Wednesday, December 31

Cheers to 2015!

2014 was an incredible year for us at Live Better Forever. From getting married, to buying our first home, to Brian qualifying for the Boston Marathon, we couldn't have had a better year. As we welcome 2015 in Madeira, Portugal, we want to wish everyone a wonderful New Year. Cheers to a happy and healthy 2015!

Friday, December 19

A Paleo Thanksgiving

Recently I had one of the healthiest meals I've ever eaten... and it just so happened to fall on Thanksgiving Day. Jessie's dad -- Dr. C -- was the chef who cooked up a delicious and nutritious Whole30-compliant feast. It was incredible. Here are a few thoughts on the experience, followed by our menu list and corresponding recipes.
  • We certainly ate some larger-than-normal portion sizes, but not nearly as much as your standard Thanksgiving due to satiation. It's amazing how your brain encourages you to stop consuming when you aren't eating refined sugars and processed carbohydrates.
  • Jessie and I have hosted a Whole30 Potluck in the past, and the realization is evident that you can, in fact, stick to your healthy eating guns even at parties and social situations.
  • Many would think that omitting some of the Thanksgiving staples (stuffing, bread, etc.) is sacrilegious and disrespects tradition. I'll kindly disagree. Jessie and I don't plan to have Whole30-compliant Thanksgiving dinners every year moving forward. And while certain dishes can hold a special place in your heart, the more important piece is who you're with.


Top Left: Kale Salad
Left: Turkey with Dressing
Bottom: Root Vegetable Mash
Middle: Swiss Chard
Top Right: Squash
Bottom Right: Cranberry Sauce

Recipe links coming soon!

Monday, December 15

Becoming a Coach

Back in October I met David Bertrand for coffee to have a casual conversation about his career path and to learn more about his life story. David is well-known and respected within the coaching and triathlon community, two areas in life I’ve had a long-time affinity for. I wanted to pick his brain.

I’m not sure if it was the coffee, or our dialogue, but we chatted for over two hours – and it felt like ten minutes. Near the end David asked me a question to which I thought the answer was obvious: “Have you ever thought about coaching?” Of course I had. My passion for health/wellness, sharing information, and helping others is far from fleeting; I had just never taken that next step to make it official.

So here I am. Making it official by becoming a Coach with DFW Tri Club. I’m hitching my wagon to an organization that believes in healthy living, keeps training simple, appreciates consistency, and – arguably most important – has fun!

It’s been a big year. 2014 has been filled with milestones: I got married, qualified for Boston, and bought a house. And yet even with all that, the excitement of becoming a coach has still been hard to contain.

David and I met again recently, this time to talk shop on coaching next steps. The conversation was equally as invigorating as the one a couple months back. Nearly two hours went by before we left the restaurant. I walked outside to my car and realized I had left my keys inside, but after several minutes of searching with no luck I was stumped – where the heck were they?

That’s when David made the profound statement: “Dude, your car is running.”

I had left my car running our entire meeting. Whoops.

Here’s to many more memories and milestones in 2015 with DFW Tri Club. Here’s to becoming a coach.

One of my first clients, Will, making me proud after the Dallas Marathon

Sunday, October 12

Sun-dried Tomato Mac Nut Hummus


If you're looking for a gluten-free, healthier appetizer or snack for your tailgates and game-day get togethers, this dish hits the spot. It's sure to please a wide variety of tastes and we can't get enough of it! Hope you enjoy!

Prep Time: 1-8 hours (Or, less)
Hands on Time: 10 min.
Serves: 8-10 people
Tools: High powered blender

Ingredients: 
1 c sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
1/2 c basil
1 1/2 c soaked macadamia nuts (preferably 8 hours)
1 clove garlic minced
1/4 c olive oil (or more)
Plantain chips or dipping food of choice

Instructions:
1. Soak macadamia nuts for 1 to 8 hours. (If you run out of time, I've made due with only soaking the mac nuts for 20 min).
2. Place all ingredients except for plantain chips in a high-powered blender, olive oil first. 
3. Blend until the consistency of hummus. Use blender stick to help blend ingredients. Add more olive oil if needed to get a smoother consistency. 
4. Chill if desired and serve with plantain chips, carrots, celery or veggies chips for a gluten-free, deliciously healthy appetizer. 



Friday, October 3

Boston-bound! (No, seriously...)

On September 24th I received confirmation that I'll be running the 2015 Boston Marathon. I repeat: I have received confirmation.



For those of you who have followed the blog and my progress, you know how tough this has been. There's been promising short-coming's, frustrating finishes and devastating misses. Here's a quick re-cap of my journey to qualify for Boston:

Felt Great to Fail: My first attempt at the Chicago Marathon in 2011. I ran a 3:10:52, coming up about 5min short. Disappointing not to hit the Boston-qualifying (BQ) time, but I was elated to finish with a personal best by 20min.

Closure on Chicago: My second attempt to BQ at the Chicago Marathon in 2012. I ran a 3:10:25, an almost identical performance compared to the year prior. This race sucked. I was fit and fully capable of posting a BQ time, but poor nutrition/fueling got the best of me.

Third Time Not a Charm: My third attempt to BQ at the Dallas Marathon in 2012. Too much too soon, as I wasn't adequately recovered from Chicago. Not to mention, this was a warmer/muggy day in Dallas. Not ideal for a fast marathon.

We Did It!: My fourth attempt in Newport, Oregon in June of 2013 was one of the most special weekends of my life. I BQ'd with a time of 3:03:37 and just after finishing asked my then soon-to-be father-in-law permission for his daughter's hand.

The Quest Continues: In September 2013 demand for Boston exceeded spots available and the cut-off was a mere 15 seconds faster than my BQ time. I was not admitted into the 2014 Boston Marathon.

Houston Marathon: In January I ran the 2014 Houston Marathon... pissed off. Fueled by the fire of non-admittance to Boston, I trained hard and raced hard. I BQ'd with a personal best of 3:02:38. This would be the race that got me in to the 2015 Boston Marathon.

Five marathons in nearly three years, and here we are. Boston-bound. A blog post can't quite do this journey justice. Heck, none of these blog posts can. I've tried my best to express my feelings through written articles, but I don't believe they've lived up to what this experience has really meant. Which is why I'm going to speak it aloud.


Monday, July 21

Marble Falls Triathlon 2014

This past weekend Jessie and I completed the Marble Falls Triathlon not too far from Austin, TX. Jessie completed the Sprint distance swim-bike-run, while I opted for the Olympic or International distance: 1,000m swim, 23mi bike and 4.4mi run.

This race was special for two main reasons. First, was the fact that it was our first triathlon in almost two years. With all my attention dedicated to qualifying for Boston, swimming and biking took a back seat the past few seasons. The other reason this race was special was that it marked the four year anniversary of my first-ever triathlon, which just so happened to be the same race. I was nostalgic before the swim start, thinking back on my first race; it felt surreal to be back in Marble Falls to reignite my triathlon passion.

My race strategy was simple:

  1. Swim: don't drowned.
  2. Bike: take it easy (lots of hills).
  3. Run: give it what I had left.
All of this resulted in a great experience that I'll sum up in three words: humbling, motivating and fun.

Humbling

Four years ago I wrote a short recap of my first triathlon race in Marble Falls, and in it I said: "What a humbling experience it is to see 55-year-old women fly by you on the bike going up a hill." Even after four years of endurance training under my belt, it's still something that happens... and it's still a humbling experience. I must say, I knew I wasn't in that great of shape going into this race, but being back out there made me realize that many people have been working hard at multi-sport while I was zeroed in on one. There are no shortcuts in this sport if you if you want a respectable time. You can't cheat your way out of training. Only beating my previous Marble Falls time by 15min (with much cooler temperatures this go-around) reminded me of those facts.

Motivating

But the humble pie inspired me. Being out with a community of people determined to be healthy and accomplish their goals was incredibly motivating. The fast athletes revved up my competitive engine. The first-timer's reminded me of myself four years ago and the positive impact it's since had on my life. I came away from Marble Falls tired, sore, and motivated to get back into training.

Fun

Jessie and I aren't making money off of this sport (although you'd think some people are with how serious they take it). It's not a job, it doesn't pay the bills. Far from it, actually, triathlon can be expensive! Ultimately we do this because it's fun. Yes, putting your body through the ringer to cross the finish line is fun to us. Some think it's a sick cult, but triathlon has added a tremendous amount of value to our lives: health and fitness, goal-oriented determination and countless friendships. Training and racing are incredibly fun, and I hadn't realized how much I missed the ladder! 

Jessie and me before the race

Saturday, July 19

Golden Beet, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

To enjoy the wonderful food that's in season this July, try this awesome salad for lunch or as a starter to your main course.




Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 60 min
Serves: 2-4 people

Ingredients:
4 golden beets, peeled and trimmed
1/2 lb fresh mozzarella, diced into cubes
2 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
20 leaves of fresh basil, roughly chopped
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Wrapped the wash, peeled and trimmed beets in foil and roast on a baking sheet for 60 minutes or until soft and easy to pierce with a fork.
3. Remove from the oven and let cool in the foil. Once cool to touch, cut into 1/4 inch slices.
4. Mix together the mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and basil in a salad bowl and add the beets. Drizzle with the oil and vinegar all over. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Serve and Enjoy!

Sunday, July 13

Crock Pot 7 Bone Beef Roast

Brian and I recently ordered a local grass-fed cow to share between three couples. This was an idea we had to not only save a little on coast, but to support local farmers and have a really fresh order of meat. Needless to say, we have a lot of beef in our freezer now! The 7 bone roast was one of the largest packages, so I decided to cook it first since the freezer was filled to the brim. Hope you enjoy this recipe inspired by Civilized Caveman Cooking.

Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 9 to 10 hours
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:
7 bone beef roast
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery sticks, peeled and chopped
24 oz tomato sauce
1/2 cup red wine
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbs oregano
1 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
1 handful fresh parsley

Instructions:
1. Put the chopped onion, carrots and celery in your crock pot.
2. Place the 7 bone roast on top of the veggies.
3. Mix the tomato sauce, red wine, garlic, oregano, thyme, paprika, cayenne and salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed depending on the level of spice you prefer.
4. Pour the sauce on top of the roast.
5. Cook the roast for 9 to 10 hours on low.
6. When ready to serve sprinkle fresh parsley on top. Serve with cauliflower mash or other veggies.
7 Enjoy!

Watermelon Gazpacho

This is a light and refreshing dish - perfect for a summertime lunch or starter before the main dinner course!


Prep Time: 10 min. + 4 hours to chill
Tools: High-powered blender
Serves: 6-8 people

Ingredients:
4 beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes 
1 medium sized cucumber, peeled
1 shallot, coarsely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded, cored and chopped
5 stalks of fresh cilantro with leaves
3 cups watermelon, cubed and seeded 
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
1. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a rolling boil. While you wait for the water to boil, fill another large bowl with water and ice.
2. Cut a small X on the bottom of each tomato. Use a large soup spoon or another method to carefully drop each tomato in the boiling water. Blanch tomatoes for about 30 seconds, then transfer them to the ice water.
3. After the tomatoes have chilled for a minute or two, peel off their skins. Then, core and roughly chop them. Slide the chopped tomatoes, juices and seeds into the blender. 
4. Peel the cucumber, and finely dice 1/3 of it to set aside for garnish. Roughly chop the rest of the cucumber and add to the blender. 
5. Add the chopped shallots and red pepper as well as the cilantro to the blender with the tomatoes and cucumber. Puree until the veggies are liquefied. (Make sure to cover the blender to avoid splattering!).
6. Add the chopped watermelon, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper to the blended veggies and blend again until smooth. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
7. Pour the gazpacho into a large bowl or jars and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until fully chilled. 
8. When ready to serve, if ingredients have separated a little bit, blend again as needed. Then, ladle the gazpacho into chilled cups or bowls. Top with a drizzle of olive oil, chopped cucumber and cracked pepper. 
9. Enjoy and stay cool!

Thursday, June 19

Wedding Advice From Newlyweds

On May 31, 2014 we got married. And it was by far one of the best days of our lives. We realize we haven't written a post in a while (wedding planning will do that to you!), so we figured we'd make our comeback with this. Because it is now most definitely official: we're going to Live Better Forever... together!

Post-reception in our getaway car

Throughout the entire wedding planning process, and even post-wedding beyond the honeymoon, we have tried to be very attentive. We’ve made a deliberate decision to remain tuned in to the present, soaking in all the details along the journey. And throughout it all we’ve had many folks give us advice. Advice on the wedding, and marriage in general. Some of it has been incredibly valuable. But like all advice you receive in life, some you take, some you don't. We certainly aren't qualified to give much advice on marriage -- 20 days experience doesn't sound to impressive on the resume! -– but what we can do is give pointers on some aspects of the wedding weekend.

To all our friends getting married in the coming weeks, months or years, this is for you. And feel free to do as we did: take it or leave it!



It's OK to stress about the details

If you're getting married soon, there's a high probability that by now you've probably been stressed out over something. Floral arrangements, place settings, guest lists, you name it. The details that go into event planning of this magnitude can be overwhelming. Often times we heard: "In a few weeks, it'll all be over" or "After the wedding, these details won't matter." We appreciated the intention of those comments, but the truth is that they never helped much. It's kind of like telling someone "It could  be worse." Well yes, yes it could be worse. It could probably always be worse. But how does that help the current situation at hand? The fact is that many of us get caught up and stressed out during the planning of one of the most important days of our lives. And guess what? That's OK! Embrace it as part of the process that makes the end result that much sweeter. Because in the end, the stress will have been utterly worth it.

We stressed about this (OK fine, Jessie stressed about this)
Be present at the ceremony

This doesn't mean show up (which of course isn't a bad idea!) -– it means try to truly be present. Spiritually, emotionally and mentally there in the moments. You’ll have a sanctuary or room filled with people staring at you, people you haven’t seen in years, people you’re anxious to greet and chat with. But don’t let this deter from the point of the ceremony or distract from the importance of the ritual. There’s been a lot of chaos leading up to this moment, and for a few minutes you get a subdued environment to take a few deep breaths and pause. A few moments to let the hectic nature of wedding planning, nonstop events and out of town guests become secondary to what ultimately matters most: each other, in those moments. Take it all in. You’ll love it and be thankful for it looking back.


Don't feel bad about not talking to every guest

Depending on the size of the wedding and the amount of guests that are in attendance, there's a chance you won’t get around to saying hello to everyone. Don’t feel guilty or anxious; simply accept it and realize that many married couples go through the same thing at their wedding. Expect 10-second conversations before you move on to someone else. No one gets their feelings hurt as they've been through it, too. With that being said, get on the dance floor and have fun. It's your party and you don't want to spend all of it mingling. 


Ask people if they had a good time

Here's an interesting one. If your honeymoon is immediately following your wedding, then there's a possibility that this will happen to you too. Here's what happens. Your whisked off abruptly from the reception and inevitably fall off the grid on your honeymoon. Upon return from your honeymoon people naturally ask about your trip. The odd thing is that enough time has elapsed that people don't say much about the actual wedding. You spend about 1,000x more time and energy planning the wedding than you do the honeymoon, but people ask you about what's most relevant. Yet you want to hear feedback about the big day. Did people have fun? Did they like the cake? Were there any funny stories about people partying too hard or a cousin dancing with a friend? Don't be afraid to ask people for feedback on their experience. It won't change the outcome of yours, and you'll get to hear other peoples' perspectives on the evening which is fun.


Let the current take you

People will tell you to "cherish every moment." To be honest, we're not entirely sure what that means, nor did we have any clue on how to execute on that. How does one cherish? Now this may seem contradictory to being present in the moments of the ceremony, but the fact is that there is over-stimulation going on at the reception. People pulling you in every direction. And yes, the perception of time does seem to speed up. So just have fun. Don't worry about how much time you have left or who you haven't seen. Let the inertia of the night, or "the current" if you will, take you. It's one hell of a ride.



Expect a post-wedding come-down

That sounds depressing and incredibly pessimistic. We know, but hear us out, as there's actually quite a bit of literature on this topic. For months you've been focused on this day, diligently planning and preparing. An abstract date on a calendar has finally become reality. It's been all about you for a long time... and then it's over. We think every married couple has the right to feel a little bummed out the day after their wedding. It's like the day after Christmas on steroids. If you don't feel this sensation, great! If you do, know that you're not alone and it passes quickly. We have had so much joy in re-living some of our wedding weekend moments. You see, like anything in life, there's more than one way to look at things. The fact that your magical day happened far out-weighs the fact that it's over. You've got a memory to re-live for eternity. 


Wednesday, May 7

The Slow Carb Diet: Preface

This series of posts are dedicated to the Slow Carb Diet made popular by Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Body. I’ve broken it out into four parts:

Preface:         Brief introduction to level-set
Part I:            An outline of what the Slow Carb Diet entails, Paleo vs. Slow Carb
Part II:           Experience and results
Part III:          Lessons learned and applying them going forward

Preface

Before we dive into the subject matter, I wanted to make a few quick comments to properly set the stage…

Mission statements. Mission statements can be helpful in serving as a reminder of the purpose of a task or any other undertaking. I’m not sure if you've been able to read our “START HERE” tab, but this series of posts on Slow Carb warrants a quick re-visit before we get going. Specifically, this excerpt:
“…we see ourselves as the 'curators' of healthy living practices.  We write about and research health and wellness methods that, through personal experience and the testimonies of others, are optimal for not just surviving, but thriving.”
It’s with the spirit of that mission statement Jessie and I approach all elements of health, fitness and general wellness, including The Slow Carb Diet.

About a year ago I read The 4-Hour Work Week (4HWW) by Tim Ferriss. I loved it. I’d consider it to be one of the most important books I've read. Some of the principles are a bit kooky, but there is a ton of practical application. I've witnessed first-hand some of the tactics recommended in the book to become more efficient in life and work, and to ultimately free up some of the most valuable asset in the world: time.

But these blog posts aren’t about the 4HWW, they’re aimed at another piece by Tim Ferriss. From my own positive experiences, the 4HWW gave Tim Ferriss some credibility. So much in fact that I decided to pick up this second book (which played off of the theme of the first), The 4-Hour Body (4HB). The 4HB is most notably known for “The Slow Carb Diet”, a method of eating Jessie and I have tinkered with over the past few months.

Without any further delay, let’s get into it! What is the Slow Carb Diet?

Part I: What is the Slow Carb Diet?

Friday, April 18

The Slow Carb Diet: Part I

This series of posts are dedicated to the Slow Carb Diet made popular by Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Body. I’ve broken it out into four parts:

Preface:         Brief introduction to level-set
Part I:            An outline of what the Slow Carb Diet entails, Paleo vs. Slow Carb
Part II:           Experience and results
Part III:          Lessons learned and applying them going forward

What is the Slow Carb Diet?


When people ask me what "Slow Carb” is, I usually rattle off a slew of answers. But instead of doing that first, let’s have you take a look at the basic rules for yourself.

1.       Avoid all "white" carbohydrates (e.g. bread, rice, cereal, potatoes, etc.)
2.       Eat the same few meals over and over again
a)       Breakfast must be within an hour of waking (aim for 30g of protein within 30min)
3.       Don't drink calories
a)       No milk, soft drinks, fruit juices
b)       Unlimited coffee and unsweetened tea
c)       Up to two glasses of red wine allowed per night
4.       Don't eat fruit
a)       Avocado/tomato are allowed
5.       Take one day off per week (also known as “Binge/Cheat Day”)

What do you think at first glance? Does it look hard? Boring? Not sustainable? We'll discuss in Part II.

In a nutshell, I tell people that the Slow Carb Diet (SCD) is Paleo with a few tweaks (more on this below). Beans/legumes are allowed, while fruit is not. One cheat day per week is required. And it's strongly recommended, if not mandated, to consume a high-protein breakfast.

Methods of the Madness 



Paleo vs. Slow Carb

I don't want to spend a ton of time on this, but I do think it deserves to be addressed in some fashion. As most of our readers know, Jessie and I typically follow a Paleo Diet template. We stick to the fundamentals for the majority of the time, but allow ourselves to indulge on occasion.

As I mentioned before, the SCD is similar to Paleo in most aspects, but instead of fruit, you can eat beans & legumes, which is a Paleo no-no. This legume issue is getting more and more attention as of late (if you're curious, here's one take, and here's another). The name “Slow Carb” plays off of it being low in carbohydrates by nature, but also, the types of carbohydrates allowed have a lower glycemic index. In other words, the carbs are slower to digest than others, like fruit. 



Another Paleo no-no would be the binge day that's allowed in the SCD. Most Paleo templates would likely be OK with some dark chocolate or the very special occasion indulgence, but in the SCD, it's a requirement.

Last note here, that I think is very important to point out, is that there are multiple variations of "Paleo." Mark Sisson has his "Primal Blueprint" way of eating, Chris Kresser has a "Personal Paleo Code", Paul Jaminet has a "Perfect Health Diet" and Robb Wolf and Loren Cordain subscribe to a more traditional "Paleo Diet."

Sunday, April 6

Slow-Cooker Mexican Beef Stew


Serves: 4
Prep Time: 30 min.
Cook Time: 7 hours
Tools: Slow-cooker

Ingredients
12 oz beef stew meat, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 - 2 inch pieces
3 cloves garlic
1 lime, zested and juiced, divided
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 jalapeño chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped
28 oz can BPA-free canned unsalted crushed tomatoes
1 cup BPA-free canned unsalted, black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup BPA-free canned unsalted, pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tsp chili powder
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

Instructions
1. In a 6-qt slow cooker, combine beef, garlic, lime juice, onion, jalapeño, tomatoes, black beans, pinto beans, apple cider vinegar, chili powder, salt, cumin, coriander and black pepper.
2. Stir well and cover. Cook on low heat until beef is tender, about 7 hours.
3. When stew is ready, uncover and stir in cilantro. Top with avocado.

Sunday, March 30

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche


Prep and Cook Time: 1 hour, 20 min. 
Serves: 6

Ingredients: 
8 eggs, beaten
1 cup frozen spinach
2 cups cottage cheese (whole-fat)
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs coconut oil or macadamia nut oil 
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: 
1. Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees, and lightly grease a 9-inch baking dish
2. Add the oil to a medium sauce pan on medium heat and saute the garlic for a min. or so. Then, add the onion and mushrooms and cook until tender. Set aside in a medium-large mixing bowl. 
3. In the same sauce pan, cook the spinach on medium heat, stirring occasionally until soft. Drain off any remaining liquid. 
4. Add in the spinach, eggs and cottage cheese to the onion, garlic and mushroom mixture and stir together. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. 
6. Bake uncovered in the oven for 1 hour, or until the eggs are set. 

Sunday, March 16

Beach Body Shortcuts

2011 Kaua'i: Mom & Kylie
It's that time of year again. The snow is melting, the weather is warming up and the days are longer. Spring is among us (sorry, Chicago) and by extension Summer is just around the corner. This means people are coming out of hibernation, shaking off the cobwebs and ramping up their workouts to achieve that beach body (or "poolside body", for all my fellow Texans nowhere near a decent body of water).

Social Media is buzzing more about workouts now than they were after New Year's Day. Gyms appear to be more crowded, and biking and running trails are packed with folks wanting to burn calories and enjoy the nicer climate. I'm in the same boat. I took a pseudo-hiatus and joined the hibernation of many after the Houston Marathon. But now the sun and fresh air have made me more motivated than ever to get back out there.

Some of the efforts of folks are valiant. Many I've seen have a strict diet and an even stricter workout regimen. And while I certainly applaud this effort, or any other effort to safely achieve better health, I want to bring up a few reminders.

Sunday, March 9

Green Curry Chicken


Prep and Cook Time: 20 min.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts, chopped
2/3 c frozen peas
1/3 onion, diced
1-2 c coconut milk
1 red bell pepper, diced
2-3 tbs thai green curry paste
1-2 tbs coconut oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Cauliflower fried rice 

Instructions: 
1. Heat oil in a heavy sauce pan, dice and add the onion.
2. Dice and add the bell pepper and peas. Stir and cook until the onion is soft and and translucent.
3. While the onion, bell pepper and peas are cooking, wash and chop the chicken breast into bite size pieces.
4. Add the chicken and thai curry paste. Stir until the chicken is almost cooked through.
5. Add the coconut milk (more or less depending on the consistency you would like - more if soupier, less if thicker). Bring to a boil and let simmer for 3-5 min.
6. Serve over cauliflower fried rice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
7. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 4

Weight as an Indicator of Health

Any time you read the testimonials of people who completed a diet, fitness program or some other health/lifestyle challenge, more often than not the first measurement of success cited is weight loss. Jessie and I have experienced this first-hand, as we've done several Whole30s. We often do these with a group of people, most of whom have touted their decreased weight. Almost everyone is quick to share their numbers. We're guilty, too. But "guilty" isn't even the right word here. There's nothing wrong with being happy about losing weight... 

...as long as it's in the right context.

Tuesday, February 25

Easy Salmon Cakes


Cook Time: 20 min.
Serves: 4-6
Tools: Parchment paper

These are so easy to make and delicious on salads or ask a snack on their own! They're great to make earlier in the week and have for lunches throughout the week.  We've adapted this recipe from the wonderful book: It Starts with Food

Monday, February 24

Houston Marathon

Welcome to Brian's Houston Marathon page! 

It is here that you will find links to all installments leading up, and related to, the 2014 Houston Marathon. If you're training for a race, I hope you find this to be an asset that can compliment your training regimen. If you're not training for a race, I believe you can still take some fundamentals from this series and apply them to your life. Hopefully this series makes a strong case that it is possible to run less, eat low-carb/Paleo and still perform. At the bare minimum, perhaps you'll get some joy just from reading about my journey!

Below are the links to each post, along with a short description of topics covered. The training program was 16 weeks. Each post has run mileage totals and commentary on the week of training. Most also contain a 'theme' that I highlight below.

Enjoy!

Back to Work: The first post! I establish my goal of running a sub-3hr marathon in Houston.
Baseline: I document my fitness before official training begins.
Week 1: The "Base" phase of training: Strength, endurance and proper run form/technique.
Week 2: Hill repeats to build strength.
Week 3: The critical nature of rest & recovery.
Week 4: Building confidence with "Training Races."
Week 5: Controlling emotions throughout training.
Week 6: Why allowing for adjustments in a training schedule is essential.
Week 7: The difference between volume and intensity.
Week 8: Mental strength.
Week 9: The impact climate has on training and racing.
Week 10: The "Build" phase of training.
Week 11: Injury prevention via sports chiropractic. 
Week 12: Massage therapy and its benefits. 
Week 13: Trusting in your training plan.
Week 14: Gaining confidence through key workouts.
Week 15: Tapering.
Week 16: Race week: the final days leading up to the race!
Race Recap: My post-race report, along with thank-you's to all who supported me!





Thursday, February 20

Houston Marathon: Race Recap

At the end of September 2013 I began a 16 week training program to prepare me for the Houston Marathon. After qualifying for Boston once before and still missing the registration cut-off, I knew I had to up the ante. So I set an aggressive goal: run Houston in under three hours. For the past four months I completed somewhere in the ballpark of 100 workouts, all complimenting each other and culminating at one 26.2mi run on January 19, 2014.


These workouts included 54 runs, which was a little over 300mi. They spanned across a couple of engagement parties, the Holiday Season, as well as my birthday and a Whole30. The runs took place inside and outside, at a track or around a lake. Some were great, others were awful. The sum total of all my runs made me faster and fitter than I've ever been. I was primed to run a sub-3hr race, but fell just short, running a 3:02:38 (6:58/mi).



Tuesday, February 18

Homemade Bone Broth

Bone broth is a great way to build-up your immune system, especially during flu and cold season. A great source of not only calcium, the broth contains other minerals that are difficult to obtain elsewhere in the diet, such as magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. (Read more about the benefits in "Broth is Beautiful" and "The Superfood Drink That Will Keep You Going" articles)

Homemade bone broth is easy to make using the carcass of a chicken or turkey, or by saving the bones in meats you buy, and adding to it in a crock pot or dutch oven with some spices and veggies. 

As you'd suspect, the quality of the animal the bones come from is important. The best options for making bone broth are pasture-raised chickens, pork or turkeys, grass-fed beef, and wild-caught fish. This is because conventionally raised animals and fish may contain higher amounts of lead or other harmful toxins in their bones. Read Chris Kresser's article on "Bone broth and lead toxicity" to learn more. 

Makes: 6-10 cups
Cook time: 12 to 18 hours
Tools: Crock pot or dutch oven

Ingredients
Before cooking.
2 lbs of animal bones
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 medium celery sticks, chopped
4 garlic cloves, pealed and smashed
1/4 c apple cider vinegar (this helps draw out the minerals from the bones)
1 tsp sage
1 tbs oregano
1 tbs thyme
1 tbs basil
2 bay leaves
1 tsp sea salt
6-10 cups water (enough to cover the ingredients in the pot)

Instructions
After cooking.
1. Place all ingredients in a crock pot or dutch oven: bones, onion, celery, carrots, garlic, apple cider vinegar, spices, water. (You don't have to make it with all the spices if you're looking for a simpler broth - bones, garlic, vinegar, salt and water will work fine as well).
2. Cook on low heat for 12 to 18 hours, or if you're cooking in a dutch oven at 190 degrees for 12 to 18 hours.
3. Remove the broth mixture from heat and filter through a mesh strainer, colander or something similar. Throw away the bones and remaining contents. 
4. Use to make soups and other recipes, or drink by itself. The broth can be stored in the refrigerator for a week and will form a beautiful gelatin. (This is due to the presence of gelatin in the broth, so don't be alarmed when the broth congeals after cooling). If you're not going to use all of the broth within a week you can also store in the freezer for later use.
5. Enjoy!


Monday, February 17

Cauliflower Mash


Serves: 8 
Cook time: 20-30 min.
Tools: Food processor or high-powered blender

Ingredients 
·         1 head of cauliflower, cut into large florets
·         3 garlic cloves, peeled
·         3 tbs Kerry Gold butter (grass-fed) (or, Ghee for Whole30'ers), melted
·         1/4 cup of full fat goat milk yogurt
·         1 tsp saffron salt 
·         1 tsp freshly grated black pepper

Instructions: 
  1. Steam or pressure cook the cauliflower until soft. (If steaming on the stove, it will take approximately 20 min or so).
  2. While the cauliflower is cooking, melt the butter, and add the butter, yogurt, garlic, saffron salt and pepper to the food processor or high powered blender. 
  3. When the cauliflower's done, place directly in the food processor and blend all ingredients until smooth. 
  4. Serve warm and enjoy!

Thursday, February 13

Featured Whole30'er: Ian

Why did you decide to do Whole30?

Because I like a challenge!  And it was becoming apparent that if I didn’t, I would be the only member of my small group to have NOT done it.  But seriously, for several reasons:

I've always been healthy and in good shape. Not the healthiest or the best shape, but passable. I still wear jeans that I bought when I was 20. But even with consistent running, weight training, and avoiding soda or junk food, I had hit a plateau that I couldn't get past.

I wanted to try new foods. I like leafy greens and raw vegetables, but I don’t eat cooked veggies very often.  One of my goals was to branch out, try new things, and get over my long-held aversion to foods like onions, broccoli, and mushrooms.

My fiancé agreed to do this with me.  We wanted to learn more meal and recipe ideas that we could make together.  Having a Whole 30 partner to be accountable to helped immensely.

What has been the hardest part?

Explaining the program is tough.  I tried to refrain from calling it a “diet”, but that was difficult.  My answer became “it’s whole fruits, vegetables, meat, and nuts.  Very similar to Paleo”. My fiancé didn't want to make people feel uncomfortable by our choices, but I have no problem if I exude arrogance for something like this. After all, it started a lot of good conversations.

Monday, February 10

Zucchini Pasta


Prep and Cook Time: 10-15 min.
Serves: 4-6
Tools: Horizontal peeler 

Friday, February 7

Featured Whole30'er: Jennifer E.

Why did you decide to do a Whole30?

I decided to take on the Whole30 challenge for a multitude of reasons:
  1. The idea came from my fiance. He asked if I'd be willing to eat healthier with him for a month.  Although I had some hesitation and difficulty with "scheduling 30 days of healthy eating", he convinced me that we could still manage it. I'm so glad he did. It's brought nothing but healthy food into my life and a large amount of quality time with the man I love. We share hours of planning, shopping, communicating, cooking and eating with one another. And I've really enjoyed that part of Whole30.  The next time he asks me to do this- I won't hesitate. I will simply say: "Yes! I'd love to, when do you want to start?"
  2. I secretly love and enjoy challenges of all kinds, be it career goals, physical health goals, educational goals, financial goals or spiritual goals, I'm always up for setting new goals and creating a plan to meet them. I love having goals and challenges in my life.
  3. I have a fiance! Which also means I have a wedding and a honeymoon coming up... and oh yeah- a lifetime of love, joy and happiness ahead of me. I want to be ready for it all- and that means I want to be healthy for it all.
  4. In honor of my grandmother- I watched her fight stage 4 cancer for eight months. She passed away a day before I started Whole30. Recognizing that I have only so much time on this earth to love, I don't want to waste it. I realize that taking care of my physical fitness will allow me to do what I love most- spend precious time with my friends and family.

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