

Gotta Start Somewhere

I am going to start of my blog with a list of long term and short term health goals for myself, so here goes nothing:

1. Run the Wissahickon Trail Run 10K on June 2nd, my first trail race ever! (I’ll be blogging about my journey to this goal for sure)

2. Get down to my goal weight by July 14th (my beach trip!) so I can eat whatever the hell I want while I’m there. Not everyone can eat perfectly all the time, and sometimes even the most healthy people need a vacation!

3. Run the Pittsburgh Marathon in April of 2013

4. Become a Registered Dietician and help kids learn to eat healthy for the rest of their lives

These are the biggest goals you will hear about are these three big ones, and I’m sure many more will develop along my journey to the last one.