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From 5K lover to half-marathon runner!


A Valentine’s Day Treat Without the Guilt – Black Bean Brownies

Mon, 02/14/2011 - 9:41AM by the13thmile 0 Comments -


Although I have not yet tried this recipe, it sounds like a winner, and I will bake them soon! Heart-healthy black beans, smothered in just enough cocoa powder to trick tastebuds? I’m in! It seems like once the beans are baked, they become gooey and tasty, especially surrounded by the other tasty brownie ingredients – with many less calories. Can’t wait to try this and see if it competes with a traditional brownie!

Thank you to Amanda Freitag, celebrity chef and recurring judge on Food Network’s competition show “Chopped,” and registered nutritionist Julie Barto for the MS Active Wellness Nutrition Program for providing this healthy snack for those of us counting calories but addicted to chocolate.

Black Bean Brownies: 

Beans provide your body with fiber and protein, and they are low in fat and calories.  If you haven’t found a way to add them to your lunch or dinner meals, why not try adding them for dessert?!
Version #1:

1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained very well
3 eggs
3 Tbsp canola oil
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed or ¾ cup white granulated sugar
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
Preheat oven to 350⁰.  Spray an 8” x 8” baking pan with cooking spray.

In food processor, process black beans until smooth.  Add the eggs, oil, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, vanilla extract, and sugar, and process until smooth.  Add ½ of the chocolate chips, and pulse a few times or stir, so that the chips are mixed in. Transfer the batter to the baking pan, and sprinkle the remaining chips on top of the brownies.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean.
Version #2:

1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained very well
1 brownie mix
Return the rinsed beans to the can, and add enough water to cover the beans.  Transfer beans/water to food processor, and process until smooth.  Transfer the bean puree to a large bowl, and stir in the brownie mix.  Transfer to a pan coated in cooking spray, and follow the directions on the brownie box for baking.  You may need to add a few more minutes to the baking time.


3 Ways to Workout at Home During Winter Snowstorms

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 6:01PM by the13thmile 0 Comments -

A few weeks ago, I wrote on the ease of continuing to run outside, despite extreme weather conditions – like post-snowstorm. However, I do believe that at a certain point – like when the roads are coated with semi-invisible ice, or your city is in the midst of a blizzard – taking the workout indoors is one’s only option.

The problem with indoor workouts is that there are too many distractions. It’s easy to fall victim to the household chores or that favorite TV show. But these activities can simply be woven into the overall fitness routine while multitasking!

1.    Weighted TV watching – As many trainers and fitness experts agree, lifting weights several times a week is one of the best ways to torch calories for 24 hours post-workout while boosting metabolism. For those of us with no time left over for TV, lunges, crunches and tricep-dips might just be the only time to catch up on the most recent episode of our favorite TV shows. Might as well get the most out of the time!

2.    Cardio Chores – So you have a dishwasher – but it doesn’t plug into the wall; it has two arms and it’s you. Should standing in front of your sink scrubbing pots for an hour become wasted time? Or can you use it to your advantage? Use this time to perform side leg lifts, squats, back-kicks or anything else your lower half can multi-task while your dishes become sparkling clean.

3.    Never sit still – I have turned this quality into a near-nervous habit, but I simply cannot relax and sit still. I’m not suggesting that everyone follow this advice, as this is probably more of an annoyance, than a positive trait. However, the benefit to never sitting still is constant calorie burning. If you’re at home for hours at a time, why not squeeze in a minute of jumping jacks or some skaters?  Short bursts of cardio blast more fat because of the interval training.



It’s February 1st – Where are your New Year’s Resolutions?

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 5:39PM by the13thmile 0 Comments -

In her New Year’s Eve Blog post, Lauren Slayton, MS, RD and Foodtrainers owner challenged us to “check back on February 1”. With January in the books, I thought I’d accept her challenge and ask everyone: where are your New Year’s Resolutions?


After 31 days of 2011, have you given up or have you stood strong in your plan for self-improvement? I am on the road to success, but there is still time before my new habits will be cemented as routine, and I’ve still slipped a few mornings this month when I did not hear my alarm in time. Below are some steps I’m taking to – once and for all – stop my poor sleep habits. What are your goals, and how are you making them happen this year?

Resolution: Sleep at least seven hours a night

Go To Bed Earlier

Even on weekends. Even if you work better, party better, feel better at night. Attempting to rise at a consistent time each day is essential from every sleep article I’ve read on the subject. I’ve never been able to fall asleep early, even when exhausted, so this has been the biggest hurdle. I’m like a vampire – I like to sleep all day and stay up all night. I adore the New York Times sleep blog, All Nighter.

Melatonin – My Natural Sleep Aid

The biggest push assistance in falling asleep prior to 1am has been my use of sleep-aids, something I swore I'd never resort to, but something that is helping me to at least get into the habit of a "bedtime". I can’t automatically fall asleep at 10 p.m., but am trying to at least make my bed time shift from 1:00am or later by 15 minutes each month. I’m currently at midnight to 12:30 as my bedtime, but try to sleep earlier whenever possible.

New Alarm Clock – The Sonic Boom

An alarm clock made for the hard of hearing, the Sonic Boom not only reaches 113 decibels, but it comes with a vibrating bed shaking attachment. It was hilarious the first few mornings when the shaking jolted me into consciousness – but the obnoxiously loud ringing in tandem with a shock of movement underneath me has been enough to make me jump up and actually wake up. I’m Moving! I am moving closer to work. Currently, it takes me over an hour to reach the office. By moving closer, I am opening up forty-five precious moments for sleep, but more importantly, I will get home earlier at night, meaning I will go to bed earlier.

Fit, Fun and Fab in Feb

Two co-workers and I have planned a kick-start into a morning workout routine: Every morning this week, we are meeting at the gym above our office for moral support, and morning workouts. Because I know I've committed to meet others at the gym, it is helping me to only hit the snooze buttons a few times, instead of for two hours.

No More Snooze!

Now when my initial alarm goes off, I flick on the light, switch on the news and attempt to sit up. A bright and noisy room signals that it’s time to start the day. I’m now trying to figure out how to avoid smacking the snooze button for two hours – it doesn’t take an expert to figure out REM sleep doesn’t occur when a buzzer obnoxiously shrieks every nine minutes from 6am until 8am.

I have tried and failed for years to ‘become a morning person’ and this year is the year I make it happen…no matter what!


Blast Fat With Fun: Three Winter Wonderland Outdoor Activities

Fri, 01/21/2011 - 9:59AM by the13thmile 0 Comments -

As much as I use the gym as a necessarily evil, especially during the winter months, I try to avoid over-exposure to indoor cardio machines. My school of thought is that fitness should be fun or we won’t want to do it. Sure, there are days where workouts are just hard work, but they should be altered with pleasurable activities or we won’t stick to our plans. Whenever possible, I try to use the current season to my advantage and tie my workouts to that season. Summertime makes it easy – from tennis to rollerblading there are many outdoor cross-training activities to take advantage of. But what are some outdoor activities to enjoy during the winter weather? If you love to take advantage of ice, snow and overall winter beauty here are a few suggestions.

Ice Skating – From a deserted lake in the woods, to the crowds of central park, there ice skating is available all over the country. Even if you live in sunny Florida, there are indoor ice rinks. Ice skating activates completely different muscles, including the inner thighs and glutes – two areas that can be difficult to tone. There is also the balance component to skating – lean your weight on one leg, then the other slowly, feeling how centered your balance can be. I’m certainly not a figure skater (I’m a known klutz), but as an ex-ballerina and a yogini-in-training, I’ve found skating can center the body while still blasting fat.

Skiing – A day on the slopes torches thousands of calories and leaves thighs with that lovely I-killed-some-fat burning feeling. The best part about skiing is that it’s so much fun, you don’t realize you’re working your body…hard. By lunch, you’re hungrier than you ever are at lunch and by dinner, you might be ravenous from hours of carving turns. In my opinion, the best weight-loss plans involve fun activities. If hanging out with friends while skipping a day at the gym qualifies as fat-burning, skiing is my favorite way of doing it.

Shoveling – Not known for its fun factor, most look at shoveling as a necessary evil. It doesn’t need to be – put on some headphones, and zone out to your favorite music while clearing the driveway. Look at it from a positive light instead of a chore and the task will fly by quickly. This dreaded activity burns over 150 calories per half hour. Be a friendly neighbor and shovel your neighbors walkways – your body and your neighborhood will be grateful. You won’t feel cold because you’ll be breaking a sweat under your layers. In my opinion, snow is pretty and should be enjoyed – why look at it as inconvenience when it can be turned into a workout?

There are dozens of other winter activities, from snowshoeing to cross-country skiing. Find out what yours is and get out there as much as you can. You might cheer up from getting out of an enclosed house, and into the sun while doing your body the favor of outdoor exercise.


Q&A with: Heidi Reichenberger McIndoo, Author of When to Eat What

Tue, 01/18/2011 - 10:19AM by the13thmile 0 Comments -

when to eat what



In her book, When to Eat What, Heidi Reichenberger McIndoo, MS, RD, LDN provides practical advice on how to lose weight in a healthy way.

She picks apart the tough eating scenarios from the daily lives of busy individuals balancing families, jobs and other responsibilities. We all know the basics of eating healthy, but throw a few long days in a row into the mix, and how can we prepare our food in a healthy way, get to the gym, and still make sure our body is recieivng the proper nutrients?

This book provides the practical advice that answers those tough questions. For example, one of the many Q&A pages in the book tackles this issue:

I like to exercise after work, but often find myself dragging by the end of the workout. How can I get the energy I need to exercise without feeling weighed down?

Heidi’s answer includes a few tips like staying hydrated throughout the day while at work, and planning an afternoon snack at work that includes some fiber and protein.

“Eat it halfway between lunch and  your workout to ensure that your snack is digested  and absorbed for your body to use.” Heidi wrote. She also included these three snack ideas:

  • Mini whole wheat pitas with hummus
  • An apple with peanut butter
  • Nonfat plain or vanilla yogurt with nuts and fruit

The book is a blend of recipes, advice on timing of meals and what to do in special circumstances (BBQ, traveling for work, weddings, alcohol, how much fat to eat, etc.)

The overall message is that no food should be restricted from your diet, and that everything in moderation is the most nutritious way to diet. Even some fat is necessary for proper nutrition absorption. Recently, I asked Heidi a few questions about something called ketosis, which is the body burning fat for energy – instead of carbohydrates. Like any diet that excludes a nutrition group (in this case, carbs) Heidi did not recommend putting the body into ketosis. Below, are some of her thoughts on the subject.

Eliminating an entire nutrient can be dangerous and leave one feeling deprived. The best method for healthy weight loss with long term maintenance is to eat moderate portions of a variety of foods throughout each day while exercising on a regular basis.

Limiting excess calories, drinking water, and eating small meals can help promote weight loss and no, those steps are not unhealthy.

Carbohydrates are your body’s major source of energy, in fact, approximately 50% of your daily calories should come from carbs, so moderate portions of them spread throughout the day is perfectly healthy.

I don’t recommend this practice.  Instead I believe it’s healthier and more long lasting to eat moderate amounts of a variety of lean protein, whole grains, fruits, veggies, healthy fats, and low fat dairy foods throughout the day while striving to be active at least 30 minutes a day.

*Full disclosure: The copy of  When to Eat What that I read was sent to me as a review copy by the author.


How You Can Use Food Network to Spice Up the Treadmill Workout...And Dinner!

Sun, 01/16/2011 - 2:51PM by the13thmile 0 Comments -


Food Network Chicken Carrots Recipe


The treadmill is one word: booooooorrrrrrrrring. Be honest. How much do you actually like the treadmill? I despise it, yet due to my inability to resist food, must spend hours using it. Might as well combine something I love (food) with the dreaded treadmill hamster wheel. If you're looking for a time when you can fully focus your attention on learning new cooking techniques, when better than during a treadmill run? This is especially helpful for those adjusting to a new lifestyle of eating, and for those looking to add new flavors, kitchen tricks and spices.

It might sounds like a contradiction to watch chefs design the very delectable treats that cause me to need the extra hour on the treadmill, but by watching Food Network at the gym, I am able to completely focus on the show. My attention isn’t pulled in several directions like it is at home.

As a captivated runner, I watch the chefs prepare their recipes from scratch – from Grilled Salmonto broiling kale (best recipe I’ve made in a long time!) or making an amazing meatloaf. The Food Network chefs actively teach viewers. I’m tuning in to spice up my low-fat cooking without dumping pounds of butter into each dish. (Paula Deen’s food looks amazing, but it is for cheat days!)

As we know, cooking, weight-loss and exercise all blend together into one intertwined plan. We know that what we eat affects our energy, our potential to binge-eat, and our ability to lose weight in a healthy way. For me, watching the pros season food is teaching me how to cook low-fat without cooking blandly.

Long over are the days of browned omelets! Thanks Chef Robert!

Nutmeg on greens? My new flavor secret. Thanks Rachel Ray!

Chopping vegetables the same size allows them to cook evenly? Thanks Chef Anne!

These are three tips that can help me – and you – shed pounds. When our home cooked food tastes good, we are less likely to eat something quick (aka fattening) on the go, and more likely to prepare all of our own meals, embracing leftovers. (Our bank account smiles at this as well) When we learn how to cook flavor-fully, we can fill up on veggies yet still appreciate bold tastes, textures and sauces.

My journey of learning how to cook delicious yet healthy food is an ongoing learning process but by doubling my workout time as cooking lesson hour, I am able to focus and really absorb what the chefs on TV are demonstrating.

Focusing on healthy food preparation while shedding calories is part of the route to lasting weight loss. In addition to my TV-while-running habit, I DVR cooking shows, which I play while cooking, research the recipes on the shows to fully understand the ingredients, and read countless cooking magazines. Learn how to cook in an interesting yet healthy way today, and spend less time on the treadmill tomorrow!





YOU, Yes YOU Can Run a Half-Marathon

Wed, 12/29/2010 - 12:47PM by the13thmile 0 Comments -
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Photo Courtesy of: Library of NSW

There are runners who are competitors. Against others. Against themselves.

I am confident that many others share this attitude when it comes to long distance running. Hearing of superstars who tear through consecutive six-minute miles can cause intimidation. We think – I can’t run that fast! I could never do a half marathon.

If there is anything I have learned from my experiences training, from talking to so many other runners these past few months and from my own personal beliefs about goal-setting: ANYONE can run a half marathon.

ANYONE. Yes, you, who hasn’t been to the gym since Bush was still president. Yes, you, the person who can only run three miles (like me three months ago). Yes, you, the person who claims you are “too busy to train”.

Saying you’re tired, busy, out-of-shape, don’t know where to start…these are all excuses. Excuses you will snap in half – one step at a time. One mile at a time. Put one foot in front of the other. Keep doing it. And soon…you will hit 13 miles. Of course, I’m breaking it down to its most basic steps, but training is really that easy.

Granted, I’m not the roadrunner. I’m slow – My pace is around a ten-minute mile. I’m not perfect in form, in training, in anything else.  But the one thing I’ve got? Persistence. I don’t ever give up. I keep pushing forward. In my mind, there are two things you need to train for a half marathon: The goal of crossing the finish line and the persistence to not give up. Do you have those things? Then start lacing up your sneakers.

  • § When building mileage: Take that extra half mile with each training session
  • §
  • § Once you are comfortable with the mileage: Run that extra half mile (instead of walking) with each training session
  • § Listen to your body – Never push to the point of injury

My first official race is ten days from today, but for the past five weeks, half marathon distance runs have squeezed their way into my weekends. I want to tell you how easy it is to just cross the finish line. I want to encourage everyone who reads this post to share it with your friends who think they can’t do it.