A Gorge good time : running, clean-eating (and wine ;) included

Outdoor fun, good food, music and friends – another fabulous Labor Day weekend at the Gorge is in the books!

I live in a hilly neighborhood and got in several runs before my trip, so at least I was somewhat prepared for my traditional hike/run down the Gorge to the Columbia River and back up. The trail starts along one of the roads at Cave B Winery & Inn, where I have the pleasure of staying for the long weekend. A “Caution: Beware of Snakes” sign greets you at the head of the trail. An acquaintance passed me going the opposite direction after I made it down the steepest part and through a patch of sage grass. She said she and her friend had just seen a rattle snake and she could hear other rattlers nearby. I ran till I reached a mile, and as the brush got deeper and trail rockier, I decided to turn around and head back up to our little slice of civilized life in this wild west domain.

photoI was sad to see the water level of the Columbia River down so much from last year. Still, the grand landscape and majestic beauty of the Gorge and Cave B were just as captivating as always.

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cavebwaterOn Friday, Saturday and Sunday I spent my evenings next door at the Gorge Amphitheater, where it was all happening, even dinner. I made a stop at Whole Foods in Seattle on Friday before my trek through the mountains up to the high desert. I got almond milk for my Arbonne protein powder shakes (yes, of course I travel with my pea protein! :)), fruit and other healthy snacks for the daytime. Dega Rock ‘n’ Roll Catering prepares homemade meals every show day for bands and their crew. They get there before anybody, scout local food sources and obtain the finest ingredients to create the most bountiful, healthy meals for the hardworking folks. I’m amazed at what Chef Fiona and her team come up with each time. And the catering spaces are even decorated for a nice, homey feel. I’m lucky to partake in the meals – primarily dinner.

gorge3menuThere’s always a meat, fish and vegetarian choice plus delicious sides and first-course options, such as soup or salad. It is definitely not difficult to follow my clean-eating habits with a Dega buffet before me!

I thought this was really neat … They post the local farms they work with to obtain fresh produce and meat.
degafarmsAnd they do this in every area the bands they work for are traveling. Talk about supporting the farm-to-table movement! I talked briefly to Chef Fiona, telling her how impressed I was that she cooks such magnificent dishes for so many people. She said, “It’s really not that much harder than cooking at home. You just have to make more.” What an inspiration! Next time I don’t feel like cooking, I’ll keep her and her traveling kitchen in mind 😉

Monday was an off day. With no show, that meant no schedule or time constraints. Jerry and I had fun exploring Cave B. I had never been to the winery and tasting bar, so we played tourist for the afternoon.

cavebfunWalking under those vines (top left photo) was so refreshing! The sweet smell of grapes, the breeze, that view … oh, and picking a few white grapes for the tasting. Turns out the rose wine is my favorite. It’s not too sweet but dry and crisp – perfect for a warm, sunny day.

That night, we were invited to a special dinner in Cave B’s Tendrils restaurant. I was in the company of some of the most interesting, kind people I’ve ever met.

cavebmenuI chose the grass-fed beef and king crab combo as my main course. There are no words to describe how fabulous all of these items tasted!

I’m so grateful for these genuine times of adventure, good food and friendship. I always learn something new about myself and others in this world we share. You know, those moments that make us smile and those awkward moments that connect us as humans – all the things that make life worth living.

 

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On the road again

The title of this post might have you humming the Willie Nelson song, dreaming of a road trip. While I love a good road trip, I’m talking about road running here. It’s been a while … okay, according to my Garmin, it had been nearly two months … since I’ve woken up, laced up my running shoes and hit the streets for a morning run.

I’m sorry to admit that my running had been sporadic even two months ago. I’d maybe go once a week. The past two weeks I’ve stepped into an old habit. And it feels good. I’m not running long distances (no more than 3 miles) and that’s okay. Maybe the pressure I put on myself to run at least 4-6 miles on each run is what pulled me from one of my favorite hobbies because running that much didn’t interest me at the moment. I’ve realized running even 1 mile is worth so much. In these hot, humid (so very humid!) August days it doesn’t take long for me to work up a good sweat. I had forgotten how good it feels to start the day with a run. The endorphins, the morning dew, birds chirping, sun rising – all that corny stuff – feel good. And to think fall is just around the corner – my favorite season to run outside.

I’ll be spending Labor Day weekend at the high-desert utopia that is the Gorge. I plan on taking my yoga practice to new heights and going on a run down to the Columbia River. Ooh, that means I’ll have to come back up! Good thing I’m used to hills in my hometown!

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Happy holiday weekend, everyone!

 

Clarity of mind & body

From the time we enter this world, women are inundated with images – on TV, in the movies, in magazines – of what the ideal female body should look like. We hear our moms talk about dieting and see them trying the latest exercise trend. Then we get older, our bodies start changing, we start having the thoughts “am I fat? will this make me fat?” and we become each other’s worst critics. Nearly every women’s magazine has some sort of weight loss tip on its cover. We compare ourselves to supermodels, celebrities and athletes. We obsessively count calories, even if where those calories come from isn’t a priority. We judge people by how big they are on the outside rather than how delightful they may be on the inside.

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I’ve seen those dear to me suffer from eating disorders. I’ve had my own self-deprecating thoughts about my body. I’m guilty of exercising to compensate for an indulgence, eating a Nutri-grain bar and apple for lunch in junior high because I was afraid of becoming overweight, and frankly, just being too hard on myself as I tried to live up to societal standards.

For about two months now, I’m proud to say I haven’t had many (if at all) self-deprecating thoughts about my body. I haven’t felt the need to over-exercise to compensate for my diet. I haven’t found myself comparing my body to ones I know aren’t realistically attainable for me. I’m tall with long limbs. I can’t help genetics. I run but don’t win every race. I practice yoga but am limited in my twisting, back-bending and flexibility. I stand tall because I can. I keep practicing running and yoga because I can. I may never be the fastest or you may never see my picture on a yoga site displaying some advanced pose. That’s okay.

What you will see is someone comfortable in the freedom she has from making eating & exercise choices right for her. People do the 28-day clean eating challenge for different reasons. I entered the journey because I physically wasn’t feeling good. I was tired of my stomach hurting, feeling gut heavy and bloated after I ate. I was tired of that awful crash feeling when I became hungry.

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When I first was into the clean eating challenge, a dear friend expressed concern about it leading to an eating disorder. A valid, solid point, she made. I can see how following an eating plan might lead down that unhealthy slippery slope. I keep that in mind constantly and check in with myself to make sure whatever choice I’m making is for the right reason and not some superficial, shallow standard.

Fad diets and those that use harmful chemicals in their products and food make me crazy. They don’t address real health issues. They appeal to women’s insecurities about being skinny. They condone the unhealthy culture that teaches it doesn’t matter what you put in your body. All that matters is whether it will make you thin. For a time, maybe. Who cares about long-term health?

There has been a lot of talk recently about gluten – it’s a made-up problem, it’s just a trend, there’s no scientific evidence that such a thing as gluten intolerance exists … celiac’s disease, yes, but gluten intolerance, no. Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley & rye and lots of other items, is one of the substances you eliminate during the 28-day challenge that I support. Along with dairy, soy, whey and artificial sweeteners. These substances have been known to slow digestion and elimination as well as contribute to other uncomfortable bodily situations. I’m not claiming to be an expert. All I can tell you is by eliminating those things, I was able to restore my digestive functions, my scalp & skin conditions improved, groggy feelings disappeared, bloating after eating became non-existent and I noticed my thought process became clearer as well as my writing (which is a plus since that’s what I get paid to do for a living!). And best of all, because of the support + suggested recipes I received, I NEVER felt deprived. Food actually tasted better. I still follow the eating plan for the most part, and when I do have processed food, it doesn’t even taste good to me anymore.

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If you’re considering the challenge for weight loss, I share my mom’s story. My mom, who has become overweight for her small 5’4″ frame, recently completed the challenge. She lost 9 pounds over the four weeks. She called me yesterday happily surprised that she was down another 6 pounds, which means that during the week after the challenge was over she lost that additional weight. Mom is smart. She’s a math professor by trade and is an avid reader of all things. One area she keeps up with is the medical and health world. She pointed out she knows she will continue to lose weight because she eliminated toxins during the 28 days. And when you eliminate toxins, inflammation, excess weight and fat can dissipate.

In case this is your first time tuning in, the 28-day clean eating/detox program I tout uses Arbonne pure, safe & beneficial products + support from Arbonne real, genuine people like me ;). The Arbonne program is in line with Dr. Oz’s clean detox program.

Several friends have expressed something like this to me over the years: “I just don’t understand. I’ve been exercising and eating healthy. I just can’t lose weight.” I share with them and you the 411 on weight loss:

How and when weight loss occurs varies for each person. Everyone comes into the detox with a different level of toxicity, a different genetic history, and different hormonal patterns. For many, the body will not begin to reduce inflammation and release extra weight until it has found balance through the cleansing process. 

Excess weight is often a result of consuming foods that do not work for the body, resulting in poor digestion and toxic overload. Detox helps the body re-balance itself and help repair the damage done by years of poor habits. When you lose weight without doing this important foundational work, the weight loss typically doesn’t last. It also doesn’t bring about the increased vitality, that in the end is what we really want.

How you feel is a more accurate measure of success. Instead of numbers on the scale, focus on your energy level, sleep patterns, digestion, elimination, mood and clarity of thought. And that’s what it’s all about.

I have found I love inspiring others to find their gut bliss, happy place. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you’re interested or have more questions about this life-changing challenge. As one of my “bootcampers” said, “The stewing is a lot harder than the doing.”

Happy living!

 

Levitating

Now that I’ve got this planning for dinner/cooking thing down (well, at least better than I did a month ago 😉 ), I am getting back to my regular yoga/exercise schedule.

I hadn’t been to From the Ground Up – a Tuesday night workshop-style class that focus on arm balances and inversions – since before the Arbonne 28-day cleaning/detox challenge. Busy work schedule + giving more thought to my dinners than ever resulted in some sacrifices.

I was debating run or yoga this evening. I had hoped to do both, but ran out of time – no pun intended.

I had one of those AHA! moments in yoga and am glad I opted for the mat instead of the pavement. The west studio is so peaceful. Located just a little way outside the city hustle surrounded by horses and fields, it’s a nice retreat from everyday life.

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David, the instructor, asked us what we wanted to work on. Someone said crow pose. I was thinking the same thing and eagerly nodded. I also suggested hurdler’s pose. Looks something like this:

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We warmed up our wrists with some stretching/rolling/bending exercises, then our core and our legs. We worked on crow probably about 15 times, each at our own pace. The neat thing about this class is unlike a vinyasa class where you keep moving and then maybe lead up to an arm balance toward the end, this class nearly spends the entire hour on the chosen pose. After holding crow longer than I ever have (yay!), David talked us through the steps toward hurdler’s pose.

I felt fearful and embarrassed for even bringing it up, worried that I’d fall on my face. All day I’ve kept at heart a photo Breezy (yoga studio owner and Arbonne leader) tagged me in earlier in the day.

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Do something every day that scares you. This was it. I pointed my toes to help strengthen my legs and booty as much as possible, kept my shoulders closed, my elbows in like you would in chataranga, my tummy muscles tight – all while breathing! After a few, okay maybe six, tries, I was suspended in the air! “Way to go, champ,” is what I heard on my second successful try, which was on the OTHER side. Sometimes I’m able to get into a pose on one side but not so much on the other. Bodies are funny like that. Tonight I was balanced, strong and ready. Ready to face my fear of looking funny, falling or failing. The beauty of yoga is you never fail. You do what you do in that given moment. Nothing more, nothing less. The important thing is “whatever you did, you did it,” as Breezy always says.

Next time, I’ll have to catch this pose on camera for proof.

Namaste 🙂

Renewed running

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I had planned on yoga this pleasant evening. I opted instead to lace up my running shoes first and then practice a little post-run yoga. The outside temp was a bit chilly, just how I like my runs. I love running through my neighborhood (originally my grandparents’ neighborhood where they raised my mom and aunt) during the spring. Dogwood trees blooming, the scent of freshly cut grass and tulips galore. Usually when I hit the pavement during these post-Daylight Savings days, the streets are quieter. Everyone is tucked away in their homes as I enjoy my run just before the sun fades into the western sky.

This jaunt was my first since beginning the Arbonne 28-day clean eating/detox challenge a week and a half ago. Wow. My energy level was higher than it’s been since my giddy days of running when I was training for my first half-marathon. I could have kept going and going. Over the past six months to a year, I’ve dreaded running. My mind would race with thoughts as I would heavily put one foot in front of the other. It just wasn’t the peaceful outlet that it once was. Something was off. I had been trying to keep a steady running schedule, but it was failing.

As we commemorate the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, nostalgic memories of this beloved sport have been emerging. My pace is slowly coming back. This is only Week 2 of focusing on my full health, INSIDE and out. I can only imagine where I’ll be at Week 4.

 

Rustling leaves

Yes, that’s right. Although, it’s winter, and goodness we’ve had our share of frigid temps and wintry conditions, today I enjoyed the rustling sound of the brown leaves that didn’t fall with their fellow leaves.

I had signed up for the 3 p.m. BarreAmped class today at my nearby fitness boutique, Zenspin. I caught up on some house chores yesterday and never made it outside for my weekend run. Plus it was really windy yesterday, so I wasn’t bothered by missing a run. Today was different. It wasn’t too windy. The sun was beaming. Perfect day for a run, but I wanted to still get in my barre class.

I opted for both. (My legs will be talking to me tomorrow, I can already tell.) I was a little hungry, and I’d need a water bottle. I ran around my ‘hood about 2 miles, stopped at Kroger, which is right across the street from Zenspin, got a Kind protein bar and a big bottle of water. I had about 15 minutes to spare, so I enjoyed still listening to my running music, while I walked around the block munching on my bar.

I got in a few post-running stretches before the class began. Woo! My quads screamed at me, and I sweated even more since my body was good and warm after my little run. The walk home was much slower than when I headed out. I kept my earbuds in my pocket, sipped my water and enjoyed the Sunday afternoon sounds – baseballs being caught in gloves, kids pedaling fast on their bikes, birds chirping and leaves rustling.

Fitness, a little vitamin D and fresh air. A good Sunday afternoon, if you ask me.

“Hot as a pepper sprout”

I heard that quote at a recent running event I participated in. It was the Jalapeno Half Marathon (only I did the 5K), and boy was it HOT.

I had been sick with a cold earlier that week and was tired from house projects and a recent road trip. Work had been emotionally draining as well. In short, I just felt like holing up in my house that weekend and turning off the world. But it was my uncle’s 60th birthday celebration, and I love him and wanted to celebrate properly.

I drove in to Dallas late Friday after work, only to catch 5 hours of sleep before it was rise and shine time. My aunt brought me coffee at 5 a.m., and I was very grateful for the kind gesture.

Harold was prepared for the half marathon, and Lue and I were getting psyched for the 5K. Who cared if the outside temp was pushing 100 degrees that day? Ha. We did, but we didn’t let it stop our birthday enthusiasm. Hats, streamers and all.

I went into the race with the expectation of just having fun, taking it easy. My competitive drive pushed into full gear at “GO!” time. I should have known better. I raced my little heart out as I always do. I realized at my first race years ago that I have quite the competitive edge when running and computerized timing devices are involved. It never fails. When I cross a start line with other feet at my side, I give the race all my energy.

There was technical difficulty at the race for the 5K results, so I didn’t know how I placed (although I had a good feeling it was something noteworthy) until a few days after. My chip time was 23:41. Holy running woman! That’s a personal record for me! That’s a 7:38 minute/mile pace, and I placed third in my age division. Kudos to the first- and second-place finishers! I guess heat does my body good. It must be all that hot yoga I’ve been doing. 😉

And my uncle deserves a huge shoutout! He placed second in his age division for the half marathon!

Those post-race beers were definitely deserved. For him, at least. 🙂

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Boston

I came across this beautiful expression of one runner’s experience at last week’s Boston Marathon and encourage you to read it as well … Boston.

I cry every time I see stories about the marathon runners on the news. I’ve tried to explain that feeling of approaching the finish line (which starts months before race day) to my non-runner family and friends. Words don’t suffice to describe that feeling where a thousand feelings — happiness, exhaustion, elation, and on and on — become one. I nearly cry and sometimes do, not out of sadness, every time I approach a finish line because of that overwhelming feeling. I can’t imagine what it was like at Boston’s finish or sidelines or to hear the blasts in the medal line as a volunteer happily placed a medal around my neck

Blogger Running Sunflower is right. The bombers didn’t know who they were messing with when they struck terror on the Boston Marathon.

She writes …

“Runners are also tough, and resilient. When we train for marathons, we put in months of work. We voluntarily put our bodies, minds and spirits through tests of sometimes-nightmarish rigor. We have bad runs and get over them. We have injuries and get over them. We soil ourselves in every way imaginable, and see others doing the same, and we get over it. We share water, food, toilet paper, elation, and despair. We keep on running. And the Boston Marathon? It’s been around for 117 YEARS. That is commitment. That is resilience.”

I haven’t been running as much in the past couple of months, but it’s still a part of who I am. The other day I happened upon a hiking trail and ran through it to see where it would lead me. It guided me down a ridge with a babbling creek at the bottom flanked by trees and forest creatures. I had a smile on my face almost the whole time (save for the uphill runs ;))

Stepdad Chris was walking behind me. I had stop and have him capture my happiness at discovering this new trail.

Stepdad Chris was walking behind me. I had to stop and have him capture my happiness at discovering this new trail.

I’m inspired by the running community in my city. It’s one of unprecedented love and support, and fun, of course! I’ve been seeing posts by our very own elite runner Leah Thorvilson, who is recovering from surgery. She’s on crutches and has been walking/hobbling a mile a day in honor of Boston. Through yoga and mutual friends, I’m thankful to call her a friend. She is the epitome of this runner spirit that Running Sunflower describes in her blog post. Determination, inspiration and hope can never be destroyed, no matter the size of the bomb.