The Challenge

Who said marriage can be bad for your health? I’ve had a few not so great weeks with the workouts. I did something to my toe. Not sure what I did exactly, but I think I may have dislocated it by dropping something heavy on it (for the millionth time). I managed to snap it back into place (ouch!) but running is out for a bit until it finally heals. I haven’t been completely slacking off.  I did the next obvious thing and switched over to the bike and was still doing weights. It was going great until “Daycare’s Revenge” hit in the form of a stomach bug followed by a monster cold. Thanks to Bissy Tea, the stomach bug was fairly easy to overcome. This cold (which I still have) is not so easy to get rid of.  I was in bed for about 24 hours and going positively nuts on Saturday when The Hubs suggested going for walk. Just a mile total: down the hill to the store and back home. Seemed like a simple plan at the time. So, we walked down to the store and back. Then my husband informed me that we would be also be lifting weights and putting in another mile’s worth of cardio.

The Hubs and I have a healthy competition of sorts going on. If he suggests some kind of workout I figure if he can do it then I can do it. If he’s up to it then so am I. If I suggest a workout, he won’t say no because if I can do it then he can do it. It probably sounds ridiculous, but it works for us. Thanks to the cold from hell, I knew I didn’t have another hour of working out in me so I decided to cheat the system and suggest we just do a half hour cardio sculpt video with weights.  I figured it was a 2-in-1 cheat and it wouldn’t be that hard anyways. WRONG!!! The Hubs and I were pouring sweat when it was done, but for 60 glorious minutes (total roundtrip + workout) I could breathe. Less than 10 minutes after that I couldn’t breathe again, but that window of actual air in my lungs felt amazing!!

While I was relaxing my sore muscles and slowly losing the ability to breathe again, The Hubs proposed a challenge. We would do various 30 – 45 minute online video workouts together every day for 7 days.  Since we got rid of cable and watch most of our TV through the PC input, it’s easier to get access to all the fitness stuff available online.  (There’s way more than I ever imagined!)  So, we started on Sunday and we’ve been going strong so far.  The Hubs even completed one workout after a super long work day and getting in late after grad school.  (He’s awesome!)  I keep thinking that I would love to join a boot camp workout group, but honestly I don’t have that kind of time window available in my schedule right now unless someone has a Ustream Bootcamp channel I should know about.  I have no idea what the end game of this 7 day workout challenge is, but it’s our fun for now idea.  I’m sure next week we’ll come up with something else ludicrous, but it will likely be to the tune of “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better!”

“Excuse me, What is that in your cup?!”

Chia Seeds

I drink a LOT of water. I’m not a big fan of soda and I water down juice because I think it’s too sweet. My best friend (The Bestie) laughs at me for drinking juice like a kid, but my mom always watered it down when I was a kid and I guess I just never really got the taste of it full strength. When you drink as much water as I do, you tend to start adding things to the water to make it more interesting. I used to add lemon, then when I was pregnant the acid would make me sick. The memory of the taste and the feeling still lingers for some odd reason so now I can’t drink lemon in water.

When I was pregnant, I found out about Barefoot Running and Chia Seeds through Christopher McDougall, the author of Born to Run. He explained that one of the secrets of the Tarahumara’s endurance was Chia Seeds. I am definitely someone that will try anything. So, I searched on the internet and ordered a bag online. (Of course now they’re in the Natural/Organic section of just about any supermarket so it makes it easier to pick up.) I decided to be careful and wait until after I was pregnant to try the Chia Seeds since I just didn’t want to take any chances with The Kid. Instead, I started researching it and used The Hubs as the test subject. The Hubs said he definitely felt a difference on days he had Chia before a run vs. days he didn’t. He just had more gas in the tank. I was amazed that there was so much information out there on this little seed and I’d never heard of it before.

Chia Seeds in Water

The most interesting claim I found was flax seeds which everyone was eating whole weren’t in a form that the body could break down. Seriously? Do you know how much flax I ate? The antioxidants and nutrients in the Chia Seeds was easily available since the seed coat breaks down when you soak them in water. Once you see the gel come out (and they look like alien eggs) you can get all the nutrients without having to grind them. And considering the flax seeds had to take up residence in the refrigerator because they could go bad and lose their nutritive value, I jumped on the Chia Bandwagon quickly because space is always at a premium in my fridge.

Now I put chia in my water daily partly because I know it’s good for me and partly because I like the texture. Okay… it’s mostly because I like the texture. I usually have water in my cup so I have to find ways to keep it interesting. You can make the gel and add a few tablespoons of gel to your water, but I just shortcut it and put about a 1/8 – 1/4 cup of the Chia seeds in my 24 oz water cup in the morning let it sit for while I’m drinking my coffee so the seeds release the gel then keep refilling it with water as needed until I get home. There’s enough Chia to last all day and FYI, it looks crazy. I have had people stop me in the hall at work and ask what is in my cup. People who like bubble tea with the tapioca balls in the bottom say the texture is close to that. Of course I drink it with a straw which helps. If you’re really not into the whole texture thing, then Chia seeds are perfect in smoothies. That way you get all the nutritional benefits and no seeds. Oh… and no people looking at you sideways when they see you walking by with your cup in hand.

Barefoot Running? Who could have predicted?

I’ve always had a difficult relationship with running.  The Hubs has been trying to get me to run with him so we could become a running couple, but every time I tried it, I hated it.  Then, when I was pregnant, I was listening to NPR.  They did an interview with Christopher McDougall, the author of Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.  There was something about the way he talked about barefoot running and the  Tarahumara Indians and Chia Seeds that was truly captivating.  I called The Hubs immediately and told him to buy the book and download the podcast and listen to it! Of course he didn’t… As we all know, life gets in the way of good intentions and I forgot to remind him and he forgot to download the podcast. (In his defense, his slightly nutty pregnant wife called him in the middle of the work day raving about something while he was trying to finish a project.)  At the time, the hubs was trying to get his running mojo back.  He snapped his Achilles tendon at the height of his running prowess and had been working his way back (clawing his way back) to that mile time.  Christopher McDougall spoke about how he too had almost given up on running because of an injury no one but a podiatrist could have diagnosed until he found out about barefoot running.  It just seemed like a story the Hubs could vibe with.

The Hubs' Vibrams

Eventually, worlds collided and the Hubs heard about Born to Run from another source.  He bought the book and was as captivated as I was by Christopher McDougall.  He found out that McDougall was giving a speech at a Penn State Campus not too far from us and we decided to go.  Despite the fact that I was pregnant, feeling huge and ran the chance of falling asleep in the middle of the lecture hall.  (I had a hilariously early unintentional bedtime when I was pregnant.  I would think I was going to stay up, but I’d just pass out.) McDougall was wearing Vibrams and no one even noticed until he pointed them out.  The black ones can go completely unnoticed.  That night, The Hubs went home and tried barefoot running and LOVED IT!  He ordered a pair of Vibrams and after an appropriate transition period, started  running “barefoot” and even got me to do it once I had my body to myself again.  The Vibrams give you more protection that you would have if the skin on your foot was actually coming into contact with the pebbles and what not you run over.  They are by the way also great for hiking.  We wore them when we went to Torrey Pines with Buff in San Diego and they made going over the terrain and walking back through the sand MUCH easier!  We even convinced Buff to get a pair!

My Vibrams

Barefoot Running is not something you just jump into.  It requires a transition period if you’ve been running in padded sneakers.  When I used to run, it sounded like Godzilla coming to wreck the town.  The Hubs used to marvel that if he put his hand on my head, he could actually feel the rumble of the impact of my steps as I walked.  One of the many things you have to learn in your transition to Barefoot Running is how to land on the balls of your feet so that you don’t rocket the impact of your entire weight coming down on your heel and straight back up your through your joints.  It takes time to learn how to do that instead of just coming down on your heels like you can in sneakers.  I used to have TERRIBLE shin splints, hurt knees and you name it when I ran in sneakers.  I all but gave up on the idea of me ever running.  Thanks to Barefoot Running in Vibrams it hurts much less to run.  I’m actually finding that I LIKE running…. okay, I love it now.  I guarantee I would have never gotten here without barefoot running.  And it looks like The Hubs may get his dream of us being a running couple afterall.

Empty Nesters

For all the years we’ve lived in our house, there has been a duck couple that visits the yard to splash around in our pool in the month before we open it. Every year, they splash around early in the morning for about a month, then we open the pool for the season and we don’t see them any more.  This year, they decided to stick around longer than usual, then a couple weeks ago we saw the male duck alone and thought there may have been a divorce, but it seems we were in for a surprise.  Ever since I learned that ducks eat slugs, I have wanted to have some as pets.  I hate slugs!  They reproduce at a ridiculous rate and leave ugly trails on my veggies… and they’re slugs.  I’ve tried all the usual methods to get rid of them, beer traps (who has the time to refill and empty them daily), copper strips (way too expensive) and have settled on slug bait which is supposed to work even after it rains.  I’d still prefer a much more satisfying method of removing them from the yard than just having the slugs stop eating and disappear.  Every year when the ducks showed up, I would hope that they’d stick around for a while to help whittle down the slug population, but every year, they flew away and I was left on my own to deal with the slugs.


Recently, The Hubs joined a running club that runs super early on the weekends.  So, while he was doing one of their runs, I took The Kid for a 3-mile walk around the neighborhood to keep him entertained.  It was supposed to be just 2 miles, but then I realized I forgot to ask The Hubs to buy a paper on his way and he’s usually way too sweaty for stores after running.  It felt like a big hassle to take The Kid out of the stroller and get the pocketbook then load up the car so we just walked to the store to get the paper too.  When I got back to the house the first time to get change out of my car for the paper, I leaned down to straighten some fava bean plants that fell over.  All of a sudden there was flapping about a foot away from my face and a blur flew by me.  I screamed way too loud for 8am on a weekend morning and backed up with The Kid.  I saw a lady duck flying away and looked down to see a nice collection of eggs where she was sitting.  It took me a minute to figure out how I missed her, then it seemed really obvious why the female birds all look like dirt and the male birds who don’t have to hide with the eggs have the bright colors.

I was so happy about my new little duck family and checked on them (from afar) almost daily. Unfortunately, about a week later, I went to check on my little friend and she was gone and so were her eggs.  I’m guessing the eggs became dinner for one of the neighborhood animals.  The good and bad thing about our neighborhood is that there is a diversity of wildlife.  There’s never a dull moment with the hawks, cranes, blue jays,  outdoor cats, etc.  preying on the ducks, frogs, woodpeckers, finches, hummingbirds, etc.  I won’t even get into the madness of the insect populations.  I was at least fortunate that I have been spared explaining the nature cycle to The Kid, but I’m going to have to come up with something better than, “Well, birds eat birds.”  That’s probably not going to cut it.  Well, it looks like I won’t be growing my duck family this year as I hoped, but hopefully my duck familly will return again next year and chose a better hiding spot for their babies so we can try this again.  I need a duck army to defeat the empire the slugs are trying to build in my yard.