Archive for January, 2013

For many years, my New Year’s resolution was to exercise at least four days a week (now it’s six). I kept track on a paper calendar (you remember paper calendars from the BG and BBB days — Before Google and Before BlackBerry?) I’d cross off each day that I exercised for at least 20 minutes, although the goal was 30 or more. If I only exercised three days one week, that was okay, because I could shoot for five the next. There was no throwing up of hands, oh well, I didn’t make it four days this week, I couldn’t keep my New Year’s resolution again this year. I was kind to myself (and as a certified perfectionist, I’m not often kind to myself. Like right now I’m berating myself: why do you use so many parentheticals in your writing? (That is not a good thing)).

Anyway, if you are struggling to keep up with your New Year’s resolutions, or have already thrown in the towel, I want you to be kind to yourself and rededicate yourself to your resolutions. Do you want to know my trick for doing that? It’s super easy and effective.

Talk to yourself like you would talk to a good friend.

Would you say to a good friend, “I can’t believe you didn’t exercise today!” or “You’re only down two pounds instead of four. You might as well give up because you’re never going to meet your goal.” Of course not! But for some reason, we are harder on ourselves than we are on our friends. Why?? We deserve to be treated with the same kindness.

For example, if you were training for a race and you missed a week of training for whatever reason, you might beat yourself up mentally over it. You might even be worried you could not meet the race distance and should give up on the race. If a friend missed a week of training, you would not say a single negative thing. You would give her a supportive pep talk. “I know it’s hard when you get off track for a week, but you can do it! Don’t give up now! I am proud of you!” You’d help her figure out how to adjust her workouts to resume her training plan.

Don’t give in to your own stinkin’ thinkin’ (that’s a Crazy Sexy Cancermovie reference) (and there’s another parenthetical, but I choose to forgive myself for that). Treat yourself with kindness. Treat yourself as you would treat others.

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On January 7, 2012, Sherry Arnold went out for a run at 6:30 a.m. and never came home. The 43-year-old mother of two had been abducted and killed. Her death rattled the running community, and reminded us all to make our personal safety the most important thing on every run.

In a show of unity and support, approximately 33,000 runners participated in the 1st Annual Virtual Run for Sherry organized by her cousin Beth last February. This year, the second annual event will take place on February 9, 2013. You can learn more about Sherry, the virtual run, and how to print out a race bib on Beth’s blog Shut Up + Run.

For me, marathon training begins on February 2nd, and I’ve got a 13-mile run on the training schedule for February 9. I’ve already printed out my bib and pinned it onto my top:

Virtual Run for Sherry race bib

What about you? Will you participate in the run for Sherry?

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Do you know that MapMyRun logs all kinds of physical activity and that includes housework? (It even logs the indoor sport “intimacy” but there’s no way in heck I’m recording that!) So when I cleaned house for nine hours on Friday to get ready for a surprise party for my husband’s 42nd birthday, I burned over 1,500 calories. When I cleaned for another two hours on Sunday morning to get ready for the kids’ book club discussion (Wonder
— awesome book!), I burned another 340 calories. It’s no wonder (ha ha) that when it came time for me to get in a “real” workout on Sunday afternoon, I was pretty pooped already. I simply did not want go out for a run. I knew I’d feel better if I went, so I laced up my shoes and got going. Mind over body. It’s a powerful thing. But I spent the entire run coming up with a bonus points system for runners.

You get 75 points for going for a run, any run, any distance, any amount of time. If you ran today, you’re a super star. But you get extra points for the following:

+10 for running when you really really just did not feel like running but you did anyway
+1 for every mile you ran (round up to the nearest mile!) (or +1 for every 10 minutes you ran, whichever is greater)
+1 for getting up with an alarm to run
+1 if you didn’t even press snooze when your alarm went off
+5 if you set your gear out the night before
+1 if your gear was clean (washed and dried)
+2 if you had no clean gear and threw on smelly clothes because you are just that dedicated to running (and willing to prioritize it over, you know, doing laundry instead)
+1 if you ran before 8 a.m.
+1 if you ran at lunchtime
+2 if you ran after 5 p.m. (guess who loves a morning run?)
+1 more if you ran after dark and took proper safety precautions (minus 80 million if you didn’t wear reflective gear, didn’t run with a light, and/or didn’t run in a safe location, preferably with a partner)
+1 if you had to pay someone to watch your child(ren) while you ran
+2 if you had a child run or ride his bike next to you
+10 if you pushed any children in a jogger
+5 for the lady runner who carried any children in her womb! (Yes, I give mad props to the pregnant runner, but I gotta give more points to the runner who pushed the jogger plus any child who can vocalize his protest at going for a run)
+2 if the temperature on your outdoor run was above 80 degrees
+3 if the temperature on your outdoor run was below 50 degrees (yes, I think that’s cold)
+5 if the temperature was below freezing
+5 if you got rained on
+2 if you ran on a treadmill (make that +3 if the treadmill didn’t have a television screen or iPod dock)
+5 if you didn’t poop your pants or puke
+/- 3 points (I can’t decide) if you pooped beside the trail or behind a neighborhood bush — anywhere besides a bathroom or porta potty
+5 if you had a head cold (minus points if you had a fever or chest congestion or flu and you ran anyway)
+1 if you said hello, waved, or gave a thumbs-up to anyone along the way (minus points if you used any finger other than your thumb)
+1 for every piece of trash you picked up on your cool-down walk (am I the only person who does this? I hope not).

What else would you add? How many points did you get on your latest run? I earned 100 points for yesterday’s 5.75-mile, hard-fought I-didn’t-wanna run through the hills.

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Making your own trail mix could not be easier or more forgiving (have fun with the ingredient choices and portions below to make it to your liking)! I threw some together for a preschool class snack and it took less than five minutes and, best of all, I could prepare it the night before and not have to fuss with it in the morning before school.

Serve it in Dixie cups for a kid-friendly snack or pack it bags for the trail.

Serve it in Dixie cups for a kid-friendly snack or pack it bags for the trail.

Homemade Trail Mix


1 large container of organic raisins
1 small packet of organic dried cranberries (or other dried fruit of your liking — chopped apricots, pineapple, mango or dates would be good)
1 tub of salted or unsalted peanuts
1 tub of salted or unsalted sunflower seeds (or pepitas, almonds or cashews)
2 cups or more of dark chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, carob chips or M&Ms

2 cups or more of plain stove-popped popcorn


Pour all the ingredients into a bowl and stir them together. Package into serving sizes or serve in the bowl.

This homemade trail mix is high in calories (which is what you want in a trail mix, right?) but if you want to reduce the calories for a healthier snack, add in the plain stove-popped popcorn and that cuts the calories per serving significantly.

Survey: Do you call it trail mix or GORP (“Good Old Raisins and Peanuts”)? I called it GORP as a kid but I’d forgotten all about that!

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If you’re looking for a pretty side dish for brunch, a fun preschool snack, or something for the kids after school, try these simple pear cups with cheese cubes!

Breakfast on the patio, anyone?

Breakfast on the patio, anyone?

Pear Cups with Cheese Cubes

1 organic pear per two people (Tip: if your pears are not quite ripe, put them in a paper bag with a banana overnight and the ethylene gas will help ripen the pears)
blocks of cheddar cheese and colby jack cheese (or substitute your favorite hard cheese, or this would even work well with Brie or cottage cheese too. If you use Brie, spoon a little honey mustard on top and the combination will taste like heaven and look pretty too!)


Preparation Time:
5 minutes for each set of two pair halves (Note: try to prepare these cups just before serving. I made mine about an hour before serving and that was fine, but any longer and the pear will brown and the cheese might get soggy from the pear juice).


Rinse and dry the pear. Slice it in half vertically (from stem to bottom). Cut out the core and a little bit extra in the center to create a pear “cup.”

The pear cup, ready for cheese cubes.

The pear cup, ready for cheese cubes.

Cut up the cheese blocks into small cubes and arrange the cubes inside the pear cups, piling the cheese as high as possible. Serve ASAP but you can refrigerate them for an hour or so before serving if desired. You can either eat the cheese and the cups separately, or enjoy them together for a tasty treat!

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Play along with me and let me believe that you actually were wondering about the answers to the following questions and that you appreciate this Friday Follow-up.

1. Hey Angela, how did you do on those Before the End of the Year Resolutions? Did you clean out the linen cabinets like you said you would? Why yes I did, thank you for asking!

Dear IRS, This photo constitutes evidence of my sizable charitable donation. Too bad I didn't get it in before the end of the 2012 tax year.

Dear IRS: This photo constitutes evidence of my sizable charitable donation.

Mike and I took a few hours to conquer the cabinets together. We did do it before the end of the year, however we were not quite organized enough to then get the bags donated to charity before the end of the year. I think my 2012 tax return wept a little at that mistake.

Tip: When you organize your linens (once every billion years like I do), organize the bed linen sets by putting the folded top sheet and fitted sheet inside the matching pillowcase. That way it’s super easy to grab a new set of sheets when it’s time to change the bed linens (once every quarter-billion years like I do).

2. How are the posterior shin splints on the left leg and the strained adductor magnus on the right upper back thigh butt crease thingamabob? Much better, thanks! The shin splints are history and the adductor magnus has gone from screaming at me to whimpering occasionally. I credit the improvement to stretching the calf muscles, running in moderation, and massaging the sore spots.

3. So if you’re not injured anymore, are you training for the Mountains to Beach Marathon yet? I got an email from the M2B people the other day that said “19 days until marathon training begins” and my heart leapt into my throat! I knew it was coming of course, but my training plan does not officially start until February 3. It’s a 16-week plan from Run Less, Run Faster and right now it’s week 19. It’s been hard to know what to do in this down time. I’ve focused on healing from the injuries and easing back into speed work and long runs and I will be ready to start the plan when the time comes.

4. So here’s what I really want to know but am too embarrassed to ask…. Do you actually like the Instead Softcup feminine protection product or did you just say that because the company sponsored your first marathon? After several cycles I can say I still like it! I love it! I simply love the ability to, um, “fix it and forget it” (as the crockpot recipe people would say) — I love that the product can be worn for 12 hours at a time. I’m not going back to any other method.

5. Speaking of products, how do you like that Costco women’s running jacket you bought the other day? Another winner! The “mittens” are the best. I’ve worn the jacket for two cold weather runs and it’s great to be able to tuck my hands inside the covers until they start to roast, and then let them out when I want them to cool off. The thumb-holes are a good compromise too. The only thing that confused me on the jacket for a minute is that it has two zippers, one that zips the jacket up, and one that lets you leave the top of the jacket zipped up while you unzip the bottom of the jacket. I am assuming this feature is there to allow you to put your fuel belt on underneath the jacket and still access it. Or maybe people get hot on their bellies? Not me! Take a look at these photos of my cold rash from recent runs. Perhaps I need to add yet another layer to my top and bottom?

That's mah belleh! Still working on that six pack....

That’s mah belleh! Still working on that six pack….

Is it wrong to post this next one?

Do not adjust your screen. That is not a ham hock. That is a cold rash on what my kids and I call my buttoxes.

Do not adjust your screen. That is not a ham hock. That is a cold rash on what my kids and I call my hip and “buttoxes.”

The cold rash went away in about 15 minutes. In the meantime we enjoyed playing that game where you try to decide what the shape looks like. I think it looks like a bat spread its wings and flew into me at full speed.

Do you ever get a cold rash? Have I answered all your burning questions? Ask away in the comments.

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Last Saturday night my husband and I planned our day for Sunday. We’d have a quiet morning as a family at home, Mike would take one of the girls to go play tennis at 11, then we’d all go for a family bike ride after lunch, and finally just Mike and I would go out for a long bike ride at 3:30 when Grandma came over to babysit. It sounded like a great plan, and it was, right up until 1:30 p.m. on Sunday when we found out that Grandma couldn’t come over until after dark, effectively tanking the bike ride plan. We tried to find another babysitter on short notice but even the girl across the street couldn’t make it! On to plan B: bike at the gym? But by the time we learned the long bike ride would not work, the gym was closed. Why does the gym close early on a Sunday?! (“Because of God.” Name that movie! It’s one of my all-time favorites.) Plan C: swim at the outdoor community pool? The lap swim hours at the pool were over. It seemed like our plan to get in a workout, any kind of workout, was doomed.

When 5 p.m. rolled around and Grandma arrived, I was not much in the mood to exercise anymore. I’m a morning workout kind of gal, and I’m also a planner, and gosh darn it someone threw a monkey wrench in plans A, B, and C. Can I just say then, that I’m super proud of the fact that we got in a workout after all? Mike and I suited up in our warmest running clothes (including my new Costco jacket), hats and headlamps (also from Costco — 3 for $9.99 — but I can’t exactly recommend them because the first one we took out of the packaging broke when we tried to put batteries in and you know, actually use it).

All the stylish kids wear their headlamps over their hats and their fuel belts under their jackets for the best bulky look.

All the stylish kids wear their headlamps over their hats and their fuel belts under their jackets for the best bulky look.

I don’t know if you can tell but I was positively shivering when that photo was taken. I was eager to get running so I could generate some body heat! Soon enough we were off into the darkness and it felt great to be out there. I get so bored running the same route over and over again but running that same route in the dark was all new and fun! It didn’t hurt that I had a charming running partner too. We run well together. He secretly gloats over the fact that he’s faster than I am and I secretly gloat over the fact that I can run 17 more miles than the longest run he’s ever done. (Can you tell we’ve been married for 18 years? Together for 24? Yes, we were high school sweethearts! We know each other so well by now.)

We ran four hilly miles and were rewarded with this view out to the Pacific Ocean:

Sunset over Orange County

Best of all we snuck back inside the house after the run, took a quick shower, and got right back out again for dinner, just the two of us. It turned out to be a great date night, including the unplanned night run!

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You know that moment when the hair stands up on the back of your neck and you just know something is wrong with the situation you’re in? It happened to me on a recent long run. I had no reason to believe I was running at an unsafe hour or location. But I had a simple flash of fear, a recognition of the possibility of being in danger. The moment passed and I ran on in safety, but I’ve taken the incident to heart as a sobering reminder that personal safety needs to be the top priority on every run.

Warning bells were going off in my head. Photo credit: Michael & Christa Richert

Warning bells were going off in my head. Photo credit: Michael & Christa Richert

The Signs of Danger, as I Observed Them

1. The van cruised the street near me at 10 miles per hour in a 25 mile per hour zone.
2. The nondescript white van had no business markings on it, meaning that the driver had no “business” in the area.
3. The van had no side windows, except for the driver’s window.
4. The driver’s window was rolled down in spite of the fact that the outside temperature was in the 40s.
5. The driver was wearing a black hoodie with the hood up.
6. The van paused too long at the stop sign as I ran by on the other side of the street.
7. The van slowly continued down the street next to me.
8. The van lingered at the next intersection as if the driver was waiting to see which way I would go (I was planning on going straight and made no indication that I wanted to cross the street. There was no stop sign at that intersection. There was no reason for the driver to slow).

In that instant, my Spidey-sense was on high alert. I looked at the driver so that he knew that I saw him, I picked up my pace, and I made a sudden turn to the left, preparing myself to run to the nearest home and ring the doorbell if the man in the van followed me. At that point, the man appeared to make a decision and he turned away in the other direction.

I don’t care whether anyone thinks I was being overly dramatic or paranoid. My only concern is for my personal safety. That man was not looking for a street address. That man was not looking for a lost dog. That man was looking for trouble.

I was prepared to scream at him to go away. I was prepared to pound on doors and ring doorbells. I was prepared to call 9-1-1 on my cell phone. If I hadn’t been concerned for my immediate safety, I would have stopped and used to my phone to take a picture of the man and the vehicle. I would have had no qualms about calling the local police and asking them to drive by in search of the van. Instead though, I ensured my safety, and the whole “incident” was over in seconds.

It’s a sad reminder to us all. Keep your wits about you. Look alert. Trust your instincts. Be prepared to take evasive action. Don’t be afraid to do what it takes to stay safe.

The good news is that I finished my run safely on a busy street and a public track. And in spite of that unsettling incident, I put in 11.5 glorious miles at a 9:43 pace and it was the best run I’ve had in two months.

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Just a quick Saturday shopping shout-out to Sheila, a/k/a Striding Mom, to thank her for telling me and all her other grateful readers to run not walk to our local Costco to grab one of these Kirkland Signature athletic jackets for $24.99:

No I do not run in my best pair of designer jeans (Hudson) and yes I do wear my Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12 to shop at Costco.

No I do not run in my best pair of designer jeans (Hudson) and yes I do wear my Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12 to shop at Costco.

I chose the lovely indigo color but it comes in black, pink, and a lighter blue if I remember correctly. It’s 87% Nylon and 13% Spandex, machine wash cold and tumble dry low. It’s got reflective trim on the back and cuffs for night visibility, zippered front pockets plus a “zippered arm pocket with media cord management” (not that I have a media player to put in there although maybe now Mike will let me borrow his iPod since I have a secure place to carry it), and best of all, it’s got extra-long sleeves with thumb holes and, wait for it, hand cuffs that flip out to make handcover “mittens.”

Watch out cold, I'm coming for you.

Watch out cold, I’m coming for you.

I totally wish I had had this last weekend when the forecast said the temperature was in the high 40s but the frost on the clovers told a different story:

Frost on the clovers

I froze for eight frosty miles, cursing my lack of running gloves the whole way. I’d say $24.99 plus outrageous California sales tax is worth every penny to have “mittens” at the ready on winter long runs. Happy Saturday everyone! I hope your Costco carries this little gem and you are as happy as I am to find it.

P.S. This marks my 100th post here on Fit Fun Mom! Thank you for sharing in my excitement and love of running and all things fitness-related!

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Monday meant back to school for my kiddos and that meant back to “work” for me. Three or four weeks per year I bring the snack for the preschool class. What compelled me to be on the list for the week after winter break I don’t know. Thank goodness I put it on my calendar and remembered! I even researched a healthy, fun snack that was inexpensive and easy to prepare. It turned out so cute I’m thinking of serving it for the next kids’ book club meeting for my 2nd and 5th grader and the rest of the moms.

Cucumber Cups with Ranch Dressing and Carrots for Dipping

Ingredients for 30 cucumber cups, 2 each for 15 people:
5 large organic cucumbers (you want to leave the skins on)
1 large bag of at least 60 organic baby carrots (you could use regular, peeled and cut carrot sticks)
1 bottle of organic or homemade ranch dressing

melon baller or similar scooper

Prep time:
20 minutes

Rinse and scrub the cucumbers. Slice off the ends of the cucumbers. Cut them into 2-inch sections, about 6 sections per cucumber depending on the size. Use a melon baller to scoop out the center of each section, creating a “cup” for the ranch dressing. Reserve the scooped-out cucumber to use in a salad or cucumber soup.

Step one: cut a two-inch section of cucumber and scoop out the center, leaving a cucumber "cup."

Step one: cut a two-inch section of cucumber and scoop out the center, leaving a cucumber “cup.”

Into each cucumber “cup,” pour a small amount of ranch dressing and add two baby carrots or carrot sticks.

These fun dipping cups end up looking like rabbit ears or sushi.

These fun dipping cups ended up looking like rabbit ears or sushi.

I knew I had a hit on my hands when my 8- and 10-year-olds wanted to help me make — and EAT — these before school. The preschool kids loved them too. When I asked my 4-year-old if the class liked them, she said they loved them. “Everyone ate 2, or 3, or 4, or 5! I had the most!”

If you’re looking for other healthy snack ideas, check out:

Ants on a Log
Four Fun Pirate-Themed Snacks

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