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Hyannis Marathon, Half & 10k ~ Recap

I must admit, I don’t know where to begin with this recap – there are so many emotions and stories! I guess I should just start at the beginning. After running the trilogy last year, my husband placed in the top ten and qualified for free entry in all three races this year.

After lack luster (to put it mildly) training for the last race in October, I wasn’t too sure about doing it again. In the name of support and having a goal, I decided to join him again.

As the race approached, I read my recap from last year and felt that my training was actually pretty good. The weather looked great again and I started to get excited for race day. We met up with our friend to collect out trilogy jackets at the race expo and the excitement went to a new level.

The buzz around this race is contagious!! You can’t help but get pumped! You know this is true because my friend spontaneously signed up for the 10k! I was through the roof to have a friend run with me!!

We got to the race nice and early as parking can be a challenge and enjoyed amazing people watching (one of my favorite activities 😉). There are so many different types of people at this race. It is one of (if not the) last qualifiers for Boston. This means there are a lot of serious runners looking for great times. There are also lots of half marathoners training for Boston or accomplishing New Years resolutions.

As we were sitting there, the Hoyt’s came in and started getting ready. I don’t think there can be anything more inspiring! It really is such a treat to see them in person and know how much running has done for them and others!

We met up with a few other friends and headed to the start. My friend revealed her “Roger That” t-shirt during pre-race photos and I can assure you it was a huge hit along the course. I’m pretty sure it must be what it’s like to run with a celebrity. One of the college kids volunteering along the course even threw her a football around mile 3. Of course, I wasn’t paying attention and almost took it to the face, but I didn’t and she made an Edelman catch 😉.

My friend hadn’t had the opportunity to train as extensively – because life happens. We decided to have fun and take it all in. I know she was a little frustrated and wanted me to go ahead, but I reminded her that I had talked her into it. I was so happy to have company!!

We finished and found out my husband had his best time – he was pretty excited. The three of us had some water and decided to go grab lunch. After battling our way out and getting to the restaurant we discovered my husband had won his division and the awards ceremony was about to start. Back to the race we went and luckily made it just in time for the awards ceremony. Here he is collecting his trophy from Frank Shorter (who won the Olympic gold medal for the Marathon in 1972 and silver in 1976).

We were doubly lucky to have gone back as they held up a found car key. Yup, it belonged to our group! It had fallen out of an arm strap designed to hold your phone and wait for it, key 😉. Luckily all is well that ends well.

After collecting his award and the key, we went to the after party for a post run beer 😊. It seems crazy to think I was considering not running. The day was everything I hoped for and I’m already looking forward to the next one!!

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Pros and cons of fitness challenges

For this post, I’m going to talk about fitness challenges, but eating challenges/cleanses fall in the same category 😉

Over the years, I have participated in a few different challenges. Everything from a set number of miles in a month to doing a yoga pose everyday. As I was participating in this year’s winter warrior challenge, I got to thinking about why I love these challenges. This also led me to think about the downside too. Here are the pros and cons I came up with…

PROS

Support

To me, this is one of the most important aspects of a challenge. It is pretty easy to get your family and friends behind you for thirty days. Think about it, everyone nods their head knowingly when you say “I have to get in my mile for the challenge I’m participating in”. There is general acceptance to a challenge.

Accountability 

Challenges often have built-in accountability. Normally, you have to log your miles somewhere or take a photo. This automatically makes you accountable to yourself and others. I often joke about the winter warrior shirt, but it truly gets me out there on the super yucky days.

Deadline 

There is an end in sight. It’s easy to convince yourself to do something for a set amount of time. There is nothing like counting down to the end. 

CONS

It ends

Yup, the deadline is a double-edged sword. We know there is an end and no matter how much we think we’ll keep that habit going, statistically it doesn’t happen. Last year I thought I’d keep getting a mile in outside – until it snowed. There was no external motivation. That’s why we have treadmills right 😉

OK, every con I think of really comes down to the fact the challenge ends and we go back to our old habits. With that being said, I keep coming back to the idea we get great support for a challenge, but it’s difficult to continue that everyday. 

How do we change that? Why can’t we simply say, I go for a walk everyday and leave it at that? Truly, it comes down to our own ideas about what is ok. If we are confident in our need to walk everyday, those around us will accept it. It’s funny how confidence plays a major role in many aspects of our lives.

Most of us struggle in large social gatherings, talking about our successes in interviews and owning our choices. Perhaps the answer is taking the confidence from the challenge forward. Learning how to be unapologetic about taking time for ourselves to do what we need for our physical and mental health. 

Do you participate in challenges? What do you consider to be pros and cons?

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Making the “better” choice

When it comes to adjusting our eating habits, many think it has to be “go big or go home”. Really, it is about making small, manageable changes over time. When the mentality is all or nothing it is so easy to feel deflated and give up. If we look at it as one meal at a time and more importantly one decision at a time it’s not only easier to make the change but also to stay with it.

As we know, I’m a huge fan of the crockpot but I don’t use it every night. Only when we have something going on and I won’t be home to prepare dinner. When we think we have to do it every night and then we don’t, it’s hard to get back in the swing of things.

By all means prep away, but don’t let a busy weekend derail you from your goal. Think about the healthier choice. If you wind up grabbing food on the way home – make the healthier choice. Going out with friends, make the healthier choice. As you do this, the healthier choices actually get healthier.

Let the decision be intentional and not just a reaction. When faced with food options, think about which one is better for you. This can be done in most situations. Eating a meal at someone’s house? Take some extra vegetables and be sure to enjoy the entree.   

The idea is to make the changes sustainable, not just for a short period of time.

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Meal planning tips

I have been planning meals for as long as I can remember. Seriously, I planned meals once I moved off campus in college. My dance schedule was such that I wasn’t home often between classes and when I was it was pretty quick. Add in a physically demanding schedule and I simply had to plan. We all did and we were probably the only college kids packing lunch and snacks. 😉

I guess, it came in handy as I now manage four crazy, busy schedules. Here are some of my tips 🙂

Know your schedule

Seems obvious, right? I write it down on the calendar to make it easy, I need visual cues. After the first week or so, I know it pretty well. Once I see the schedule I figure out what days are the craziest. For example, are we running from school to an activity, meaning everyone will get home starving or is it a night that we can take time and prepare.

Click here to print your own calendar

Picking meals

Once I know what I’m working with I start selecting meals. Is it a crockpot night? If so then I pick a recipe and I do this for each night. Sometimes I get bored and follow cliché Internet themes like meatless Monday or taco Tuesday. This helps me narrow down what feels like an endless number of recipes.

Need some inspiration?  Here are my Pinterest boards for crockpot, chicken, and seafood

Grocery shopping

Now that the meals are planned comes the thankless job of creating the shopping list and actually shopping. Be thorough in your list and remember you can throw meat in the freezer. The shopping is never glamorous, but I like getting it all out of the way. You can always leave a free night to pick something up.

Don’t have time to shop? Try a grocery delivery service. Most will save your previous lists making it easy for future shopping. This can also help with the budget and not buying extra treats 😊

Click here for a blank shopping list

Do you plan your meals?  What works and what doesn’t?

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Healthy Eating Tricks

The idea of eating healthy can be really overwhelming and is often conquered by taking small steps. Most people who eat on the healthier end of the scale have a few tricks. Here are mine…

Ground turkey/chicken

I pretty much replace ground beef with ground turkey or chicken in every recipe. Chili, tacos, meatloaf and some meatballs. Meatballs can be tricky and I often look up a recipe specifically for turkey or chicken. For example we love these turkey meatballs.

I struggle with making my own turkey or chicken burgers – frankly, I over cook them. We rarely eat burgers – more of a summer treat on the grill so I don’t mess with it much.

Leaving out the egg

This is nothing against eggs, they are a great source of protein, but they are unnecessary in a lasagne as there are plenty of protein sources in the dish. I have never put it in ricotta – ever and it’s still delicious!

I almost never dredge my chicken. The best alternative is mustard. I often use mustard on my chicken before coating. Sometimes I play with the mustard, yellow, brown, honey mustard, etc depending on the flavor I want. A less healthy alternative is ranch dressing. I do this for “ranch chicken”. I coat the chicken in ranch then coat in breadcrumbs before baking.

Breadcrumbs

I rarely buy them. Sometimes I keep panko breadcrumbs in the house for specific recipes, otherwise I use whole wheat bread in the food processor. This is a great way to add flavors such as garlic cloves, and herbs plus you control the amount of salt.

Fruit and veggies everywhere

Ok, maybe not everywhere, but easily accessible. From fall through spring there is at last one bowl of fruit on my counter (fruit flies in the summer so it goes to the fridge). This makes it easy to grab. The boys’ friends also grab fruit at will, often apples.

I put out fruit or veggies with each meal and often snack. When their friends are over I put out junk and fruit or veggies, it’s always devoured.

Where I don’t substitute 

French fries. I know some of you just laughed out loud 😉 I’m sorry, but veggies baked in bread crumbs are not the same. I would truly rather have celery sticks or a salad. I’ll even make veggie fries but I don’t call them fries. Perhaps these work for you and that’s great!

As I mentioned earlier, I like a good burger. These are both foods I don’t eat often and frankly, I’m not giving them up.

The beauty is you don’t have to give up something you love either. Maybe change the frequency or portion size but you don’t have to give it up completely.

What are some of your healthy tricks?

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Rethinking “should”

This is a funny post to write because it’s basically a “should” in itself 😳. I hear “I know, I should be doing…” all the time and it has never once been said by someone with an empowered smile on her face. It got me thinking, how can we fix this idea of “should”…

I think it begins with what is being seen. Mostly, this applies to social media. If your feed is filled with super fit women eating a piece of lettuce in a luxurious location, it might seem the whole world is doing something you “should” be doing too. The best part about this one – YOU are in charge of what you see. Feel free to use the hide function and even unfollow when necessary.

After cleaning up your feed comes the really important question when facing an “I should” moment: “do I want to”. There really is no point in worrying about what you “should” be doing if you don’t want to do it. (You are still the boss in your life)

Next, try replacing “should” with “can”. For example – I “can” eat more vegetables sounds more empowering than I “should” eat more vegetables. If the answer to “I can…” is yes, ask for help if you need it and start taking the steps you want to take 😊

Do you get caught feeling you “should” be doing something?

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Tracking movement vs food ~ reward vs punishment?


Over the last few years wearable fitness trackers have gained popularity and for good reason. It’s fun to see how much you move in a day and give ourselves a mental high-five!

Interestingly, we feel the opposite when it comes to tracking food. Somehow, we see more failure with food tracking – even when we are making good decisions.

Like most things, this can change with perspective. What if, we competed with friends over eating different colored vegetables? Probably sounds lame, but I’d bet you never thought you’d compete with friends over how many steps you walk in a day ;). It could even be something like cooking dinner at home or packing lunch for work.

Here’s a challenge: pick a group of 5 people (friends, family, co-workers, whomever) and challenge them to a healthy eating competition. Take a photo (it can be fruit, veggies, a meal you made, a snack, etc) post it to Instagram and use #SFHWhealthyeatingchallenge and tag me @susanfishback and your friends!  Post between January 3 – 13 and I’ll pick a winner of $20 to Trader Joe’s – if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s, we’ll figure it out ;).

Have fun!!!

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Finding your fitness home


Fitness is not one size fits all! That’s why there are so many options, but let’s face it – all the options can be pretty overwhelming. Without getting into all of the different styles, let’s talk about the different locations.

Home

Workouts at home have been big for decades and really work for some people. When it comes to working out at home, commitment can be the hardest part. An easy way to work around this is to set a timer on your phone/set an appointment on your calendar and let others know that you are unavailable at that time.

You can try a variety of styles online and see what works before making a large financial commitment to workouts or equipment. It can be as cheap or expensive as you like 😉

A gym

There are so many options for this one. Everyone is looking for/needs something different. Take some time and figure out what you are looking for. Try the classes you are interested in, go to use the equipment at the time you will be using the gym, or check out the different trainers.

People often visit gyms on lunch breaks or when they are out running errands and are surprised that it is quite different before or after work. A good gym will be more than happy to let you check it out and answer any questions you have.

Studios

This can be yoga, pilates, spinning, boxing; there are many variations. It’s often a smaller environment with a tight, community feel. Some people love this and others don’t. That’s ok, be sure to check it out. Attend at a time you plan on going. Again, this lets you see how the crowd is and what the feel will be when you go regularly.

The only expert for what works for you is you! Everyone is looking for something different and there is nothing wrong with trying a variety of options. Don’t let a wrong fit lead you to giving up – simply try something else. I promise you will find your groove. It is meant to be fun and make you feel good. There will be workouts that are less fun, but they usually break through to a great one 🙂

Where do you workout?  Have you tried somewhere and then found a better fit?

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Running a trilogy

A few years ago, my husband and I decided to try a 10k; but the race was cancelled due to snow. We ran other races, but always had this particular event on our radar. The race happens to be the first one held by the organizers each year (they run three different events over the year). Running all three was appealing, but they only offered the half marathon in all three. This was a little too far for us; BUT last year – they decided to have a 10k trilogy and we were sold!

Here are a few things I learned along the way…

Anything for bling…

Seriously, medals are so much fun and this series has some great ones! There is the added bonus of a jacket if you run all three. This jacket was quite the motivating force! My friend and I consider it our varsity letterman jacket. We don’t get them until the race in February and we are ready for them! As we “prepared” (seriously, the training wasn’t great 😉) for the last race, our mantra was anything for a jacket.

You may recall our mantra from the winter warrior challenge being anything for our name on a shirt (I know, we have issues). In all seriousness, having something fun to focus on really got us through the training and running of the last leg in the trilogy.

The gift that keeps on giving…

It’s one thing to sign up for a race when you’ve been training, but committing to three races over the year is a different animal. Once you’re done with one, you realize there’s another one coming. This really helps when you hit the blahs. You have to keep running, or in our case keep trying to get runs in 😉

Even now when I’m feeling less motivated to run, I think about how much fun we had and that I don’t want to give it up.

Going the right distance…

Because it can be challenging to maintain training enthusiasm, it’s important to pick the right distance. The 10k is right in my sweet spot! I really love this distance and the training is manageable. I haven’t ventured into the half marathon range, but know many people who love the distance.

It’s nice to find a distance that’s enjoyable and also a challenge. I still can’t believe I enjoy running six miles!

Running into friends (pun intended😉)…

Running the trilogy provided more opportunities to see friends. We have run enough races to have made race friends (people we see consistently at races and have become friendly with) and many of them were at all three races. We also saw co-workers, other parents and my friends from high school.

One of my favorite parts of the trilogy was it allowed me to cheer on friends running their first half marathons (we did this at all three!). I love it when I can be a participant and spectator!!

Have you run a series? Is it a goal to run a race series?

Excited about Susan Fishback Health and Wellness coming in 2017? Me too! Join my email list here to get more information as it becomes available!

Here are the race recaps: first, second, third

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Answers to common crockpot questions


If you know me, you know I love my crockpot. It has been a lifesaver!! I’m actually on my second one (yikes) after using our last one to death.  Because I talk about it often, I get asked a lot of questions. Here are the most common ones…

What kind do you use?

When I bought my first crockpot, I just grabbed one at the store. Little did I know how lucky I was. It was a 6 qt, programmable Crock-Pot. I love being able to set it and forget it! I’m almost never home when it needs to turn off.

When it died, I ran to the store and discovered they didn’t have any programmable ones available. I knew this feature was non-negotiable.

I found a newer version of my old one on Amazon and snagged it (I chose Amazon because I had a gift card – I’m sure any online retailer has it too). The best thing I did was keep my old insert for back-up. This way I can use it back to back days and not stress about cleaning it (I like to let it soak).

Is it really easy?

For me, personally, the idea of the crockpot is all about ease! I pick simple recipes that not only don’t have a lot of ingredients but not a lot of prep work either. It’s often thrown together on the run.

After using the crockpot for a while I discovered New Leaf Wellness and learned how to freeze meals ahead of time. This was great for me as the one thing that slows me down is having not defrosted the meat. I also learned you can use frozen meat just add 30 minutes on high or 60 minutes on low (seriously a game changer for me).

Is it only for winter?

Nope! While there are many fun comfort foods like chilis, pasta bakes and soups there are a variety of lighter options. I often throw a jar of salsa or barbecue sauce over chicken breasts (cook on high for 3 hrs) and use the shredded meat in the summer.

Where do you find recipes?

My first crockpot cook book was Betty Crocker’s Slow Cooker cookbook and it’s still my favorite. There are many easy, family friendly recipes. Of course, I LOVE Pinterest! I even have a board dedicated to crockpot recipes. As always, I look for easy!

Do you use a crockpot ?  What are your go-tos?  Have a question I didn’t answer?  Leave it in the comments 🙂

Want to find out when Susan Fishback Health and Wellness launches?  You can join my email list here!