Post by Danielle
If you recall, I had the immense privilege and pleasure of living in AZ for the month of February. It was simply perfect. I was outside as much as possible. I ran through the desert and took my dog on long walks. I hiked through both easy and difficult terrain. I loved every minute of it and miss it terribly.
And, it became increasingly clear now that I am back in cold, ice-covered Minnesota, I need to do something to keep myself moving. Besides my run, I spend my days sitting at my desk working. I can’t walk the dog very far because it is too cold and absolutely treacherous for both of us with all of the ice and compacted snow. But, those are just excuses and proof I needed some sort of motivation to get focused. I had heard about the new craze of fitness monitors and decided I wanted in on the action. So, I purchased the Fitbit Flex, pictured above. I have only had it for a few days but already I love it.
The Fitbit Flex is not the top of the line model (that is the Fitbit Force) but it is just one step down. The Flex tracks your steps, estimates your calories burned, helps to keep track of your calories taken in, records your active minutes, and monitors your sleep patterns. For people who like data on their health, the Fitbit is great.
The above two pictures are my dashboards. The first is the online dashboard that gets set up when you activate your Fitbit. The second is the app on my iPhone, which is free. You can also monitor your progress by tapping on the Flex and looking at the light indicators (see first picture – if you can make it out, there are four lights fully illuminated and the fifth is not quite bright yet. When I have met my goal for the day when all five lights are lit).
I check my iPhone dashboard multiple times throughout the day to see how I am doing on my progress. I have also started to track my food and water intake through that app, which is really easy.
You can set different goals than the ones that come standard. The goals already set are: 10,000 steps a day, 30 active minutes a day, and 5 miles a day. You can change them to whatever you want. For example, I have no problem (on the days I exercise anyway) of taking 10,000 steps and moving at least 5 miles. However, I have decided to be more focused on being active throughout the day. I have changed my goal to 60 active minutes per day and set it as the primary goal I monitor via the lights on the wrist-band. 60 minutes does not seem like much, but if I am not running very long and spending my day working, it is hard to get there.
You can add activities that might not be picked up by the Fitbit (activities that don’t have you moving your feet enough for the vibration to be felt). For example, a good workout on a bike or elliptical may not be recorded as activity on the Fitbit, but you can search for it and manually input it.
Once you reach your goal, the Fitbit vibrates and the lights do a little dance for you. The first time I hit my goal for the day it was a great little reward!
Monitoring my sleep pattern has become really interesting for me. You turn on sleep mode on the Fitbit by rapidly tapping on it until it vibrates and the lights go out. That way the Fitbit is keeping track of how much you are moving around in the night. You turn off sleep mode the same way when you are ready to get out of bed. As you can see, Saturday night I was laying in bed for 7 hours and 45 minutes. I woke up once for 4 minutes (the red line) and was restless 7 times for a total of 13 minutes. It may not seem all that bad, but I am a rock-star sleeper. Saturday night was day-light savings. I went to bed early and got up early. Normally, I sleep over 8 hours, don’t wake up, and am only restless first thing for a few minutes and right before I get up. I am really curious to see how (badly) I sleep when traveling. I don’t rest well in hotels.
The Fitbit is comfortable and water-proof. I don’t even notice it. I can even wear my watch on the same wrist. The battery is charged by plugging it into a computer but a charge lasts five days. I am charging it now because I am sitting still at my desk and have my computer on.
A couple of glitches I have noticed: when I clap my hands (like I did at the opera on Sunday) it kept turning on and off the sleep mode. That was irritating. Even though it is water-proof I have noticed some condensation building up in the wrist-band and that concerns me. I do travel a lot and will find out on Wednesday whether it can go through airport security without causing any trouble.
All in all, I highly recommend it. As this miserable winter drags on it can be hard to find the motivation to keep moving. The type of reward I feel when all five lights flash and I get green throughout my dashboard may not work for everyone, but it works for me. I park farther away from the door and have even found myself marching in place to get my feet moving.
You can create a community to keep yourself accountable through Fitbit’s website. So if any of you out there have one let me know and we can keep one another motivated!
Post by Danielle
Power bowls have become all the rage lately in the media. Restaurants are adding them to their menus. You can even find them at some ‘faster food’ joints. But, as with all new trends, it has actually been around for a while. Power bowls are a common meal for folks who pay close attention to what they put in their bodies. Done right, a power bowl can be a nutritional powerhouse.
There is a simple equation for putting together a good power bowl: a bean, a green, and a grain
Start with the green. A lettuce base usually works well as something to fill up the bowl. But don’t stop there. Eat the rainbow is my motto. That means lots of different veggies, and whole color variety.
Next a grain. I personally enjoy a serving of quinoa. But any whole grain will do (well, oatmeal may be weird). Find one you like or mix it up.
Finally a bean. I usually go for either black beans or garbonzo beans. Garbonzo beans are full of protein so a really good addition for non-meat eaters.
There you have, the simple ingredients for a power bowl. Here is the strategy for making it the easiest meal you make everyday: one day a week, cook up the grain of choice, and prep the veggies. This time of year I am all about the roasted veggies. They keep well in the refrigerator for a week. As for the beans, canned (once drained and well rinsed) work perfectly. But soaking them overnight and cooking them works just as well and is not at all labor-intensive.
A few hours of prep once a week and five minutes of put together right before you are ready to eat and you will be set for some healthy and tasty meals!
I don’t know about you but I am a person who loves rituals. I am not talking about the empty rituals so many talk about that cause people to leave worshiping communities in droves. I am talking about unique, expressive, creative, and dynamic rituals that can help me and others heal and be whole. This blog has largely been about running and food, as these are some of the primary ways that Danielle and I both express what it means to be whole and healthy. However, I think there is a deep need in our culture for rituals that can bring together the healing of psyche and spirit.
This past week I spent some time in San Francisco with the non-profit Veriditas to become a trained facilitator in labyrinth walks. I have found labyrinths to offer a creative and unique connection to both of the worlds of psyche and spirit, a connection that can be part of the way in which we live healthy lives. Here are some of the ways in which a labyrinth can be healthy and helpful:
*Brings awareness to the needs of the body and the spirit
*Offers psychological healing
*Brings mindfulness into practice
*Connects us to others on the path
*Helps us to see our lives as a journey
*Brings focus and attention
*Can help us find answers to the questions we are asking in life
*Is an act of meditation and prayer
The image of a labyrinth is that of a spiraling circle. It is not to be confused with a maze. A maze has many different entrances and exits. Plus, mazes are designed to challenge or confuse those who walk its many paths. Labyrinths are a single path and are designed to connect a person with their inner path. There is a rather helpful soundbite distinguishing the two that I find helpful. “Mazes are meant for people to lose their way and Labyrinths are meant for people to find their way.” In the end, the spiraling and circular nature of labyrinths are symbols of unity and wholeness, which is something we strive for at One Whole Step. Whether you are someone who is looking for stress relief, or someone who is seeking an answer to a question about your life’s vocation, or perhaps you are someone on a spiritual journey seeking healing from your past, the labyrinth is a tool of wholeness and healing.
If you would like to find a labyrinth near you go to http://www.veriditas.org and find the world wide labyrinth locator and enter in your location. If you would like to see more about my journey to San Francisco and the labyrinth facilitator training you can go to http://www.chadrabbott.tumblr.com.
Post by Danielle
This past weekend I ran my first half marathon in over a year. And I did it in style! I ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon at Disney World. If you have never done a Disney race, save up and do it. They are the best races I have ever done!
2013 was all about injuries for me, so I have not run long distance much at all in just about year. While I had trained for this race, I was nervous going in. I knew I could do the distance but I wanted to do it well. I was not aiming for a PR or anything, but I was aiming for a run to be proud of. But most of all, I wanted to focus on having fun. And I accomplished that!
I didn’t have time to take off of work because of a big project coming up at the end of this week, so it was a couple of night flights and a really quick weekend in Orlando. But that is okay because my best of the best friend lives in Orlando AND works for Disney, so everything was really easy.
The expo was big and fun. It was located at ESPN’s World Wide Sports Complex and was incredibly well organized. In fact, one of the best parts of a Disney race is how well organized they are. It was easy to pick up our race bibs and gear packs. There were lots of vendors at the expo and we spent about an hour walking around and doing a bit of shopping.
After the expo we checked into our resort on the Disney campus. If you plan to do a Disney race I highly recommend staying at a Disney resort. They provide complimentary transportation to and from the race, which is just wonderful.
We spent Saturday walking around Magic Kingdom, which was a blast. My first Disney experience was as a young adult so I have never experienced it as a child, but as an adult it is just as fun! We had a great time but when we made our way back to the resort for the night I realized how much my legs and right hip hurt after walking around and standing in lines all day. If I had been totally smart, or only focused on a PR, I would have stayed in all day to rest up. But I wanted to soak in a full weekend of Disney. My right hip (or groin, or some ligament/muscle connecting the two, I am not sure) has been bothering me from all of the hills I have been running and hiking on in Arizona. I was nervous about what it would mean for my race, so I took the week off before I left for Orlando.
Our alarm went off at 3am to head to the bus to the start line about 4am. I took a couple of Advil, ate a packet of peanut butter, a banana, and mini Luna bar for a bit of fuel. My first Disney race (the Wine and Dine in November 2012) was marred by digestive issues. That race started at 10pm and I learned then that I cannot run with any food in my stomach. So, I was really cautious for this race and actually pleased about the super early start time.
At a Disney race, if you are not dressed up you look ridiculous. For this race we wore home made tutus and sparkly Mickey ears. Both were surprisingly comfortable and I didn’t even notice them while running!
The bus dropped us off at Epcot for the start. There were 24,000 (!) runners, so lots of people. But all of the volunteers were simply amazing and everything was easy. There was fantastic entertainment at the start and lots of energy to get pumped up.
We were in corral L – so pretty far back, but that makes sense with the number of runners. The start was officially at 5:30am but we didn’t cross the start line until 6:30am. What I love about Disney is that they shoot off fireworks for each corral start, so it always feels special.
The course took us along the highway between Epcot and Magic Kingdom. You run through Magic Kingdom and head back to Epcot. Of course the highway was closed for the race, but that also means there is a hard time limit so they can get the highways back open. You have 3 1/2 hours to complete and if you don’t make the time cut-off at mile 8 you are picked up by a bus. At least a thousand runners don’t make the cut-off.
There was a gatorade/water stop at every mile, which I walked through. I had water at every stop and a few sips of gatorade starting at mile 4. There was energy gels at mile 8.5, which I also had. I knew I needed to take it easy, so I made sure it run slowly and steadily and walk when needed.
Another great thing about Disney races is they have entertainment all along the course. There was a high school marching band, professional kite flyers, a drumming group, two bands, a gospel choir, and lots and lots of Disney characters for you to stop and take a picture with. It was great motivation. Running through Magic Kingdom was a blast. There were lots of spectators cheering us on. We got to run through the Castle and just as I was approaching the two trumpeters that do that fun trumpet announcement song ushered me into the and through the castle. Running along the highway would have been boring if not for all of the people and energy in the crowd and entertainment along the way.
My one complaint was that the route was very narrow for most of the race and there were a number of times that I had to really slow down or even walk because of the crush of runners. But that was okay, I was always focused on just having fun.
Another ‘problem’ that I had was at about mile 6 I got incredibly hungry. In fact I was so hungry, I was eyeing a granola bar sticking out of the back of another runner’s fuel belt and scheming about how I could steal it. Don’t worry, I didn’t, and in fact put on a burst of speed to pass her to get it out of my mind!
I gave Goofy a high five as I crossed the finish line and was immediately given my finisher’s medal. Disney does medals up right. They are high quality medals that are fun and beautiful. I grabbed a bottle of water and a food box – which I immediately dug into and ate just about everything in it.
I hurt. Like really hurt. At about mile 10 my legs turned to lead and I had to do some walking. The last mile was through Epcot, and even though it was incredibly painful, there were huge crowds cheering runners on that carried me through.
It was an emotional race for me. 2013 was hard because of all the injuries and there were points leading up to the race that I was concerned I would not finish. But I did, did it in fairly decent time, and finished with a smile on my face. A few tears were shed as the medal was placed around my neck. I was proud, worked really hard, and EARNED that medal!
After a quick bus ride back to our resort, a shower and a stretch, we headed to Hollywood Studios to walk around and ride some rides. Disney encourages you to wear your medal around the parks so I did and was given lots of ‘congratulations’ by strangers. And the Disney Castmembers would say “Congratulations Princess” every time they saw you. It was great!
I highly recommend a Disney race. They are pricey, but totally worth it!
I was absolutely thrilled this week when I was going to get the opportunity to fly to San Francisco for a training. It is more than just being excited about being on the west coast with warmer weather or even the outstanding course I will be going through. Yes, I am talking about food…..vegan food. You know, when most people think of where you can find good vegan food in the U.S., they think of places like New York City, L.A., or San Francisco. In the course of my research about places I should eat while there, I came across a restaurant named “The Plant” that was located in the airport……YES, the airport. I knew that I would have a few hours before my ride came to get me so I was thrilled when I knew I would be arriving around lunch time and could sit down at this overly vegan friendly restaurant and read and eat to my hearts delight.
Let’s face it folks, most of us walk into an airport, vegan or not, and there is rarely a good place to eat that would be remotely healthy. I spent my whole flight excited about what I would eat. Only, when I arrived in San Francisco I was dismayed to find out that my flight dropped me off in terminal 1 and that the restaurant I really wanted to eat at was in terminal 2. So, if I wanted to eat there I would actually have to buy a ticket and walk through security to get there. Of course, I am not spending hundreds of dollars just so I could eat at a vegan friendly restaurant in an airport. I was so disappointed and hungry. So, I went looking for a place where I could eat and one would think that because it is San Francisco that it would be much easier to find vegan and vegetarian fare. Nope, not so much. I finally ended up eating at a place called “Willow Creek Grill” because they had a veggie sandwich and a veggie burger. It wasn’t exactly what I was wanting, but it was food and I was hungry after 6 hours of flying. So, here are 2 tips for being vegan at the airport.
1) You will have to compromise. I know this seems obvious, especially given my experience, but if you are confined to an airport then it is what it is and you will have to eat somewhere and something that is less than ideal. There will be places where you can find a “burger” and fries or a salad or some veggies and potatoes. Is it fresh and organic and a whole foods diet? No, not likely….in fact, I would be willing to bet a good size of money that it will not be those things….and I am not a betting man. So, expect that you will have to compromise if you are in an airport and need to find a place to eat. As one of the airport employees said to me, “Well, there is always Subway.” Of course, come to find out that Subway was in a totally different terminal also. Now, you know I am not spending hundreds to get to a Subway.
2) Come prepared with your own food. I think that this might actually be one of the smarter things a vegan could do. I did bring some bananas and Clif bars with me for snacks and breakfast. But, I found myself wishing I had packed a hummus wrap or a fresh salad. Once you are in the airport there is not much you can control with the food. However, in bringing your own food, that is something you can absolutely control. Next time I am in such a situation, I will not be assuming that I will be able to find the greatest and most welcoming restaurants available to those of us that are vegan. Instead, I will come prepared.
Post by Danielle
Chad and I are careful to make sure this space is safe for people of all different beliefs. We intend for One Whole Step to be a conversation starter and place for information. However, we have always been clear that we focus on a meat-free lifestyle. Everyone has their reasons for choosing to limit or eliminate animal products in their life. I personally chose to give up meat because I placed a higher value on animal rights and welfare than I did on the convenience of eating meat. It was a decision I made when I was 12 years old and have stuck to for 18 years. I have never questioned my choice but I had an experience on the 2.5 day drive from Minnesota to Arizona that has affirmed it.
We were either in Oklahoma or Texas (after awhile the states started to blur). We were driving down a small highway through farm and ranching country. We could smell it first, that distinctive odor of a large number of animals in a confined space. Then we saw it. Acres and acres of black. Just pure black. It wasn’t until we got closer that we realized we were looking at a cattle farm. One of those large, industrialized farms. All we could see was the black of thousands of cattle confined to such a small space there was literally no room between them.
They could not lay down or turn around. The ground was pure mud and manure. The air was heavy with the smell of stagnation and death.
I gave up eating because one autumn day I drove by a small family farm that had maybe 50 ducks in the yard, each tagged around the neck. I asked my mother if those ducks were to be killed for food. She said in all likely-hood they would and I never ate meat again. But seeing that large industrial farm was so powerful and horrific, my mother (always supportive of my meat-free lifestyle but a meat-eater herself) said she was not sure if she could ever eat beef again. Indeed, our condo in AZ has had no meat in it. While not sure about what, if any, changes she is going to make moving forward, the visual impact that an industrial farm made on her was powerful.
According to Sustainable Table large corporate or industrialized farms of over 1,000 head only account for 5% of total feedlots but make up 80-90% of cattle fed (source). These large farms view animals as units of production and do not respect the fact that they are living animals. The closely contained spaces these animals live in are breeding grounds for bacteria. Furthermore, they are fed an unnatural diet and not allowed to graze. This allows disease to spread easily and therefore they are injected with increasingly high doses of antibiotics.
Slaughterhouses are required to meet USDA standards, however meat consumption has pushed for an ever increasing supply. Therefore, some slaughterhouses kill up to 2000 animals a day (source). It would be nearly impossible to follow the standards laid down by the law and no doubt thousands of animals a day are killed in cruel and painful ways.
The choices you make about your diet are entirely yours. Whether your choose to consume animal products or not is for you to decide and I would never place a value judgement on your decision. I do, however, believe it is important to be an informed consumer. If you decide to eat meat try to find out more about where it came from and the practices used to raise and slaughter it. It takes more time and effort, yes. But these are living, feeling creatures and deserve that we pay attention to their lives.
Today’s recipe is so, so, so easy but not often homemade. In preparation for a more complicated recipe I will be making tomorrow, we purchased a big bag of masa harina and I decided to use some of it up. Living in a rented condo with not a lot of ingredients to work with, I decided tortillas were the way to go.
First up, masa harina. Simply put: corn flour. Easy to find around Arizona though you may need to find a specialty store up north.
Take 2 cups of masa harina, 1 3/4 cup warm water, and 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Mix it all together and then let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
Next, knead the ‘dough’ for a bit with your finger tips until it comes together in a smooth ball.
Pinch off balls of dough and roll into golf ball sized balls. Cover with a damp towel to keep them from drying out. Next heat up a dry skillet or griddle over medium-high heat.
Place one ball between two pieces of parchment or wax paper. Using bottom of a big plate, press down until the tortilla is about 6 inches in diameter.
Cook tortillas on the hot skillet for about 30 seconds per side. Place on a plate under a warm towel to keep them fresh and warm. You can store them for a few days in a plastic bag.
There are lots of uses for corn tortillas. Tonight we are have veggie fajitas!!
It has been nearly 3 to 4 weeks since I have been able to run outside. Yes, in the northern part of the Commonwealth of Kentucky we have seen snow, more snow, add a little ice here and there, more snow, and then an ice storm and you pretty much have our last 4 weeks of weather. We cancelled church and church events and travel plans all because of the weather. When I look at the sidewalks that I typically will run for my training, they are all sheets of ice. The roads, you say? Well, so many of them are covered in periodic ice or because of the snow, are much more narrow than usual. When you throw on top of this negative windchill days, running outside has just not seemed reasonable. So, what are my other options?
In my town there are two options. I can either run on the treadmill or run on the small indoor track at our city building. The problem with the city building is that it has very limited hours they are open and they do not always coincide with my schedule. This leaves me with the dreadmill…..er…..I mean treadmill. I have seriously made this joke over and over in the last 3 weeks about how much I dread running on the treadmill. On so many levels that is exactly how I feel. However, lately, I have been trying to find the “good” in such a machine. So, here are a few reasons I think a treadmill is worth having or utilizing…..of course with the understanding that I much prefer the roads or the trails. Here goes.
1) The obvious!!! Treadmills are great for horrible weather. I have had training days in the winter where the negative chill outside is dangerous and so the treadmill will work for my workout. I have also been running outside in the spring or summer when a major front comes up and the rain is coming down so hard it really is too hard to run in. Again, a treadmill is great for these moments.
2) Treadmills are excellent for times of injury. Over the last year I have found myself in times of injury and the treadmill has been so helpful in recovery. The physical therapist is able to monitor my running and my gate during our sessions together. Most recently when my back was really having a hard time and I was running in the very very cold, my back would spasm and tighten up. So, running on the treadmill helped my back to heal in a warmer environment.
3) Treadmills have versatility of use. Depending on the kind of treadmill you buy, it can have features that can be useful directly to your speed and training. They have hill climbing. They have interval workouts. They can do hard cardio. They can offer jogging. In fact, most good treadmills have 3 or 4 workouts programmed into their system that can allow you to be versatile in your work out. This certainly beats running one speed in place for 45 minutes. If I am going to be indoors on a treadmill, I like it that I have options.
4) Finally, I can kill 2 birds with 1 stone. This particular aspect of treadmills is a bit selfish and first world, but I am certainly grateful for it. I can both get 4-5 miles in while I catch up on my latest show on Netflix or Hulu. I know this assumes that I have access to a tablet or computer or that I have the money to pay for Netflix and that this comes with a certain level of privilege. Bringing that aspect into awareness, I do also recognize that it is incredibly boring to stare at a wall for 45 minutes. So, I thank God for technology and the ability to watch a show for the length of my run.
Yes, on some level when I think about running on a treadmill, I do dread the idea. But, truth be told, these 4 reasons and many others do give me a more positive approach when trying to keep up my routine and training for my races. Next time you are hopping onto a treadmill and dreading it, try and think of a few ways in which it benefits you.
Post by Danielle
As I stated in my last post, I am spending the month of February in warm and beautiful Arizona. My first week here has already seen the re-ignition of my love for running. But something else has been happening that has caused me to reflect.
My routine has imploded.
I have such a set routine when I am home in Minnesota that it can be a bit ridiculous. I get up at the same time, run at the same time (typically even watch the same television series while on the treadmill), I shower at the same time, work at the same time, eat meals at the same time and limit them to a small rotation of menus. Everything is so routine it can be easy to float through my day and not really notice.
Granted, I travel extensively for my job and that means my days and routines are frequently upset. After a particularly long trip, the routine of home can be really nice. But for the most part, I get so into what I ‘always do’ I get completely stuck.
Enter Arizona. While I wake up and go to sleep about the same time as usual (thanks to my dog) the rest of my day changes. For instance, I don’t run first thing in the morning. I want to run in the desert and that means (for safety reasons) I need to wait until it is light out. That means I am usually running late morning after a few hours of work. This whole month has a vacation feel to it so my mom and I are often eating at different times and eating different foods.
And, the biggest adjustment I have had to make is there are hardly any clocks in this condo. Besides my cell phone, there is only a clock on the stove in the kitchen. Even the alarm clock in my bedroom needs to have a button pushed for me to see the time and I more often than not just decide to sleep by feel as opposed to time.
It is different. And it is good. I needed a break in routine. We all do. While routines can provide comfort and structure, they rarely leave room for creativity. Too many days, week, or months stuck in a routine can (at least for me) become oppressive.
I have been running without a GPS, simply running according to time and feel. And my running is joyful again. I sleep when I am tired and wake up when I want to and have more energy. I still work long and hard, but I can move to the patio to sit in the sunshine. I am eating new and fun food and feel satisfied.
I have broken my routines and I encourage all of you to do the same.
I have a new favorite breakfast routine that was introduced to me by my wife recently. It is both vegan and gluten free. I have found it incredibly delicious, filling, and easy to put together. I did not get any pictures for this unfortunately, but seriously, this is a very good breakfast option. Enjoy!
Gluten Free Hummus Toast
Take 1 piece of Gluten Free Bread (We use the Food for Life brand) and toast it either in the oven or in a toaster
Once the bread is toasted, spread 1 tablespoon of the hummus of your choice on the bread
Place a bed of lettuce on top of the hummus
1 piece of sliced tomato
Sprinkle some nutritional yeast to taste.