Paleo Meal Roundup #2

We’ve continued to follow a semi-paleo diet – about 50% paleo on weekends and 80% paleo on weekdays – it seems to help with alleviating some potential symptoms of my anti-thyroid medication (weight gain, low energy levels), and I feel pretty great eating this way. But I think the recipes below would appeal to both paleo and non-paleo eaters alike! Here’s the link to the first round-up, if you missed it!


Plantain no-grain cupcake – this is such a simple recipe – I often make it the day before a long run and eat it for breakfast.  I usually add maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla extract for additional flavor.  It’s not particularly cupcake-like in my opinion; more like a soft bread, but still healthy and delicious!

Almost 5 ingredient spaghetti pizza pie – I don’t know why it took me this long to try this massively popular PaleOMG recipe – it’s SO GOOD. Want pizza for breakfast? Eat this.  It’s healthy and low-carb thanks to the spaghetti squash! It’s not just a breakfast dish either – I’m sure this would be equally good at any time of the day.0704161556e_HDR


Smashed steak skewers with cherry BBQ sauce – This is a winner from NomNomPaleo – made easier with pitted frozen cherries! I made it once before, but made the mistake of using cubed steak this time around, haha.  The sauce was still delicious though.

Stuffed cabbage rolls – Mike and I both LOVED this dish – I used cauliflower rice to keep it low-carb/ paleo, and my non-paleo husband still liked it! Can’t wait to think of variations on the stuffing.0704161640a_HDR
BBQ meatballs and cauliflower mash – I cheated and used bottled BBQ sauce for the meatballs, but the cauliflower mash was the real winner here! Steaming the cauli is key to ensuring a smooth puree. I love the creative use of vegetables in paleo recipes :)0720161812a_HDR

Faux pho – This is a super-easy dish, thanks to the use of the slow cooker to roast the 5-spice ribs first.  I thought a whole rack of ribs would last us a while, but Mike inhaled big bowls of this, so it was only about 3 dinners worth, haha.  Can’t wait to make this again in the winter!0718161852_HDR

Gluten-free Honorable Mentions

Cucumber soba – I love cold soba noodles with dipping sauce (a Japanese dish) – so perfect for summer – and tried subbing spiralized cucumber noodles for some of the traditional buckwheat noodle.  It’s really good! The cucumbers are so refreshing with the salty soba sauce.  Not quite paleo (soba sauce contains soy), but a great no grain option!0622161834_HDR
Vietnamese summer rolls – this is another great no-grain/gluten-free option thanks to the rice paper wraps. We made ours with shrimp, carrots, lettuce, jalapenos, mint, basil, and hoisin sauce. Another great summer meal requiring minimal cooking.0711161903a_HDR

LavaBarre Review

I’ve slowly jumped on the barre bandwagon because I’m realizing that it supplements running very well; barre classes focus on core as well as strengthening the muscle groups in the legs and arms, and there’s a heavy emphasis on form throughout the class. In fact, many of the exercises are similar to those you might find in a physical therapy routine to rehab running injuries (e.g. hamstring, knee), so I think of barre as an investment in continuing to run healthy (and an investment it is – $$$ haha).

Lately, I’ve been trying out various barre studios to explore different teaching styles and studios – in the past, I’ve taken classes at the ever-popular Pure Barre, B. Fit, and Biker Barre. So when a package of 5 LavaBarre classes popped up on Gilt City earlier this year, I grabbed the chance to try the new-to-me studio in Arlington! You guys, I’m in love.

0712160612a_HDR 0705160616a_HDR The studio is really easy to get to, just a few blocks from the Rosslyn metro stop. When I walked in, I was struck by the beautiful space with its hardwood floors, lofty industrial ceilings and tons of natural light.0705160622a_HDR 0705160617a_HDR0705160621d_HDRThe bathrooms have lockers with built-in locks, showers with premium shampoo/ conditioner/ bodywash/ lotion, hair dryers, towels, disposable slippers, and other amenities to help you get ready for the rest of your day.

0712160614a_HDR0712160615a_HDR 0705160620a_HDR 0705160620b_HDR 0705160621c_HDR The studio offers four types of classes – barre, TRX, cycle, and yoga. I took four barre classes and one TRX class and really enjoyed every one!


0719160648a_HDRI took most of my barre classes with the lovely and talented Melanie Reza on Tuesdays at 6:30 AM. Each class worked all the major muscles – the flow was typically a quick warmup, followed by legwork (glutes, quads), then arms/back, then more legwork (hamstrings, adductors, abductors, calves), core and stretching.  Some of the elements I loved:
Great music/playlists – songs were upbeat and paced for the movements we were doing and the volume was never blaring
Small and intimate classes – the largest class I went to was 8 (vs. purebarre, where there were ~40 people in the class and I had a hard time following/seeing the instructor)
Plenty of form cues – the class is fast-paced but the instructor always emphasized proper form over speed, and often came by to provide hands on guidance
The lavender cold towel! – haha, just read a few of their Yelp reviews and you’ll see everyone loves these.  They are provided at the end of class to help you cool down and wipe off mats


I took one TRX class at 7 AM on a Tuesday morning, and was surprised at how quickly the class went by. We did 5-10 min sets focusing on arms, legs, cardio and core and I was quickly sweating!
Similar pros to the barre classes – great music, form cues and demonstration by the instructor. I did feel the TRX class was a little more crowded, but we still have room to move around
Variety of exercises – I’ve used the TRX before during solo training sessions at the gym, but I still learned a few new awesome moves for squats and lunges! My new favorite – the suspended side lunge (one leg in the strap, other leg on the floor)
My only con was that I wished the intructor provided more modifications for the movements – to me, the great thing about the TRX is that you can easily make a move harder or easier by changing the length of the straps or the angle of your body, and a quick explanation and demo of that in the beginning of class would have made this class more beginner friendly :)

So, would I go back to this studio? In a heartbeat.  Lavabarre classes made it easy and fun for me to get some cross-training in! I’d love to go back to try their cycle class and of course, more #barre.

Hanson’s Richmond Week 1 (30 miles)

Hey friends! Hope you had an awesome weekend.  We spent most of ours indoors due to the heat – is it just me, or is it just a little hotter this year that it has been in the past? We did go to the Falls Church farmers market on Sat after my run – we picked up some delicious pizza and a great jar of habanero pickles.  Pickles and pizza!0716161211_HDRDinner that night was pretty great too – I made us poke bowls using this recipe for the soy-wasabi marinade and mayo sriracha sauce, and topped them with avocado, cucumbers, radish slices, and salmon roe mmmm.0716161728_HDR

Richmond Marathon Training: Week 1

As I mentioned last week, I’m training for Richmond in November using the Hanson Marathon Method, with some modifications to customize the plan to my needs. More details on that here.  This was a solid week of training, and my first 30 mile week this year! So thankful that the hamstring injury and sleep issues from the first half of the year are behind me and running feels GOOD again.
plan part 1
Mon: 10 X 400 meters on the treadmill – Whew, this was a tough one. The goal was to run intervals from an 8:00-8:24 pace, with 400 meter jogging recoveries in between. I did a mile warm-up from 5.4-6.0, then started my intervals at 1.0 incline and 7.1-7.3 speed with the prescribed 400 meters recovery (mostly walk, a little jog). After five of these, I lowered the incline to 0 and did my next five intervals at 7.4-7.6 speed, and followed it all up with a 1 mile cool-down. I was able to hit the slower end of the prescribed paces, but my recoveries were mostly walking instead of a slow jog, so I have a ways to go. In case you’re curious, I use this treadmill hill conversion chart to determine what speeds to hit to meet the required paces.  Core work afterwards.

Tue: Lavabarre again! I can tell all the little muscles in my legs are starting to get stronger, and I’m excited to have healthy legs/knees heading into marathon training this year :)

Wed:4 miles outside (9:58 pace) – I used this run to break in my new pair of Hoka Clifton 2s and it looks like I’m going to love them as much as the originals – my feet felt really comfortable the whole time.  Core work in the afternoon.0711161940a_HDR

Thurs: 3 miles race pace (5 total) outside – I did a one mile warmup, and then eased into my race pace (goal 9:09), determined not to go out too fast like last time. I hit my first mile in 9:02 and felt pretty good, and went on to finish the race pace miles with an average of 9:04. I had to take a short break during the second and third miles because my heart rate was too high (I think it’s the humidity/heat) but otherwise felt pretty good. Cooldown mile and then a short strength routine at home.

Fri: rest day – did some light yoga (yin yoga for hamstrings and hips felt great) and core work

Sat: 10 miles with Pacers (10:33 pace) – the plan called for 8 miles, but based on the trail they sent out, I realized 10 miles would be a better turning around point, so I decided to do that and cut Sunday’s mileage.  We ran from Daingerfield Marina down the Mt Vernon trail and across the Woodrow Wilson bridge, with optional mileage down to National Harbor.  Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 12.50.55 PMThis was actually one of my best long runs in a while, thanks in part to the flatter course! I was also happy that I made it across the bridge, because there was this awesome little park up there that I wouldn’t have found otherwise:0716160808_HDR0716160808a_HDR
Such a great confidence-building run! I followed it up with some core work in the afternoon.

Sun: 4 easy miles on the T/M (10:35 pace) – I cut my planned 6 down to match the weekly mileage on the plan. I didn’t have the motivation to run in the morning, so I did the run on the treadmill in the afternoon. Whatever works! Followed by a short strength training session at home.

Friday Faves (7/15/16)

Hi friends! TGIF to you all – it’s hot, humid and I’m ready for a weekend filled with running and cold watermelon. Before I check out, I’m sharing some of my favorite fitness/food/other finds around here lately that you might like too!

Kind Nuts & Spices bars
I’ve always been a big fan of Kind bars but only recently discovered their Nuts & Spices line, which includes flavors like Caramel Almond and Sea Salt, Cashew and Ginger Spice, Dark Chocolate Almond Mint, and Black Truffle Almond Sea Salt. After getting a little burnt out on the sweetness of Larabars, I was intrigued by the low sugar content (all bars have 5 grams of sugar or less), high protein and interesting flavor profiles, so I picked up a variety pack and bought other flavors when I saw them at CVS and other stores. Here are the ones I tried and liked:
Dark Chocolate Almond Mint (pictured below) – mint is pretty subtle but adds a refreshing note against the chocolate
Maple Glazed Pecan and Sea Salt – maple+pecan = fall to me, this was such a tasty bar
Caramel Almond and Sea Salt – another great one, and it doesn’t get as messy as the bars containing chocolate in the summertime
Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt – tastes like a crunchy dessert, can’t go wrong with this one
Black Truffle Almond with Sea Salt – the truffle oil and sea salt are a really interesting blend against the sweetness of the honey and other sweet ingredients – a true salty/sweet bar

Enjoyed in the car after a hiking trip!

I’ve liked all of the ones I’ve tried, with the exception of the dark chocolate cinnamon pecan above, but I’m not a fan of cinnamon combined with chocolate in general. It might have been better as a peanut butter/honey/cinnamon? Take it back to the Kind labs!

Athleta Chi tanks
After years of searching, I have finally found my perfect workout tank top – the Chi tank from Athleta. The fabric is soft and comfortable, the high-low hem is really figure-flattering, and the fit is perfect – loose enough not to cling to my sides/stomach, but doesn’t slide down towards my head during downward dog.  I wear them for running, barre, yoga, lifting weights – everything.
1130152010aIt’s easy to tell when I like a piece of clothing because I go out and buy it in all the colors, and true to form, I own six of these already! Pro tip: to save money, I buy them off Ebay in new or used in good condition or on sale at Athleta.  It helps to buy one from the company first to determine your size, and Athleta offers free shipping on returns/exchanges in case you don’t get it right the first time.0709162110_HDR
Burts Bees Hibiscus tinted lip balm
Another Birchbox win! I didn’t think much of this lip balm when I opened it up, but have found myself reaching for it nearly every morning. It has great color payoff for a lip balm, looks really natural, but feels really light and moisturizing – perfect for summer!

Paprika Recipe App
I’ve been using Evernote for the last couple of years to store random notes, shopping/packing lists and recipes, but when I found out that they were going to change their business model and I would have to pay a yearly fee, I decided to hunt around to see what other recipe managers out there. Evernote has a lot of awesome features, but the web clipper isn’t great for recipes; it just pulls in the entire webpage, which could include ads, lots of blog text, comments, etc.

A quick search led me to Paprika, and after trying the trial version, I forked over $25 for the desktop version and app – the first is better to clip lots of recipes and do the heavy lifting of tagging and sorting, and I use the latter while cooking.paprika1The recipe clipper works so seamlessly – it pulls in the ingredients and directions from any type of recipe page, whether its a recipe site or blog post and leaves out the extraneous text.
There are a lot of other great features, like weekly meal planning (just pull the recipe onto the day you want) and grocery list builder – I can tell I’m going to be using this app for a long time.
Cats of Instagram
Whenever I’m having a bad day or just need a reason to smile (or squeal), I go to the Cats of Instagram feed for gems like the picture below.  The cuteness…I can’t even.  Why won’t our cats wear costumes!??
Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 7.54.00 PM
And with that, I leave you to your weekend! Mine starts this afternoon after work with a paddleboarding session with a friend :)

Richmond Marathon Plan (Part 1)

My marathon training cycle for Richmond started this past Monday (yay!!!), and I’m doing something different with my training plan post this time around; I’ve realized that I tend to change my training plan quite a lot during a marathon training cycle (due to injury, work taking over, needing to adjust when I run), so my published training plan very quickly becomes obsolete. So for this cycle, I’m going to talk about my training plan in 4 segments – weeks 1-5 (build-up), weeks 6-10 (speedwork), weeks 11-15 (strength), and weeks 16-18 (taper and race)- and try to stick to a current segment’s schedule as much as possible, and save any major adjustments for the next segment.

I’m following Hanson’s marathon training plan loosely (more about how I adjusted it below)- I attempted it last year and aborted my marathon attempt around week 6, but found that my body responded well overall to running 6 days a week. I think I’ll be successful at completing the plan this time because I’m building off of 6 solid weeks of base-building (vs. going from nearly 0 miles to marathon training last year – not smart). Here we go!

Richmond Marathon Training Plan: Weeks 1-5

plan part 1

The Hanson Marathon Method only has two levels of plans – beginner and advanced – and I find that my skill level/desired mileage falls somewhere in between, so I adjusted difficulty and mileage to customize the plan for myself, while still sticking with their workout schedule and general concept of fatiguing the legs for the long runs. Here’s how I’ve customized the first couple of weeks:

1. Overall mileage – the beginner plan starts at 10 miles, while the advanced jumps from 26 to 41 in the first week, so I adjusted easy mileage (basically Tues/Weds/Sun runs) to start at about 30 miles and limit mileage increases to less than 10% each week to prevent injury.
2. Speedwork – the beginner plan doesn’t call for speedwork in the first 5 weeks, but I happen to like speedwork and have been doing it already, so I added in the speedwork from the advanced plan.
3. Race pace runs – the beginner plan also doesn’t include race pace runs in the first 5 weeks, but jumps directly from 5 miles (and then to 8) in the next segment. Similarly, the advanced plan doesn’t include these runs in the first two weeks, but jumps directly to 6 mile race pace runs in week 3. Personally, I find those jumps pretty daunting, so I added in race pace runs starting from 3 miles working my way up to 6.  I’ll continue in this linear fashion through the next segments, till I reach 10 mile race pace runs (the highest both plans go).
4. Long runs – I pulled my long runs from the advanced plan, since the beginner plan starts at 4 miles (and I’m already running 8-10 miles for my long run).  I also moved my long runs from Sunday to Saturday so I can do them with my running group.
5. Timed 5K – I added in a timed 5K in the fourth week because Hanson’s paces are based off of a recent race, and I haven’t raced at all since last year! I couldn’t find a race that suited my location/date/time, so I’ll be doing a timed run using my Garmin.

I’m pretty flexible about adjusting my training each week – my goals are to run the mileage prescribed for the week and never run back-to-back workouts (at least one day easy running or rest between speed, race pace, and long runs).  I’ll report back with how my training is going in weekly workout logs, much like I’ve been doing every Monday for the past 2 months. Wish me luck :D

Week 1 Training Log

{Workout Log} July 4-10, 28 miles

Hi friends! Writing to you after a low-key weekend here. It was so hot that we only ventured outside to food shop, go to the movies and church :)

My mint plant has been growing with such enthusiasm that I snipped a few stalks to make #mintjuleps on Friday night
Kind and Kashi bars for work/hiking snacks and a big bottle of lemon verbena cleaner concentrate from a Target trip after my long run!
I’m convinced the perfect recovery activity after a long run is an afternoon at the movies. We went right around lunchtime so I got a hot dog, Mike got chicken fingers, and popcorn to share. Along with the water bottle and chips in my purse because #asian haha

Last Week’s Workouts

Mon: ~2 miles (aborted Freedom 5K) – I drove up to Fairfax on Monday morning for my first race of the year, but as excited as I was, I realized very quickly that my legs were lead after all the activities of the weekend (hiking, long run, lots of walking).  My first mile was pretty speedy at 8:46, but my legs realllly slowed down and I ran about another half mile at an 10:00+ pace.  That’s when I decided it just wasn’t worth it for me to push through, so I called it quits and walked/jogged back to the car.  I’ll be smarter about resting my legs before my next race.

Tue: Lavabarre (review coming soon)! We did tons of core work in this class and I was sore that evening and all the next day.

Wed: 3 mile tempo run (9:02 pace) – My goal was to run 3 miles at my desired marathon race pace (~9:10), but as soon as I stepped outside and felt the humidity and heat – 76 degrees at 5:45 AM! – I knew it was going to be a challenge.  I did a 1 mile warm-up, then settled into my tempo, aiming for a hard but comfortable pace.  I only looked at my watch when I was close to finishing the first mile, and was shocked to see a sub-9 pace, given the weather conditions.  I kept pushing through, stopping to drink water in the 2nd mile, and slowed my pace to ensure I would have something in mile 3.  Mile 3 was tough and I stopped a bunch of times to slow my heart rate down, but I got it done.  Paces – 8:50, 9:06, 9:10.  1 mile cooldown afterwards and planks in the evening.

Thurs: 6 miles easy on T/M (9:58 pace) – I tried this run outside in the morning and the humidity just about destroyed me, so I decided to try it again in the afternoon after work on the treadmill.  I had just a little over an hour to workout and shower when I got home because we had small group, so I jumped on the treadmill downstairs and kept my pace on the “faster easy” side. TV wasn’t working, so I turned on the dance playlist on Spotify and did 2 miles easy (5.4-6.0 pace), 2 miles with small hills (30 sec-1 min incline of 1 to 3, followed by at least 1 min recovery), and 2 miles with short burst of speed (30 sec-1 min increase to 6.2-6.8, followed by at least 1 min recovery). Not the most interesting run of the week, but I got them done :)

Fri: Rest day! I did this easy yoga video and a short core workout.

Sat: 10 miles w/ Pacers (11:30 pace) – this was a HOT and humid run, and I almost didn’t show up, knowing how hot it would be – but I told myself that learning to run in tough conditions would make me that much stronger.  It wasn’t too bad when we started (some shade, mid-70s), but the temps quickly climbed into the 80s and I was really struggling in the sun, especially in the 2nd half of the run.  My running buddy was out, so I focused on my running form and took a short water break every mile or half mile.  I filled my pack with ice and water with some Gatorade (for electrolytes and calories), and took a gu at the halfway point, and given the conditions, I actually felt this run went pretty well.  I know that slow pace in the heat will translate to speedy miles in the fall! Short core workout in the afternoon.

This pack was empty by the end of the run

Sun: 5 miles easy (10:05 pace) – Nice and cool weather for this run, not too bad!

How are you dealing with the heat where you live?

Summer Book Roundup #1

I’m bringing you my first book round-up of the year! These are some of the books I’ve read in recent months that you might enjoy.

book collage

Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling)
I’ve been on a big detective/mystery kick lately and really liked the first three books of this mystery series (Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm, and Career of Evil). It’s set in current-day Britain, and the main character is a private detective who lost a leg in the war and is struggling to pay the rent until he gets looped into his first big case. The intelligent and attractive Robin Ellacott accepts a job as his secretary and ends up staying despite the low pay because she loves the work. It’s fun to follow their adventures together, and the cases are gruesome and engrossing.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Oh my goodness, this book. I didn’t realize it wasn’t a true story until I looked it up afterwards, but it’s so well-written and the main character feels so real. It’s about a Harvard professor and linguistics expert that develops early-onset Alzheimer’s, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the choices she made and interesting coping mechanisms she developed and what I would do in her situation. I couldn’t stop talking about it with Mike at bedtime, which is always the sign of an interesting book :)

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
Do you love The Mindy Project? Go read this book. It’s self-deprecating, light-hearted and funny – everything a comedienne’s memoir should be.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
I know everyone loved this book, but it wasn’t for me. I think it’s just that I’m not that into historical fiction =\ Read it anyway!

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce
This is a beautiful follow-on to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Joyce’s debut novel.  If you love stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things or coping with difficult circumstances, read these.

Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner
I’m pretty partial to well-written and fun chick-lit with good character development, so basically anything by Jennifer Weiner or Sophia Kinsella, so I knew I would read this book when it came out. It’s a love story of two very different people that meet each other again and again at different stages of their lives – not my favorite of Weiner’s books, but entertaining and worth the read.

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach
Mary Roach is a popular science writer that latches onto fascinating and weird topics – her other books have included Stiff (the various adventures of donated cadavers) and Gulp (strange anecdotes and studies about eating and digestion). This book is about the interesting challenges that the space program has had to overcome and weird stories from space. Highly recommend if you like popular science or want to learn some interesting facts!

N or M? by Agatha Christie
Like I said, I love mysteries so I’ve read nearly all of AC’s books. I discovered her Tommy and Tuppence series last year, which follows the spying and detective adventures of, well, Tommy and Tuppence. The two main characters are so plucky and resourceful that you can’t help but root for them.

The Martian by Andy Weir
You’ve all seen the movie, right? Right?? I loved the movie (starring Matt Damon), which centers around astronaut Mark Watney, who is accidentally stranded on Mars and needs to invent creative ways to survive until he is rescued. The book is more of the same, and I really enjoyed reading the geeky descriptions of his MacGyver-solutions to surviving on a hostile planet and getting to know the likeable Mark Watney a little better.

Currently on my Kindle – Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, Pretty Girls by Karen Slaughter, Running with the Kenyans by Adharanand Finn, and Sidetracked (Kurt Wallander series, book 4).

What are you reading lately/have you read recently?