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Entries Tagged as 'Challenge'

Summer Dinners + Training Updates

August 22nd, 2014 · 4 Comments · Challenge, Fitness, Meal Planning

After my first triathlon this summer, I decided to try giving up music while running outdoors. During the triathlon, where headsets are prohibited by the USATF, I managed to get through nearly two hours of swimming, biking, and running, without it, and found myself really enjoying the quiet time. Without music you can listen keenly to your body and your surroundings. I find that I’m slower, but I think that really it’ll help me continue to build up my fitness, and more importantly, my mental fortitude. When you have nothing to listen to other than your thoughts, you have to make a conscious effort to fill your head with positivity in order to keep going strong. Last weekend I went for my longest run of marathon training so far, 13.1 miles on the coast, with nary a song nor podcast to keep me company. I did, however, have this view:

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Now, about that positivity. I wouldn’t exactly say that marathon training is going smoothly, but it hasn’t been abject failure. My long runs have all been *excellent* learning opportunities – specifically what NOT to do when running. 10 miles without food? Bad idea. You will be tired and crabby. Forget your water bottle? Good thing you brought some cash. Thank you kind people of Starbucks. Chafing under your left arm? Next time, there’s body glide. Yeah, I don’t quite know how that happened either. Fortunately, I’ve been tweaking as I go along, and each part of this adventure has me itching to continue. That’s really my ultimate goal with this marathon training: work hard toward something new, and have fun doing it.

I’ve also been doing it my own way: plenty of cross training in the mix, and as many new ways to challenge my body and mind as possible. Last Wednesday I woke up before dawn to head out to Harvard Stadium for a full tour with November Project. Stadiums are a challenging mental exercise. You head up the big steps, down the little ones, and work your way up and down, again and again, until you’ve worked your way around 37 sections. It has that hamster wheel feel to it, although working out with hundreds of other people at once makes it a spectacularly fun form of torture. My “carrot” was a 6 month old piglet named Phoebe, who was waiting to play at the last section of the day if you got your best time. My kind of motivation, and you bet I got to play with her!

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Another major piece of this marathon adventure has been fueling my body with delicious (and nutritious) foods. Here’s some brutal truth about endurance training: many people gain weight while training for a marathon. I did not want to do this! A large part of training is learning how to effectively feed yourself on long activities, as well as during your every day life. It’s easy to get into the habit of rewarding yourself with food post workout, but I’ve long tried to avoid this, because usually it’s a hard habit to kick when you reduce your milage and energy expenditure. Instead, I’ve been rewarding myself with home cooked dinners and packed lunches.  Yep, very wholesome of me. Here are a few of the best last week, re-shared from over on my Instagram.

Breakfast for Dinner. Cooked up some ground beef and onions with salt, garlic powder, and cumin. Added chopped potatoes, browned for a few minutes then added some chicken stock and covered the pan so the potatoes would cook through. Added a few extra eggs, and dinner is served!

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Seafood Mixed Grill.  King salmon, monkfish, and sea scallops, and beautiful dry farmed tomatoes I picked up at Formaggio Kitchen.

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Zucchini Noodles with Meat Sauce.  I shred, and then salt zucchini generously in a colander for 20-30 minutes. Give them a good rinse, and I usually try to wring out all the excess liquid. Usually I’ll pat with paper towels. If you have time, you can put them in the fridge for an hour to further the drying. And then just cook for 1-2 minutes in a good hot pan, and I’ll season and coat with a little olive oil. Topped with meat sauce made with Rao’s marinara.

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Dinner, Island Style. Pork chops, seasoned with salt, allspice, and garlic powder. Cooked in a little coconut oil on medium high, about 7 minutes on each side. Salad: cabbage, mango, and mint, with a dressing of lime, fish sauce, a little coconut oil for sweetness, and water.

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Crispy salted chicken leg with a carrot, tomato, cucumber and avocado salad with cumin dressing. Quick tip: to cut lots of cherry tomatoes, put away the knife, and take out your kitchen scissors!

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What’s on your table this week?

Are you training for any particular events this fall?

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Healthy Balance

May 28th, 2014 · No Comments · Challenge, Restaurants, Wellness

ShakeShackSweetGreen

For the past few months I’ve been hopping on the #FitFluential Twitter chats, looking to meet like-minded folks passionate about health and fitness.

Tonight one of the questions was about nutrition trends, a topic that always piques my interest. One person quipped “Now we say “clean eating” is a trend. When I was young, it was called, “eating at home.” And I’m not that old.” And isn’t it so true? Growing up, eating well meant eating wholesome, home cooked foods, free of junk additives. Treats were few and far between, but when we got them, they were savored.

I like to say that I’m not training for any particular race, I’m training for life. And to do that, I think about what I eat often – my goal in life is to eat sanely, well, and with delight. Sometimes it falls in line with trends, and sometimes it doesn’t. My eating is largely seasonal, heavier in the winter, lighter in the summer. At home I cook a lot of mediterranean inspired meals, and many of my home cooked meals fall squarely into the “paleo” or “primal” camp, which I was doing well before things became trendy. I just call it “eating”, and it’s something that I’m excited to do every day.

There’s always room for well-selected treats – tonight was no exception. I couldn’t help a trip to Shake Shack to celebrate National Burger Day. To balance it out, I crossed the street to the brand new sweetgreen in Chestnut Hill to pick up a “guacamole greens” salad to accompany it. Now that’s a good meal!

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So I think I like indoor cycling? (ClassPass launch at Flywheel)

March 8th, 2014 · 4 Comments · Challenge, Fitness

FlyWheel Never Coast

{Obligatory changing room selfie pre-workout. Am I going to make it? Am I going to die?}

I had an unusual conundrum on Tuesday: attend a startup event for women entrepreneurs which boasted an impressive list of founders who I admire and free dumplings, or attend an indoor cycling event at Flywheel, for the Boston launch of the startup ClassPass (which happens to be founded by women) with free post-workout salads from sweetgreen! Both events seemed well worth attending – and dumplings! – but as you have caught on already, cycling won out! Why? To overcome fear, try something I’d previously written off as “too difficult”, and crush it. The crushing part is subjective. In this case I just didn’t want to fall off the bike. I have ambitions for a sprint-tri in my future, and you have to start somewhere!

Indoor Cycling, take one: The first time I attempted indoor cycling was when I was living in San Francisco, and after barely, just barely, making it through a class without quitting, I went home and cried. The spin instructor, Rachel, was so terribly nice, and there were four of us in the class, a bickering boyfriend and girlfriend, both athletes giving 110% the entire class, an older man who was a cyclist with experience with real San Francisco hills, and me, out of shape, a little terrified, and woefully unprepared for what I was getting into. (There is some irony in the fact that I lived in San Francisco for several years and didn’t run once on the Embarcadero, and now I work at a fitness company in Boston and yearn wistfully for the West Coast whenever I’m out running here in the winter time.) But this spin class, this first class, I was uncoordinated, in pain, exhausted, and I felt sorrowfully like I had let the very nice instructor down. So I went home, and I cried, and I never went back again.

Looking back on this, years later, I get terribly sad thinking about how I missed out because I felt out of place – this feeling is one of the reasons that I go to work every day hoping to make fitness accessible to everybody.

Indoor cycling, take two: So Tuesday was my re-do, and I had no idea what to expect, but we’ll just say I was experiencing nervous excitement with just a smidge of terror. The class was at Flywheel, a new Boston cycling studio in the Prudential. Flywheel is pretty swanky – free shoes, towels, lockers, showers with complimentary shampoo, conditioner, and hair elastics! (I used three.) Our instructor, Ann, was great – super fit, dare I say it sultry in the best possible way – and I managed to make it through an entire class and get on the leaderboard. What a difference a few years can make. Definitely will be going back!

What is ClassPass: The startup I wish I had founded. With ClassPass, you subscribe a monthly $99, which gets you access to 10 classes at studios (Indoor Cycling, Yoga, Barre, and more) across the Boston area.

Flywheel Indoor Cycling
800 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02199
617-300-0388
boston.flywheelsports.com

ClassPass (formerly classtivity)
(Currently in Boston and New York)
classpass.com

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Chicken Brussels Sprouts with Soba

November 25th, 2013 · No Comments · Challenge, chicken, Pantry Staples, Pasta

Chicken Brussels Sprouts

For someone who loves food and cooking so much, some nights it’s awfully hard to make a decision and get food on the table. This evening threatened to be trashy takeout night– we didn’t get home until 8:30, and it took all of my willpower not to order in. I usually reserve Sunday afternoons for batch cooking, but yesterday I was out and about, and didn’t have time to cook. I did however pick up a package of organic free range chicken thighs at Trader Joe’s, which was my starting point for tonights meal.

First I added a spoonful of coconut oil to my All Clad and heated up the pan on medium high heat, seasoned my chicken thighs (about a pound and a half) with Maldon salt and black pepper, and seared them on one side for about five minutes without touching them. Once nicely browned, I flipped them over and started rummaging through my cupboards for something to cook with them. I had some garlic, just a few cloves, which I sliced and added to the pan. Then I decided on shredded brussels sprouts, a few large handfuls, which I added after the chicken was cooked through (about 12 minutes). I tossed the chicken and sprouts, and added a pinch of urfa biber (Turkish hot pepper), and covered the lid to let the sprouts steam. At this point, I took the picture, thinking that we’d eat, until I spotted a lone portion of soba noodles, one of those single portions, maybe 2 or 3 ounces, which I decided to quickly boil and add to the pan. To finish the dish, I grated on a massive amount of parmesan cheese, which just makes everything in life better, and tossed everything together.

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Dorie’s boeuf à la mode

November 24th, 2013 · No Comments · Challenge, French Fridays

Pot roast potatoes and roasted cauliflower

[First there was ‘Tuesdays With Dorie‘, where each week food-lovers across the internet united to bake a recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s ‘Baking: From My Home to Yours‘. A few years ago Dorie came out with a wonderful new cookbook ‘Around My French Table‘ where she shares her favorite French recipes – Check out French Fridays with Dorie if you’d like to join the fun.

Last month the French Friday’s With Dorie crew turned four. While I love the idea of a blog project, actually following through is another story – that’s why I’m in awe of the adventurous bloggers who have been cooking a recipe out of this book every week, for four years. Four years… over 200 recipes. (If you are curious, Mardi, of Eat Live Travel Write is one of these persistent folks.) The last time I participated was back in 2011, and my favorite recipe comes from 2010 – Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake (which would be a welcome addition to the Thanksgiving line up). Lately I’ve been considering starting up again.

On October 11th, the crew made (Boeuf à la mode, p 252), and after some good reviews all around, I thought that I’d try the recipe out, albeit a month and a half late. I had a small (two pound) top round roast from the butcher that I’ve been meaning to use, so I thought I’d put Dorie’s recipe to the test. This recipe is time consuming, but not laborious. You marinate beef with aromatics (onion, carrots, celery, and a bouquet garni), and a bottle of wine overnight. And then you braise it for hours with the marinade, vegetables, some beef stock, a hit of cognac, and the secret ingredients – tomato paste and anchovies.

Beef in marinade

Searing beef in cast iron pan

Searing vegetables in cast iron before braising

Dories pot roast ready for the oven

To round out the roast, I added some potatoes to the braise, and caramelized some cauliflower. I’d definitely make this one again!

In accordance with ‘French Fridays With Dorie’ rules, I’m not posting the recipe – you must buy Dorie’s book to get the details. But believe me, it will be money well spent. (If buying cookbooks isn’t your jam – don’t forget the library! Now that this has been out for about four years, it’s on many library shelves. If not, request it!)

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