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Healthy During the Holidays

The holidays are a magical time of year – dazzling lights, enchanting music, chilly weather, a flurry of holiday parties, and a slew of food, drink, and merriment. It’s a great time of year for most, but it can be a difficult time of year for many. Here’s a few tips to stay healthy – mentally, physically and emotionally – during this wonderful time of year.

Take Time for Yourself

The common denominator during the holidays is a crammed schedule. We are all busy. Between shopping, decorating, cooking, preparing for out-of-town-guests (or traveling), holiday parties and family obligations, daily life can feel overwhelming. My most effective strategy for staying sane is to carve out quiet, alone time.

Whether it’s a solo run, morning yoga, or just Netflix & chilling by myself, I make sure to get enough alone time to decompress – even if it’s just for an hour or two.

Get Moving

The other anxiety-inducing aspect of the holidays besides time is the food & drink – for me, at least. The holidays can feel like a minefield for healthy eaters, athletes in training, or anyone that’s made progress on their health journey. Few of us would ever cook a gigantic feast and lay out an entire dessert tablet to choose from on our own, right? But that’s the reality of most parties & family events.

There’s nothing wrong with feasting, of course – but when you’re spending time, energy, effort and money on eating healthfully, it can be tough to conquer the dessert table. For me, it’s not even about the calories or macros – it’s about the very upset stomach the next day from eating a slew of rich foods I don’t usually eat.

My strategy is to make sure I keep moving, even with an already busy schedule. I sneak in quick runs and gym sessions as much as possible, and one of our family traditions is to go on a run on Christmas Day with my Dad – and now, with my fiancée as well. It helps us celebrate the day and take care of ourselves at the same time.

At the Holiday Hustle 5K!

Another option is to sign up for a holiday 5k – almost every city has them, and it’s a great way to dress up and enjoy the season while still getting in some miles.

Forget the Guilt

Back to the food – there is literally no purpose in feeling guilty about indulging. It’s practically impossible to eat 100% clean during this time of year anyways, unless you bring your own food in Tupperware to every party you attend. That’s not much fun, is it?

I get rid of the guilt by filling my plate with veggies, fruits, and lighter dishes and picking a few indulgences I really love. That way, I get to indulge without too much of a stomach ache. I also love to bring a dish of roasted veggies, salad, or healthy dessert to potlucks so I know I’ll at least have a base for my plate.

Focus on the Reason for the Season

During the craziness of the holidays, we often forget that it’s not really about gifts, eggnog, drinks, pies, red and white, Santa, and decorations. That’s all fun, but it’s about a lot more than that – spending time with family, letting friends know you love them, reaching out to people we’ve lost touch with, merriment, celebration, community, closeness. Not to mention the religious aspects of whatever you and your family celebrate – hello, birthday of my Lord & Savior!

Don’t get caught up in the commercialism of the whole thing when it’s not even about that. It’s about all the good, mushy, happy, lovey stuff – not on eating the least pie or snagging the best gift.

Happy Holidays!

Nicole

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Thoughtful Thursday: Getting Older

It’s interesting how much I’ve changed as the years have passed. I’ve always been a spaz with big dreams and lots of them – constantly chasing after this, and then that, and then something else, and everything all at once. I wanted to build my own side business, work 50 hours a week, get my personal training certificate, train for a marathon and lift heavy in the gym – all day, every day.

Needless to say, it’s exhausting.

As the years have passed, though, a few big events have shook me out of my do-it-all cycle and forced me to rebuild my life with the most important things. I’ve shifted from short-term dreams to long-term goals. Instead of cramming as much as I can in one day, I’ve learned to ask myself, what is the best use of my energy and free time today?

I’ve learned that six-pack abs aren’t worth it, and really don’t matter; that I don’t need to run a sub-four-hour marathon in order to be a runner; and most importantly, I’ve discovered that I have time. Plenty of it. That my youth isn’t a runaway train already far down the tracks; that aging really isn’t that big of a deal.

I’ve met wanderers and travelers and runners and writers and entrepreneurs and artists of every age and every stage, figuring it out a hundred times over. I’ve learned that even if I do figure out and plan my entire life today, a million different events could destroy it all, in the best way possible.

That anything’s possible, really. And I have plenty of time to figure it all out, and I always will.

 

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The Body Positive Athlete

A friend asked me how you can be body positive and an athlete at the same time. It’s a great question, because I don’t think the two have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, they can go hand in hand, if that’s what you’re about! All you need are these key points:

✨all bodies are worthy or respect & love

✨athletic ability & health can’t be judged by appearance

✨athleticism and health doesn’t make anyone superior to another

✨movement should come from a place of joy, not punishment or sacrament

✨bodies are beautiful and capable of so much!

That’s literally it! Shifting to a body positive mindset allowed me to actually enjoy the activities I love – soccer, running, hiking, swimming. It disconnected me from the ingrained need to “work off” my food/weight and brought me back to a place of fun.

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Vegan Marathon Munchies


As I’m gearing up for the Honolulu Marathon, my meal plan has taken shape, too. Long runs make me so beyond starving that my marathon training usually equates to months of marathon eating. It’s a vicious cycle, but it’s so freakin amazing. As a historically restrictive/borderline obsessive calorie tracker, the sky-high calorie burns from running feel like a free pass to Disneyland, in food form. Yes, please!

Naturally, though, you can’t realistically have your hard-earned cake and eat it, too. Or at least you can’t without repercussions. For me, staying light and lean makes running easier, so I have to strike a balance between my veracious appetite and what my body actually needs.

Here’s a quick snapshot of my proudly plant-based meal plan. Of course, every body is different, so this isn’t designed for anyone specifically – it’s just what I’ve found to work well for me, on and off of training season.

Meal 1: Pre-Run

I prefer to run in the mornings if at all possible so I don’t have to think about the impending run all day long. I like to have something light, so I usually eat 1/2 a banana for short runs. For long runs, I eat something like this – a piece of Dave’s Killer Bread or Ezekiel bread with powdered peanut butter (mixed with water, so it spreads thin) and a teensy bit of fruit. The fruit is important cause it gives me that burst of energy/wake-up to get out and run.

Meal 2: Breakfast

Best meal of the day, y’all! So, quick disclosure – if I do a long run, I do down a low-calorie protein shake right after. But most days I get to enjoy this beautiful cereal recipe from Engine 2 Kitchen . It’s packed with vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, good fats, complex carbs and protein to boot. Here’s my breakdown:

1/4 cup Grape Nuts, 1/4 cup old fashion rolled oats, 1/4 cup Uncle Sam’s berry flakes

1 tbsp. chia seeds, 1 tbsp. flaxseed meal

1 small banan, sliced; 1 kiwi, sliced; 10 berries of any kind

1/2 cup plant milk (coconut, almond, flax milk – anything!)

Afternoon Snack

Snacks are what I live for. Like, so seriously. I’m usually running around crazy, so for afternoon time I snack on something simple, like an apple with 1tbsp almond butter, carrots and 2 tbsp hummus, or a Larabar.

 

Lunch


I LOVE having lunch at home, where I can whip up a gigantic salad packed with a zillion veggies and topped with nuts, seeds, 1/2 cup brown rice or noodles, and some baked tofu or tempeh. Or a similar wrap!


Yet, alas, I’m usually running from meeting to meeting or apartment to apartment, so bae and I often end up eating out. Thankfully, Hawaii has tons of lighter options, so it’s easy for me to find a healthy, plant-based meal on the go. My faves are definitely summer rolls with tofu from any Thai/Vietnamese restaurant, or a veggie delight sandwich from subway on multigrain flatbread – swap cheese for avocado, and with as much veggies as possible.

 Evening Snack

I love love love snacks. My favorites around nighttime usually include fruit to satisfy my sweet tooth. I love sweet berries drizzled with pbfit (powdered peanut butter mixed with water) or bananas and peanut butter, or apples and almond butter. YUM!

Dinner


My dinner is literally the same almost every single night: grilled or sautéed veggies, brown rice or sweet potato, and a plant-based protein. My go-to’s are lentils, beans, tofu, or tempeh, but I sometimes spoil myself with a good mock meat. 

Dessert


Dessert is important, because i love myself. Lol. If I’m hungry after dinner, which I normally at if I work at night or had a long run that day, I indulge. I love a good vegan donut, some dark chocolate, or protein nice cream. 


Hope this helps!

Love,

Nicole

Running · Uncategorized

Training While Injured


It’s been almost two weeks of non-soccer/non-running existence and let me tell you – the injured life is not a fun one. With lots of life changes like moving apartments & possible career shifts, it’s been a major struggle not being able to run through it all. Running is my mediation, my quiet, precious ‘me’ time, and I’m going a little bit crazy without it.

In a nutshell – resting ain’t easy.


To keep myself in shape for a busy marathon season, I’ve been supplementing as best as I can with bike riding, swimming, and lifting at the gym. The only good news is that I’m able to lift a lot heavier than usual because I’m not running. So, I’ve gotten to play around with compound movements like squats and snatches to keep myself strong.

I’ve also been stuck with the very boring task of ankle PT. I can’t explain why I hate it so much, but I totally do. I hate every second of it. I know it helps, but it’s so boring it’s like watching paint dry, except you have to be an active participant. Ugh.


Anyways, I just go cleared to ‘lightly jog’ for a few minutes and come back next week to get the final go ahead. I’m still benched from soccer, which starts this weekend, and banned from my Old Pali Road race this Sunday. So, for the next week, I’ll still be grumpy and difficult but hopefully will get my happy time back soon. 🙂

Happy Healing!

Nicole

Running · Uncategorized

Half Marathon Training!


It’s that time of year again – when the island weather is cool, soccer is in full swing, and my life is filled with short, beautiful runs to get ready for half marathon season. Half Marathon training is my very favorite, because the runs are short and easy and don’t totally disrupt my life or turn me into a nap queen the way marathon training does.

My next race is the Hapalua Half Marathon, an awesome event that kicks off in downtown Honolulu and winds its way around diamond head and ends at Kapiolani Park. It’s one of my fave races here in Hawaii. It’s on April 30, 2017, so I have about 12 beautiful weeks to train!

Here’s my training plan:

training-plan

After sending my plan to some friends that are also in training, they all asked the same question: why are you using a beginner’s training program?

My answer: because LIFE is hard. A beginner’s plan like this one is easy, flexible, and – most importantly – it works. I can control how fast or slow I run, where to incorporate intervals, and it’s simple enough for it to work in with my soccer schedule.


I encourage everyone, honestly, to stick with an easy, simple, open, adjustable, and flexible training plan, regardless of what race or event its for. Why? Because if it’s not easy, simple, open, adjustable and flexible, it won’t work with your unique schedule, circumstances & life.

Keep it simple, folks! It does work.

Anyways, I’m very excited to be back on a training plan  and on the road and trails. It’s been beautiful having a break, but I’m more than ready to be in racing shape 🙂

Happy training!

Nikki

 

 

Eating · Uncategorized

Silver Fern Brand Review!

Let’s be honest – I’ve reviewed my fair share of products. From granola bars and energy gels to plant-based protein powders, I’ve had quite a time tasting, testing, reporting and reviewing the latest and greatest fitness food stuff.


While I usually enjoy the taste testing process (I mean, who wouldn’t?) it’s rare that I encounter a product that I truly love. And it’s especially rare that I encounter an entire box of a wide arrary of products and absolutely love and enjoy each and every one of them.

I got a big ol’ box of goodies from Silver Fern Brand, who I found – and was found by – on Instagram. First, I was wowed by the variety. From chocolate bark to probiotics (lots of probiotics), protein powder, and fiber – there it was, y’all.

I’ve suffered from digestive issues my entire life, so I was thrilled by the prevalence of prebiotics and probiotics in pretty much everything. The reason I eat the way I do – mostly gentle plants, soups, sweet potatoes and healthy fats – is because my poor tummy can’t handle much else.


So when you I get sent something like Silver Fern Brand’s Kai Meal Shake, it feels like Christmas. Taste-wise, this baby is smooth, simple and not too sweet (my flavor was banana) and is super easy on my very sensitive stomach. I actually found myself craving these shakes after my workouts and soccer games. It also has pro- and prebiotics crammed in, along with21 essential vitamins and minerals to make a well-rounded mini-meal. Hands-down, A+.


I’m also a huge fan of their Cenavi Chocoalte Bark, which was dotted with Cranberry, Blueberry and Ginger-y gems. This stuff tasted bomb, but had no added sugar or sugar alcohols, touts low calories and net carbs, and is a natural prebiotic. WIN.


Third favorite is a tie for the Wai Porbiotic Drink Mix and the Ulitmate Probiotic Supplement. Again, I have pretty serious tummy issues, so I try to take in as much probiotics as I can – but let’s be real, a girl can only eat so much Kimchi. The Wai drinks – which came in a breadth of yummy flavors – were all yummy, low in carbs and sugar, and not too sweet.


So, here’s the thing – Silver Fern Brand hooked it UP. And truthfully, honestly – their stuff is off the chain. It’s a relief to be taking in so many pre- and probiotics in a variety of ways, instead of scarfing down miso and plugging my nose at kombucha. I loved their products, and the honesty and simple, straight-up goodness. I’m really touched that I was able to try out such quality products! I absolutely recommend everything, and thank them for opening my eyes to awesome, yet wholesome, alternatives to keep my gut healthy and happy.

A+++++,

Nikki