Did I Start Training Too Early and What’s With the Sweet Potato Fries?

sweet potato friesApparently I started training earlier than I need too. In truth I would have started in December whether I realized that or not. I tend to be a bit of a worrier and I would have been thinking about the longer distances. Now I have a pretty good base on which to start building.

Is it high mileage? No but I’d rather train smart for my first marathon. Saturday was another 7 mile run with my teammates. I kept an even pace and felt pretty good afterward. I felt it was my own pace or a tiny bit slower than usual. I run into problems when my pace feels too fast.

I was crazy hungry though after running. I took my own advice and had a small protein and carbohydrate snack. I then had a veggie burger, red rice and Brussels sprouts for lunch. It felt good, filling and it wasn’t full of bread. I know I need the carbs but want to stick with whole grains rather than bread. (I did have multi-grain gluten-free bread with almond butter for breakfast. One serving is enough).

I seem to have picked up a new post-run craving. I want french fries. I make my own from sweet potatoes so I don’t feel guilty about eating them. I think I’m really craving salt so I had some olives and sure enough I stopped thinking about fries.

I did make baked sweet potato fries for dinner. They are my favorite and they are full of potassium as well as beta carotene, perfect post-run food! Just slice them thin, mist with olive oil, salt, pepper & rosemary (optional) and bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Stir half-way through and keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.


Skip the Resolutions – 8 Tips How to Reach Your Goal

photo credit: creativity.trainings.ee

photo credit: creativity.trainings.ee

Many of us start the new year by making some resolutions. We vow to lose weight, exercise more, find a new job or spend more time with our family. We start the year with great intentions, but then we quickly relapse into old habits. Why is it so hard to stick to those New Year’s resolutions?

Most often the goals are either vague: I want to lose weight, or they’re unrealistic: I want to lose 20 pounds in a month. Why do you want to lose weight? What will happen if you don’t lose the weight? What is your realistic goal? Yes, I suppose you could lose 20 pounds in a month but usually those diets are not sustainable and you don’t often keep the weight off. Losing 20 pounds can be a reasonable goal but the time frame should be adjusted.

Here are some steps that can help you figure out what you really want and how to accomplish it:

  1. Write down your intentions and keep them in a visible place, like taped to your bedroom mirror or the dashboard of your car.
  2. Get very clear on what the actual goal is. You want to exercise more. How much more and for how long? Do you want to take a new class or learn a new skill?
  3. Make sure the goal is sustainable. It’s not likely that you will go from couch potato to working out 5 days a week for an hour each day. What would fit into your routine and what would you enjoy doing? If you don’t like the activity it won’t stick. You’ll find excuses to not go.
  4. Make your goal measurable. How can you track and measure your progress? For weight loss it could be pounds or it could be how your clothes fit. Exercise can be measured in time or strength. You may start out lifting lighter weights and progress to heavier ones.
  5. Get to the source of whatever is keeping you in a rut. Are you in a stressful relationship that causes you to eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s every night? Are you stressed at your job and feel too tired to exercise after work?  If you don’t tackle the root of the behavior, it will be much harder to accomplish your goal.
  6. Be clear about what your life would look like once you achieve your goal. If you resolve to go to the gym more, how will this benefit you? Can you focus on how you will feel when you accomplish this goal? Get connected to the result of your action, and you will be more likely to stick with your plan.
  7. Share your resolutions with friends and family. Hold each other accountable for achieving your goals. If you want to go to the gym more, have a friend call you two or three times a week to check on you or invite them to join you.
  8. Reward yourself with every little accomplishment. If your intention is to lose weight and you lose 1 pound a week, pamper yourself with a massage. Did you workout three or four days each week for a month? Go get some new workout clothes that let you see your new muscles.

Big changes do not require big leaps. Permanent change is more likely to happen gradually than through one big restrictive plan. Allow yourself to climb the ladder one rung at a time.

Want more ideas on how to incorporate change to reach your goals? Send me an email, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, and I’d be happy to set up a strategy session with you.

Sometimes a Head Clearing Run is All You Need

cropped-running-with-dog1.jpgSaturday’s run was okay. It was cold, cloudy and I was feeling stiff, despite my warm up jog to the park. Half way through our run my hamstring started hurting as did my hip. I walked a bit, pet some of the dogs that come to the park for the off-leash hours and started running again. (I particularly love the lazy blonde lab who just waits for belly rubs). I was able to finish the seven miles with minor discomfort.

I skipped running Sunday since the hamstring was sore when I walked to church. I ended up baking, cleaning and doing some work instead. While it wasn’t especially relaxing I got a lot accomplished! I figured I’d switch my day to Monday instead.

Today I woke up in a crabby mood. I’m not sure why but I felt kind of tired and achy. I considered skipping my run again but decided to give a go. It was exactly what I needed. It cleared the crankiness away and I felt strong running.

I made some energy bites today to have on hand when I need a snack. They’re filling, a little sweet and a mix of protein and carbs; they also keep me from picking on Christmas cookies. I use the recipe from Gimme Some Oven and adapt with whatever I have on hand

What is your go to healthy snack?

How do you get rid of a case of the crankiness?

Eat the Dessert! (or whatever it is that makes a holiday special to you)

chocolatecakeI was at a meeting the week after Thanksgiving and one of members told me I would be proud of him. He skipped all of the appetizers and dessert as his family dinner and stuck with the meal. Slightly horrified I asked him if he felt deprived? He said no, not at all and he really enjoyed the food that he ate.

So why was I horrified? Because skipping dessert would have left me feeling deprived. But I quickly realized that’s me, not him. He would have felt deprived if he didn’t eat his favorite foods during the meal itself. I get that.

No matter how much a holiday is really about family and relationships we have memories through foods as well. My feeling on this is to enjoy the holiday in what ever way that means for you. Not in love with dessert? Skip it. Can’t wait for the pie or cookies? Go for it. Mom’s lasagna is the best thing you’ve ever eaten? Savor it.

My two tips are: 1) Enjoy your food and stop when you are full. 2) Resist the temptation of taking leftovers home or keeping those tempting foods in the house if you are the one cooking. The 26th is a new day and time to go back to your healthy eating plan.

Some sites that I enjoy for healthy treats are:

Looking to lose a few pounds and gain more energy in 2015? I can help you with an easy plan that works for you and your busy life. Email me, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, to set up a strategy session.

Marathon Training Started!

With my team. I'm in the back row, red hat.

With my team. I’m in the back row, red hat.

Rather than start another blog dedicated to running I’m adding on to my current blog. I usually post my regular Empowered Plate entries on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, the running entries will post on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.

Marathon training started last week. It’s funny to say that I’m running a full marathon. I hated running in school and I wasn’t athletic. I like roller skating, riding my bike and dance but team sports and running not so much. Now in my mid-forties I’m running half-marathons and training for a full. If it’s a mid-life crisis at least it’s a healthy one.

I’m following a plan for beginners and mileage is low right now. On one hand I think, “this is too low” and on the other hand I think “better enjoy this now!” The first 2 weeks are 5 – 6 miles. I figured I’d stick with the higher end but last week I wasn’t feeling well and the pace I was running at didn’t feel good.

I thought well, I’ll run/walk and end at 5. Then I lost a mitten and I love those mittens because they peel back to fingerless gloves. Even my thumb can pop out.,so  back through the park to find it and I ended up running another 2 miles. Now I know when training is hard to drop something that I have to run back for. (I’m kidding, mostly).

The second long run was much better. I was having my fund-raiser that night and the people I run with were all coming. It was cold with a sharp wind and no one wanted to feel rotten that night so we agreed to stop at 5. I was feeling good so after I got home I ran another mile. I felt fine that night and I raised a nice amount of money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Today’s recovery run felt good too. I know to enjoy these days, I’m all too aware of the crappy running days. I had enough of them over the summer with many days of wondering why in hell I wanted to run in the first place. I want to enjoy the journey as well as the actual marathon. I have a feeling I’m going to have re-read this post a few times.

What gets you through tough training days?



Eating at the Mall? Skip this Burger!

Photo: Carl Jr's

Photo: Carl Jr’s

One of today’s emails boasted on how a major fast food restaurant was adding a natural grass-fed burger to its menu. Carl Jr.’s, which is not anywhere near my house, is offering the burger which clocks in at 750 calories and 44 grams of fat. Not exactly health food.

While I’m a fan of grass-fed hormone free beef this burger has cheese, mayo, sugary ketchup and a white flour bun which takes away from the healthier aspects.

It can be hard when you’re out all day to try to find a quick healthy choice that tastes good and fills you up. Especially if you’ve been out all day holiday shopping and can’t quite deal with the thought of going home and cooking. There are a couple of choices you can take.

  • Bring healthy snacks with you so you don’t have to worry about finding food. At the very least, carry a bottle of water so you don’t get dehydrated.
  • Look in advance at your choices and figure out what you enjoy that’s a healthy choice. Have one or two backups in case lines are long. Places like Panera have their “secret” healthy menu, take advantage of it.
  • Leave the mall and go somewhere else to eat. Why I like this: it’s less hectic and you’ll feel more relaxed when you sit down.

If you do just want a snack stay away from empty calories, frozen yogurt offers sugar and not much else in the way of nutrition. I pop into drug-store or deli type store and buy a Larabar or a plain Greek yogurt and a piece of fruit. I also like a small plain cappuccino or latte with a sprinkle of cinnamon and cocoa if you’re jonesing for a coffee treat. It has protein and some fat (get the 2% or whole milk choice) to keep you full without all the sugar.

What are your strategies for making better choices when the selection is limited?

What is your favorite food stop in your mall?

Need help in making better food choices all around? Email me, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, to schedule a strategy session. Together we can come up with a plan that works for you.

Chocolate Cranberry Green Smoothie

2014-07-22 13.13.05Need a quick and energizing pick me up? This tastes way better than it looks and it uses seasonal produce. I don’t love the taste of fresh cranberries on their own but they are tasty when blended with a smoothie! This is an excellent superfood smoothie!

Chocolate Cranberry Green Smoothie

  • 2 large red kale leaves (or any kale leaves)
  • 1/2 c fresh cranberries (or frozen
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 medium banana
  • 2 Tbs raw cacao
  • 1.5 tsp maca
  • 1 Tbs greens powder
  • 1 c water
  • 1/2 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or add another 1/2 c water)
  • ice

Rip kale into pieces, discard hard stem. Add ingredients to blender and top with water & almond milk. Blend until smooth.

Why is this so healthy? Cranberries, kale, maca and cacao are all considered superfoods and have a ton of nutrients. It’s a powerhouse of nutrition.

Cranberries are a very good source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and manganese, as well as a good source of vitamin E, vitamin K, copper, and pantothenic acid. They are anti-inflammatory and offer anti-oxidant.

Kale is an excellent source of vitamin K, A and C plus has manganese, copper, vitamin B6, fiber, calcium, iron, magensium, vitamins E, B1, B2 and B3, folate, protein and Omega 3 fatty acids. It is also high in anti-oxidants and is anti-inflammatory.

Cacao has magnesium, iron, cromium, Phenethylamine (PEA) – the adrenal-related chemical that we produce in our bodies when we fall in love, vitamin C, tryptohpan, seratonin, manganese and zinc. It too has a host of anti-oxidants.

Maca – An ancient Mayan superfood rich in plant sterols and a good source of iron, magnesium, selenium, and calcium.


Getting Back on Track

e_may_photo_1I’ve gained some weight and I am not happy. It feels embarrassing to admit it since I know what to eat and what to do. Sometimes stress does get the better of me, I’ve been sitting more than usual and I’ve been hungrier than usual. I’m sure I could have made some better choices along the way as well.

It’s not a big amount and I can get rid of it; I have the tools and knowledge. Yes, it’s a challenging time of year with parties and holidays but it can be done in a way where I know I won’t feel deprived. It helps to remember that while some of the food is amazing at these parties often times it’s not something that you can’t get during the rest of the year. If it’s not special and amazing why bother?

Two other things that are going to help: Marathon training started yesterday and I’m getting a digital Smart Scale that tracks weight, body fat, muscle mass and body water. It will sync my stats to My Fitness Pal so I can track everything in one place without writing everything down.To be honest it sounds a bit intimidating but  will keep me honest if nothing else. (Stats and numbers are simply information, they don’t define who or what you are)

Why am I sharing this? Because life happens to all of us. I’m not perfect and I don’t expect my clients to be either. It’s good to be able to recognize that you have to reset your eating and get back on track. It’s great when you know you have the tools and the motivation so you can achieve your goals.

What are you finding challenging this season? Is there something you feel you need extra support around? You can reach me at janinemchale@empoweredplate.com to schedule a time to speak. I can consult via phone or Skype if you’re not in the NYC area..