Trail running {}

My short trail race last weekend was a success and I loved it. Being new to running on trails, I thought I’d share some lessons learned, and please add any others I haven’t discovered yet!

1. Bring your own water.

This 7–mile race had only one water stop passed mile 5. And, of course, there won’t be any water stops if you just run a trail. Both of my normal routes have water fountains, so I rarely run with a bottle and I don’t have a carrier of any kind. But if I hadn’t run with my own water, I would have really struggled, and I’m glad I dealt with the annoyance of holding it the whole race.

Better yet, use a hydration pack.

2. A trail run is not a nature hike.

On the road or my normal wide gravel trail, I can look around, greet other people, look through the trees and generally take in my surroundings. When on a hike, I can do the same thing.

Not so when running the trail. You’re dealing with uneven ground, roots rocks, divots, drop-offs plus slippery leaves that obscure all of those obstacles. Trail running requires continuous scanning a few steps in front of you and it is certainly not running straight and even like the road. More like, quick step, step, hop, shuffle, step, pivot, long stride, hop, pick your way over the rocks, oh now through water, step, jog-climb up a steep hill, step. The mental work to pay careful attention to the ground is completely different.

3. Your road pace means little on the trail.

Besides the uneven terrain to slow down your pace, hills don’t work the same. Runners love the downhill; it’s time to get some wind in your face and hopefully make up the pace from coming up the hill. Au contraire. You don’t get to fly down hills on the trail. In fact, the downhill is almost harder than uphill. It’s easy to let momentum pull you faster and cause you to trip.

My pace on this 7–mile run was close to two minutes slower than my 13.1 half marathon pace. The expectations are completely different on the trail.

4. You will trip.

I tripped and caught myself at least 5 times. I full–out fell once. Fortunately it was mostly just dirt ground on that section, so I only came up with minor scrapes on my shin.

You will also roll your ankles. That’s just part of running over rocks and such. The key is to stay light on your feet so you can ease through any twists or rolls. Without being careful, I imagine it’s pretty easy to sprain the ankles.

Strong ankles, experience on trail terrain (which I don’t have yet) and supportive shoes make a big difference here.

P.S. I did this run in my Merrell minimal shoes and felt great. The Vibram soles have great grip and flexibility. If (when!) I get into more serious trail running, I’ll want to invest in some Merrell trail shoes, which have thicker soles while maintaining the zero–drop profile.

5. You will get dirty.

You’re going through dust, dirt, mud, water, grass, rocks… even if you don’t fall, you’ll be dirty coming out. Also, think about running in leggings or compression socks – something over your ankles and calves. I was a little worried about poison ivy in some areas.

6. Tired = slow down. Water break = slow down. Locating trail markers = slow down.

You now that feeling when your legs are  lead and don’t seem to go where your mind tells them to? On the street this isn’t a big deal; the only thing you have to trip on is an imaginary speed bump (come on, we all know it happens). On the trail, a misstep could mean a serious fall or injury real fast. When you hit that “come on, feet, do what I tell you!” moment, it’s time to slow down. Walk a few yards, shake out the legs, check your breath, have a drink, then speed up again.

Taking a drink likely requires looking up from the ground. Make sure you’re on fairly even ground, slow down and take a quick drink.

Same deal with markers. My race was marked with pink ribbon on trees. Normal hiking trails are marked with paint on trees or signs. Each of these require looking around to spot them, so slow down – or fully stop if you need to look around a lot.

It’s really easy to miss the markers when running, so please take time to find them. Jon was running with a group who missed markers and took a mile detour before getting back on the race route. ESPECIALLY if you run a trail alone, be careful not to get lost.

7. Run with a friend.

Straightforward here. There is a greater chance of injury or getting lost on a trail run, so try not to run alone. At the very least let someone know the trail you’re on, have your phone with you and even try an app that let’s someone track where you are.Enjoy the rugged outdoors, but be smart too.

So did I love it?

Yes! I mean, come on. Trail running gets you to places like this:

I have plenty to learn. It’s a completely different running experience and so nice to do something new. I’ve said for a while that I think I’ll find my real running love on the trail. If you’re getting bored with your road running habit, challenge yourself on new terrain!


Do you ever run trails?
What other tips would you add?

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sorry-high-metabolism-apology-ecard-someecards {}

Recently I’ve read several articles about metabolism, which prompted me to do some more research, which has resulted in this post. I’ve always thought that I have a slow metabolism – i.e. the complete opposite of my husband and all but one of my four brothers – so I’ll take any help I can get!.

Basic definition of metabolism: A chemical process that converts food into energy or stores it as fat.

This is far too simple. When we talk about metabolism, we’re really talking about two different things.

1. Metabolic type
2. Basal metabolic rate
3. Actually, I should throw in a third: Metabolic efficiency

sorry-high-metabolism-apology-ecard-someecards {}

→ Metabolic types

There are three types of metabolisms with three different carb/protein/fat needs. Just to be clear, everyone cannot have the same success with the same nutrient ratios. So, when you see things like, “to lose fat and gain muscle, eat 60% protein 30% carb and 10% fat,” quickly read the other direction.

Fast oxidizers: ideal ratio is 20% carbs, 50% protein, 30% fat.
Slow oxidizers: ideal ratio is 60% carbs, 25% protein, 15% fat.
Balanced oxidizers: ideal ratio is 40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat.

Jillian Michaels Winning by Losing {}“Metabolic typing is really just fancy talk for figuring out how your body processes what you eat—more specifically, how your body deals with the three basic macronutrients in food: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats,” wrote Jillian Michaels in her book Winning by Losing (Amazon affiliate link). “The fact that we all oxidize the nutrients in our food in different ways is the reason why a particular diet will work for one person and not for another.”

According to Jillian, fast oxidizers burn through nutrients very quickly, meaning glucose is released into the blood almost immediately. This increase in blood sugar triggers the release of insulin, which is stored as fat. Therefore, “foods with high carb ratios cause fatigue and carb cravings as well as promote fat storage.”

Not surprisingly, slow oxidizers are the opposite. They burn through nutrients very slowly which results in delayed energy production. These people should eat a higher ratio of carbs because protein and fat slow oxidization even more.

And finally, balanced oxidizers fall right in the middle. “They require foods that have equal quantities of protein, fat and carbs in order to optimally process, produce and use the energy from their food.”

So how to find out your type?

This article includes a questionnaire from Jillian’s book to determine metabolic type.

Jon and I both did the test and we are both Balanced Oxidizers – lucky us! In fact, our scores are almost identical and are so high that even if we changed some answers, we would still be balance oxidizer.

The tricky part is that our secondary type is opposite (and again, almost the same number score; our respective third type was almost non–existent). Jon’s secondary is Fast Oxidizer while I my second is Slow. This explains why Jon craves protein and I crave carbs. It also makes me feel less annoyed with the carb cravings. My body simply functions better with carbs. Yes, I have this posted on our fridge now, and we’re both thinking about it more as we eat.

Fascinating stuff! Jillian includes a breakdown of what foods are best for each metabolic type after the test, too.

→ Basal Metabolic Rate

This is number of calories burned during regular daily activities. There is a difference between basal metabolic rate (average daily activities) and resting metabolic rate (measures only oxygen input, carbon dioxide output); this isn’t overly important to our general purposes here, though. A proper BMR test has to done by a health professional, but there are some calculators to give an idea.

I like this one from

BMR Calculation for Women: 655 + (4.35 × weight in pounds) + (4.7 × height in inches) – (4.7 × age in years)
BMR Calculation for Men: 66 + (6.23 × weight in pounds) + (12.7 × height in inches) – (6.76 × age in years)
Factor in exercise: Light (1–3 days), BMR x 1.375. Moderate (3–5 days), BMR x 1.55. Heavy (6–7 days), BMR x 1.725.

According to this equation, my BMR is ~1570 calories per day. Add in exercise, and my range is 2400 – 2700 calories per day. Here are two more online calculators from Resting metabolic rate and Basal metabolic rate. For me, these spit out ~1400 RMR and ~1900 BMR.

Now, these obviously aren’t the most scientific of calculators, but they do give me a good range of daily caloric intake. When I average the two different BMR’s,  I get a goal of about 1700 calories per day, plus my activity. So on a 10–mile–run day when I burn 1000+ calories, I should intake more like 2700 calories to support that training. Sheesh, that’s a lot!

P.S. These numbers are to maintain current weight. Add or subtract to gain or lose weight. (disclaimer here that severely restricting calories isn’t healthy, that I’m not a dietitian and you should work with a doctor/registered dietician/nutritionist).

Metabolism birthday ecard {}

→ Metabolic efficiency

I’ll make this one quick. ME is “energy intake based on body weight that is required to maintain current weight,” according to Competitor magazine. To wrap my brain around this, I think of it as a combination of, or the result of, my metabolic type and BMR.

In theory, my metabolic efficiency could be low (hence, “I have a slow metabolism”). This means I should either 1) lower the amount of calories I intake from what BMR calculators say, or 2) eat the best balance of nutrients for my metabolic type. Or, more likely, a combination of both.


OK! Hopefully I haven’t lost everyone with this nerdy science-y post! I’m ALL ABOUT understanding my body, how it functions best and ways to support my running addiction. And in reality, I kind of love the nerdy side of health. I think I missed my calling.


• Added bonus: here are a couple of articles about how eating small meals more often does not, in fact, speed up our metabolisms. Via The If Life, Part I & Part II  |  Via Quick and Dirty Tips, Metabolism Myths.

I didn’t go into that in the post, and I’m not sure how convinced I am either way, but I thought this was worth including. For me, my main take–a–way is finding what works for your body.

• Additional articles: 5 Metabolism myths debunked, via The Daily Beast, and Metabolism myths and facts, via the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.


Did you all know about metabolic typing, and how to eat for your type?
Do you eat for weight loss or to support athletics?

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Homemade organic Dutch oven bread {}

4 ingredients, no sugar, 10-minute prep for delicious homemade bread

At long last, I am finally posting my bread baking shenanigans. I finally have everything together, so here ya go! P.S. I don’t really measure. Sorry. Also, different flours and ovens have a big impact, so this takes some experimenting before making it perfect for you.

Homemade Dutch oven bread {}

Homemade Dutch oven bread {}

Homemade Dutch oven bread {}

Homemade Dutch oven bread {}

Homemade Dutch oven bread {}

Homemade Dutch oven bread {}

Homemade organic Dutch oven bread {}

Homemade organic Dutch oven bread {}

That’s it!

The prep should take less than 10 minutes. Also, don’t leave the loaf in the Dutch oven when you take it out of the oven or it will keep baking; we put it straight onto a plate until it cools down some.

Homemade organic Dutch oven bread {}

I’m going to say  it again: experiment to make it perfect for you! Some loaves will just bake flatter for no apparent reason, while others rise perfectly when baking. A denser flour may require a little more yeast. You may like it with some more salt or a dash of sugar – we like to keep our bread as clean as possible without extra sugar.

Other things to try: mix some oats or dried fruit into the dough, or add cinnamon sugar for a sweet loaf. Try sprinkling some garlic powder or cinnamon on the top right before you put the lid on to bake. Toss it in the oven on a baking sheet after a couple of days to crisp up the outside again. Remember that this bread won’t last as long without all the preservatives. Regarding storage, we keep the Dutch oven out on the stove and keep the baked bread inside.

We love this bread and haven’t purchased store bread since last October (seriously!). I TOTALLY recommend getting a Dutch oven; it’s also great for stews and soups. And they come in all sorts of colors, which is vitally important of course. This is the one I have in bright yellow.

Fit Tip Tuesday Button

Do you ever bake your own bread?
Anyone else use a Dutch oven?

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academic eating {Piloting Paper Airplanes}

Today’s post comes from one of my closest friends. I’ve known Kristin for years. Those years have seen weddings, being housemates, regular “girl talk” walks, and ups and downs of our individual health journeys. She and I were chatting about bingeing and recovering from a binge session the other day, and the result is this post.

P.S. She’s a fabulous writer. I guarantee you some chuckles as she talks about struggles anyone who’s EVER been on a diet understands.

bmi chart {}

In order to fully appreciate the story I’m about to tell, it’s important to know that for the last three-and-a-half years I have been attending college full-time as a non-traditional student and am about to become the first person in my family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. Two bachelor’s degrees, actually.

Waits for raucous applause to die down

Not to brag, but it’s kind of a big deal. Which is why, in a little over four weeks, my family will embark on an 18-hour round-trip drive just to see me walk across a garishly decorated stage wearing a ridiculously unfashionable four-pointed hat. The thing is, I know there will loads of picture-taking—I do not think my mother knows how to function at major events unless she is behind a constantly clicking camera. Inevitably, all photographic documentation occurring during my family’s stay will be plastered on the interwebs for former boyfriends or those mean girls from high school to see. And let’s just say that, unfortunately, the images that are sure to result will not be reflective of my best (outward) self.

academic eating {Piloting Paper Airplanes}

You see, school is hard. It’s hard when you’re nineteen and can thrive indefinitely on Bagel Bites and 30 minutes of sleep; it’s even harder when you’re thirty and married and working a job beside. To say that the goal of finishing school took priority over health and fitness would be a laughable understatement. For the sake of survival I had to let myself go, and now here I am, at the tail-end of my undergrad career, in worse shape than I’ve been since the winter I discovered Vodka and coke.

(‘04-‘05, in case you’re wondering.)

I realize that I can’t undo several years’ worth of damage in two months, but I can sure as heck try. For the last couple of weeks I have been on a low(ish) carb, whole-foods diet and working out like it’s my job. So far, I’ve been doing a great job of disciplining myself, staying on target, hitting my goals. At least I was doing a great job with all of that, until last night when I decided to reward myself and may have lost control a teensy bit.

And by teensy bit, I mean totally. I mean epically. I mean horrifically.

food limit reached {}

It all started when I went with my friends to our favorite pub for happy hour (half priced appetizers and two-dollar well drinks, baby!). My intention was to have a serving of hummus (extra veggies, hold the pita) and one beer. The hummus part of the plan I carried off splendidly; unfortunately, however, that one beer turned into two beers, a shot of tequila, and a shot of vodka — all in a span of less than three hours.

I was not exactly sober at closing time so, in a panicked attempt to avoid a debilitating hangover, I headed to an all-night diner where I ordered the most enormous breakfast skillet anyone’s ever dreamed of, piled almost to the sun with hash browns, ham, country-fried steak, white gravy, eggs, and cheese. Oh, and it also came with a side of pancakes, which of course I smothered in margarine and syrup. I say this next part with all honestly: I cannot recall another time in my life when I felt so full. I literally became concerned that I might explode all over the kind friend who’d offered me a ride home.

I’m sure you can imagine how I felt upon waking this morning: ashamed of myself for having made such a poor series of decisions; angry for having just set myself back an entire week in the span of a few hours; unmotivated, because what the heck is the point in trying if I’m just going to blow it?; and of course, bloat-y and jiggly and icky in general as a natural result of last night’s debauchery. Also, I felt despair, because I just know that I will now look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in all my graduation photos.

It is an embarrassing thing to admit, but this is not, by any stretch of the imagination, my first time around the bingeing block.

weight loss stress {}

I have always had to watch what I eat, considering I was not blessed with those coveted genetics that allow some people to consume whatever they please while remaining lean. Even though it has been this way for the entirety of my adult life, I have never really mastered the art of healthy eating or eating in moderation. I love bad-for-you food, and I love it in even-worse-for-you quantities. I can only deprive myself of ice cream or french fries for so long before some inner monster takes over my body and devours every saturated fat within a ten-mile radius. Once, for instance, I bought a family-sized bag of lime-flavored tortilla chips that my husband asked me to deliver to a friend (his reward for winning fantasy football, I think), but I wound up eating every last chip before I made it to the friend’s house. Another time I bought two pre-bottled root beer floats to go with the massive taco dinner I’d also purchased for myself. I hid the floats in my oversized purse so no one would see me walking from my car to the house with them. On my way up the steps to my house I fell and the glass bottles shattered, spilling sticky root beer/ice cream sludge all over my checkbook, phone, keys, everything. It took me hours to clean up the mess, and in the end I had to buy a new purse.

I’m telling you all of this knowing that many of you can relate. Bingeing just . . . happens, sometimes, despite our best intentions. And it can seem catastrophic when it does happen, derailing not only a person’s diet but also their self-esteem. However, as Larissa is about to share, there is hope for the accidental binger like myself. There are things that can be done to minimize the damage a binge can wreak and to prevent it from happening next time a similar situation occurs.

Larissa here. I want to leave you with four things I always focus on after a binge meal (or vacation or weekend of too much or an event… you get the idea):

1. Let go of the guilt! It’s hard, sure. But binges happen, “bad” meals happen and that’s life. Give yourself permission to move on right away.
I think the mental and emotional aspects of this are the most important – and harmful. 

2. Drink lots of water. We all should be doing this anyway, but I take extra care to hydrate and essentially flush my system (TMI? Maybe).

3. Eat light for a few days – but not too light. I still need to eat enough to support my activity. Just be extra vigilant against that sneaky cookie middle of the afternoon. Big one: do not skip meals.

4. Strength training. I always feel tightest and strongest after some strength work. That feeling is aften exactly what I need to snap out of the guilt and frustration of overeating.

And here are a few other articles:

How to Recover From a Food Binge: 10 Steps to Feel Better | Via First Ourselves

Ate too much? Erase the damage with this simple plan. | Via Prevention
I’m not a big fan of diet plans, but I do like the mindfulness elements of this article.

How to Handle Yourself After a Big Weekend Binge | Via FitSugar


 What are your tips for recovering – and preventing! – a binge session?

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All right ladies, let’s chat.

I’ve been so blessed to “meet” some amazing women who work their bodies and minds every single day. Women who are motivated to make themselves the best version of themselves. Women who challenge the status quo of what’s beautiful or what they “should” look like. Women who are proud!

So please. Tell me why photos like this are all over our Pinterest motivation boards?

Certainly, these women are beautiful and strong. They’ve worked hard I’m sure! Almost as certainly, there’s been some photoshop airbrushing and other touchups… but even without that, these are beautiful women.

Yet I can’t fully appreciate these images as inspiration because they flirt dangerously close to objectification.

Now before anyone freaks out, hold on a hot second. The feminist in me says “who am I to say what someone should wear??” Or “If she wants to pose like that, more power to her!”

And it’s true! But it’s also true that these images perpetuate the idea that a woman’s value is in her body (HOW MANY images cut off a woman’s head like the one above? It’s not artistic; it’s dehumanizing). They tell us that to be fit and beautiful and sexy, we have to look like them.

How do I know this? Because we pin them with hashtags like #motivation and #sexy and #hot!

Here’s my problem: I want my “pinspiration” to appreciate what a body can do, not what it looks like.

This is obviously a fine line in the fitness world. People work hard to have strong, fit bodies and it’s only natural we want to show them off! This isn’t about modesty or wearing a long tank rather than a sports bra. Please. Let’s not play that game.

This is about respect.

Women who compete in bikini competitions? I respect that. They work their asses off and should be insanely proud! Trainers who work hard to inspire their clients – and then work hard with their clients? Respect. Fitness models who are helping challenge that idea that skinny is the ultimate goal? Respect.

Moms with jobs or classes and all the craziness that comes with children who still find time to work out and take care of themselves? I might worship the ground you walk on. There are moms out there who are accomplishing crazy goals!

Photos like the first ones? Here I struggle.

Pinterest pet peeve {}

I chatted with a friend about this the other day, and she suggested that there is a difference between wanting to be healthy and wanting to be desirable. She’s admittedly not “hard–core” about fitness, but she does work out to stay healthy. Her question was, “what would motivate me to take it a step further? It would be wanting to be more desirable.”

I think she makes a good point. Being desired is a pretty strong emotion every one of us feels. Is this why we are drawn to more sexualized images? Because we want to feel more sexy and desirable? The obvious problem with this motivation is that it’s not about ourselves anymore; it now becomes about what others think and what society defines as desirable.

My overall point is that pinning and distributing images that objectify women for their bodies only adds to the problem. I do not want to perpetuate body hatred, negative self–image or the idea that you have to be a certain kind of sexy to be proud/desirable/satisfied.

On the other hand, I realize this is a very tough line to walk. I want to know what you think!

Am I over reacting here or making an issue out of nothing?
What do you look for in motivational images?

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