Hi everyone! I’m happy to announce that I’m not a Thanksgiving virgin anymore
Yesterday we had the most wonderful day. Bobby and I woke up at 6:45 am, had our lime water and got ready to go to the Turkey Trot to run 4 miles in a 30 degree weather (-1F). It was a beautiful winter morning with not even one cloud in the sky… perfect for Bobby’s first race!
We got to the park and waited in the car for about 15 minutes with the heat on. When we got to the start line I needed to use the porta potty (because a race is not a race without using them, right runners?) and of course the line was super long.
Freezing on the porta potty line
We successfully made it to the start line right before the national anthem and before we even noticed we were running with the crowd. There were people of all ages: kids, adults and grandpas. Everyone was running with a smile on their face! People had funny turkey outfits and hats and it seemed like everybody was enjoying themselves.
The route was very pretty. We even went through a beautiful trail that I didn’t even know it existed.
Bobby on the trail
I stayed with Bobby the whole time because I didn’t want to miss that special moment of him crossing the finishing line for the first time! Surprisingly he loved it so the next goal will be a 10K
At the end we ran into some friends including my fast girlfriend Andrea who got 1st. place on her category!
Andrea and I, happy to be done!
After the race we came home, showered, had breakfast and took a nap. Then we went to my mother-in-law’s who had been cooking since tuesday and this is just a sample of what was waiting for us:
Amazing, right? She cooked for over 20 people and of course I had to try it all!
There was also a beautiful dessert table that I didn’t get a picture of with cupcakes, coconut cake, banana nut cake and cookies.
When we got there we enjoyed some time with our loved ones, then we all hold hands, said what we were thankful for and then prayed together. I feel so blessed in so many ways that I can be writing here all day, but mainly I’m thankful for the health and happiness of my family and new family; for my wonderful husband and for the chance that I have to do what I love the most which is live a healthy life and inspire others to do so.
Bobby and I post-dinner
It was such a perfect day!
Last (but not least), I wanted to share with you these 2 images that made me laugh really hard yesterday, hope you get a kick out of them too!
My brother sent me this one saying that was me LOL! And the one below I saw it somewhere on FB and thought it was pretty hilarious
As I’ve shared with you before I’m very excited because this year I’ll get to experiment my first real Thanksgiving. I keep asking everyone in my new family what is a traditional Turkey Day like and they all get so excited explaining me… it’s very cute!
Basically, what they say is that my mother in law will cook the most delicious food, we’ll eat a lot, watch football, then eat again, go to bed, wake up and go back to eat some more… wowwwww! For some of you this sounds pretty normal but to me that’s a lot of eating I’m excited about the seasonal greens, the turkey and, of course, all the delicious dishes that I’ve never tried before.
Thanksgiving Dinner (photo credit: blog.weddingpaperdivas.com)
Since this is more less how most of American’s Thanksgiving Day look like, I have come up with some simple tips that will help you not to overstuff your face with food so you don’t have to pay for it later on.
1. Try to workout Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday so you feel lighter on Thursday.
2. Sign up for a Turkey Trot near your area, even if you are just a walker (they do this type of event almost everywhere in the U.S.) This will force you to exercise that morning before your family event, plus they are usually to benefit some sort of non-profit organization.
3. Eat something before heading to your festivities, this way you won’t be starving and eating more than you should.
4. Make greens and lean protein the center of your plate and try to avoid sweets and heavy sides, or if you want to indulge serve yourself a small portion.
5. Eat slow and chew each bite 20-30 times. This will help you identify when you are really satisfied.
6. Drink a glass of water between each glass of wine/beer/alcoholic drink to avoid a hangover and to keep your body hydrated.
7. The following morning go for a walk, jog or bike ride. The fact that the gym might be close is not an excuse to not sweat all the excess from the day before.
These tips can be applied to the rest of the holidays and remember throughout the day what THANKSgiving is all about… Give THANKS before diving into your plate!
As I mentioned on a previous post my running goal for the end of 2013 was to PR in a half marathon during the Fall. I thought it was a good goal because, since I was getting married, moving to a different state, traveling with my husband and starting to study towards my health coach certification, training for a half marathon was going to require less time than training for a bigger race.
So I picked the Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Marathon & 1/2 Marathon that was taking place on November 9th as my Fall race and started training 13 weeks before the big day. I did some speed work, tempo runs and three longish runs: two 11 milers and one 12 miler. I was feeling good but, as the day approached, I realized that I was not running as fast as I should have if I wanted to break the 1:40 mark.
Thursday November 7th came and I went to the expo to volunteer with some of my friends from the Savannah Striders at the registration area. Everyone seemed so excited about the race and the whole space was filled with so many good vibes that I started playing with the idea of changing to the full marathon… What did I have to loose? I knew I was not going to PR on the half so worst-case scenario I’d have to retire on mile 20 and wouldn’t finish any of the races.
Tara, Brian, Debbie, Sherry, Pam and I volunteering at the expo
For those of you who are not familiarized with the extensive training that running a marathon requires, all you need to know is that you should complete at least three 20+ miler sessions before the big day in order to be prepared and, as I mentioned before, I’ve just ran a 12 miler up to that day (the last time I ran more than that was on April 15th at the Boston Marathon – 7 months ago).
I talked to my running coach/president of my running group/friend Tharon and he said that he believed I had the strength in me to run the full marathon. He told me to just take it easy and to run for the fun of it. Then, I talked to my friends Mark, Tara and Jim who motivated me and encouraged me to do it. Tara even told me I should run it with her and our friend Natalia who was running her first marathon.
I thought to myself that if I ran it with the girls at their pace, which is a bit slower than mine, I should be able to finish it… So I switched to the full marathon. Minutes later, my husband called saying that he had a little accident at the gym so I had to run back to the house and take him to the ER.
That night I realized I needed to start carbo-loading so I had a delicious whole-wheat veggie pizza and started increasing my liquid intake. On Friday I took it easy, ran some errands and then Natalia had us at her house for dinner! We had a great time and, of course, we ate pasta! She had many different sauces, fruit waters and whole wheat bread.
Heather, Mark, Natalia, Sam and I before dinner
When we got back home I organized everything I needed for my race and then went to bed. It was hard to fall asleep… I was sooo nervous because this was the first time I was going to show up at the start line of a big race without training!
The big day came, Mark picked me up and when we got to our corral I couldn’t find Tara and/or Natalia. I started to freak out a little bit because I knew that without them I’d probably not finish the race… I knew I needed someone to push me.
Mark and I in our corral (he is one of my biggest inspirations)
To my relief, before we hit the mile 1 marker I ran into them! The sun was shining, it was around 50 degrees and surprisingly there were a lot of people cheering in the street (more than 3 years ago on the inaugural race). Tara and I were talking the whole time, no music needed…
All smiles with my pacer Tara around mile 6
We went through downtown, some beautiful neighborhoods and through the Savannah State University campus, which was by far my favorite part! The marching band was out there; there were athletes, cheerleaders and tons of students cheering like crazy… We even found a Venezuelan flag!
Natalia and I with our country’s flag
Without even noticing we hit mile 23 and, even though my legs were hurting a little bit, I felt very energized. I decided I was going to pick up my pace and Tara went back to get Natalia to push her during her last miles since she was a little behind us.
I started running a little bit faster, ran into my friend Andrea and joined her for less than a mile. I kept going and, to my surprise, I finished my Marathon #4 in 4:20:09!!! What an amazing feeling! Even though this has been my slowest time on a marathon I think it is the one I feel more proud of.
Marathon #4 is officially under my belt
Natalia, Sam and I proudly holding a Venezuelan flag
When I finished the race my day was just starting! My husband was waiting for me at the park with chocolate milk and other snacks. When we got to our temporary house he had congratulation signs all over, flowers, a card and dark chocolate. Feeling the support of my love ones is priceless and is one of the main things that keeps me going… What a great day!
I don’t recommend what I did to anyone, but I have to admit that I feel amazing! I’m sure that all the yoga helped me physically and mentally throughout the race.
Now my next challenge is a 26.2 mile race in February. This full marathon mileage is divided into 5 different races that take place in less than 24 hours. How am I going to train for that? I’m still trying to figure it out, but I know it’ll be fun!
November is HERE! Crazy right? And with it come Thanksgiving, many Turkey Trots, maybe a Fall race and, of course, setting the intentions for the month.
To me, the intentions I set every month are tiny steps towards a bigger goal: BECOMING THE BEST VERSION OF MYSELF. The idea is that when you set an intention you do everything that is in your power to do it until it becomes second nature so you incorporate it to your daily life… You don’t want to do something great for yourself just during a specific month and then forget about it.
So for November I set 2 intentions:
1. I’ll eat a rainbow (or almost a rainbow) in every meal: I want to make sure I’m eating tons of fruits and veggies every time I sit down to enjoy a meal. I always eat them but I believe I could benefit from adding more organic produce into my diet.
2. I’ll chew more: I want to become more conscious of everything that I’m putting into my body so, by slowing down my pace and taking the time to eat consciously I’ll be more thankful for everything that is on the table.
RainbowFULL meal: beef taco in a brown rice tortilla with homemade salsa, homemade guac & black beans
A previous intention that I’ve successfully incorporated into my daily life is practicing more yoga. I mentioned in a previous post that I practiced for four years and like two months ago I decided to get back to it because of the great benefits it brings me:
- It keeps me grounded
- It calms me if I feel anxious
- It increases the flexibility of my muscles
- It helps avoid injuries caused by running
- It helps me be present
Yoga @ Home
November is a month packed with good things for me, and probably also for you (as all months should be). I want to share some things that make me happy and that will be happening in my life the next days:
1. Last big race of the year: I’m running a ½ marathon this Saturday in which, when I started training, I wanted to PR (1:42 min. or less). Things have changed. This summer has been very active/crazy for me, so training was more of an experiment and not a priority. I’m ready to go out there and have a good time with the rest of the running community.
Talking about community, I’m volunteering at the race Packet Pick-Up. I feel that running has helped me become a better person, it has brought me great friendships and memories along the way, has showed me that there’s no limits and that we are capable of achieving any goal we have if we are determined to do so. To me, a great way to give back to the sport is to volunteer and that’s something I want to start doing more. I’ve just volunteered once in the Chicago Marathon and it was such a rewarding experience! I met great people and the good vibes were very contagious. Give it a try! Maybe running is not your sport but giving back to your community is something that everyone could benefit from.
I’ll do another post about the race next week when it’s over… We have a lot of events because of the race so I’ll do a recap of the whole weekend.
Volunteering at the Chicago Marathon 2012
2. We are moving!: we’ve been rebuilding our house for the past ten months and it’s almost ready. I’m very excited because I feel it’s going to be a fresh start to my husband and I as a family. The house is beautiful, we’ve put a lot of love into it and I can’t wait to give it our special touches. It’s been a long process but I know it’ll be totally worth it.
3. Thanksgiving: this year will be my first official Thanksgiving celebration! I’ve been in the U.S.A. for almost 4 years but have never gotten to experience this holiday because I’m not American and didn’t have a family to spend it with (there’s no Thanksgiving in Latin America). Since my new family is originally from here I’ll get to celebrate this beautiful tradition. I’m very excited because, although I know what it’s about, I’ve never had a traditional Thanksgiving celebration.
What do you have going on in November? Have you thought about all the great things this month has to offer you?
One last thing I want to say is that from now on I’m going to start posting more… I know I’ve been really bad about it lately but trust me; it’s been a crazy summer! You’ll be hearing more from me… new recipes, stories and workouts!
Do you want to learn how to make healthy arepas? Check my second guest post for Mean, Green, Clean-Eating Teen here!
The beautiful Nat and I decided to write for each other’s blog once a month! How wonderful is that? So here is her post for November… Enjoy!!!
I am so excited to be featured on Claudia’s blog again! This time I have a recipe to share.
Since it is fall and nearing winter, I LOVE bringing out the Crockpot! It is a wonderful thing to open the front door after a long day at work or school and smell the aromas of a giant pot of chili, stew, or meat that has been slowly simmering all day. It really just warms your heart, and your soul!
Crockpot Turkey Stew for the SOUL!
1 lb lean ground turkey meat
¼ head cabbage, chopped
1 medium-large sweet potato
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped in rounds
4 medium brown or white mushrooms (about ¾ cups)
1 ½ cups frozen corn
1 cup frozen okra
Few handfuls leafy greens (baby spinach is what I used)
1 6oz can unsalted tomato paste
1 TSP red pepper flakes
2 TBSP dried basil, plus more for sautee
2 TBSP dried tarragon, plus more for sautee
2 TBSP onion flakes
½ TBSP garlic powder
½ TBSP chili powder
½ TBSP cumin
½ TBSP coconut oil
3-4 cups water (more or less, depending)
Pinch of black pepper and sea salt
1) In a large pan, heat coconut oil over medium high heat. Sautee the celery, onion and mushroom until tender. Once nearly done, toss in a pinch of dried basil and tarragon and let the flavors melt together. Set aside.
2) Chop up all your other veggies and place them into the crock pot. To the raw veggies, add the sautéed mixture.
3) In the same pan, over medium high heat add your meat. Chop it up with a wooden spoon a bit so it can slightly brown. Then, add ass much water as you can (usually about 3 cups) so that the meat is completely covered in the water. Cover, and let lightly simmer for a few minutes to create a nice broth.
4) Add the broth and meat to the vegetable mixture. This might be enough liquid. If not, fill the pan up a bit more and add it in the Crockpot.
5) Add the tomato paste, and mix the paste and seasonings well with the veggies and meat so that it is spread out. Don’t forget to also include your frozen veggies!
6) Cover, and let cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.
7) Right before serving, place the leafy greens into the mix and cover for a few minutes to let wilt. Mix and enjoy!
This is such a simple recipe, and perfect for anyone who is busy and on the go during these chilly months! Enjoy!
Check out my guest post for Clean Eating Teen!
I had the opportunity to meet Nat a few weeks back and I’m excited to be part of her blog!
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet a beautiful young lady with whom I have a lot of things in common. She is super motivated, have clear goals and dreams and when you talk to her it seems like nothing can stop her! After connecting by email we decided to write for each other’s blogs as guests, so here is here story…
Hey there guys! First of all, I would like to thank Claudia for this wonderful opportunity to be a part of her blog. She is an amazing, inspirational woman who I really look up to. I find it amazing that she keeps it a priority to keep fit and healthy even while busy!
My name is Natalie Wester, from the health blog Clean Eating Teen. I am a full time high school student from Texas. My collage level classes keep my busy with homework, and after school activities such as art or theatre take up my time as well. However, no matter what challenges I face, I do not EVER come up with an excuse to sacrifice any element of my fitness and health.
Living an active, healthy life is KEY to me keeping sane. I think that for anyone, it should be a top, if not #1, priority.
My dream is to become certified in holistic nutrition/holistic culinary arts, as well as to get my training done for yoga teaching. I plan to use my knowledge of these to write books and travel to educate others. I also would love to have my own cooking and health show at some point, and even open up a natural grocery store with my mother (who got me into the holistic lifestyle to start with, due to her negative view on Western medicine and an interest in using herbal remedies instead).
Right now, I am staying focused on gaining experience as well as publicity. I love meeting new bloggers and fit “foodies” (like Claudia! <3 ) whom I can relate to! It makes living this lifestyle so much more fun when I can enter-act with others who are just as passionate about it as I am.
The story of how I got into this lifestyle is by far not a straight path. I grew up in a relatively healthy household, luckily… we did not eat out much, and anything cooked at home really was COOKED. No frozen lasagnas or TV dinners were ever found in my house. However, by no means did that indicate we ate super healthy…
Some of the items we used were processed (canned items, bleached pasta, ext), but at the time we really were unaware of the harmful effects from ingredients we were oblivious to. I mean, heck… what was the difference between “whole wheat” or “bleached” flour anyways? We actually did not even read food labels for ingredients. Also, just like any American child, I was exposed to all sorts of pre packaged chips, sodas, and sweets to pack into my school lunches or use as snacks at home. However, I do admit that we did much better than most families, who constantly eat out and don’t even know how to use a stovetop.
The first major change I made in my diet was when I was in 4th grade. All my life I had (and occasionally still do) SEVERE stomach pain. After watching a few videos in science about health, I thought back on how my stomach reacted with different foods. I realized that each time I ate red meats (steak, bacon, ext), my stomach reacted the worst. I also was sensitive to oily, fried, greasy foods.
So, as an act of need to improve my digestion and amount of pain, I cut out red meats. It was done cold turkey, no “weaning off” slowly. Almost immediately I felt the results… my stomach problems lessened!
Since then, I have kept with this diet. However, at first, it still did not mean a “healthy” diet for me. Instead of chicken fried steak, I would just order chicken fried chicken. It took a few years before I gained knowledge of the world of fitness and what it REALLY meant, and how important it was, to keep up with a clean diet and active lifestyle.
Never was I overweight. Maybe a little baby fat, yes, but never obese. After starting middle school though, I became more sensitive to the shape of my body. I admired the sleek, muscular look I saw on the magazines, and found myself researching workouts and “how to loose weight”. (I know it sounds bad, such a young girl researching that! But I did not do it from vanity, I honestly did not know what else to look up. I now know that HEALTH is more important than losing weight.)
I first started working out with some bellydancing videos on Youtube. After losing a few pounds and being very pleased, I delved deeper… eventually I came across websites like Blogilates (a Pilates instructor with AWESOME workouts and is full of energy!) and The Gracious Pantry (a clean eating recipe blog). I became enlightened to the idea that what your body looked like was 80-90% diet, and the rest exercise. I heard about a book by Tosca Reno, “The Clean Eat Diet”, and read it right away. My life and mindset was changing so quickly!
Now, fast forward nearly five years, and I am living a life free of processed foods, and full of home cooked, nutritious and delicious ones. I work out daily and love every minute of it. I enjoy reading nutrition books for fun, and I am always looking into what other health bloggers as well as athletes do to keep up with a fit and wholesome life. Just a year or so ago, I started a blog of my own, “Clean Eating Teen”, which has blessed me with so many wonderful opportunities and experiences.
By no means have I learned all there is to nutrition, health, and fitness… I have made many stumbles to get to where I am now, and I know that many more are to come. Part of this is simply because I am human, the other part due to the fact that every day information and “well known” facts on heath are being reexamined and new ideas and evidence is found. (For instance, I used to think butter and other saturated fats were to be avoided like the plague. Now that I have done more research, I realize that saturated fats contain vital nutrients, as long as they come from a good source!)
Over all, I live the life I love. Learning to nourish my body with wonderful food and plenty of exercise has given me tons of energy and passion. Not to mention, it has made my skin clear, eyes whiten, and hair shine like never before (knock on wood!) I like the fact that I am different than my friends, who are living the typical junk food, lazy life of a teenager… because after all, I am the Clean Eating Teen!
Look for a guest post from the wonderful Claudia on my blog soon!
Last year while living in Chicago I ran into a girl I went to school with that was in the city just for the summer because her husband was doing an internship there (they live in Houston, TX.). All of you who live in a foreign country know how special is to find someone you know while being in a not-so-familiar place, so this girl and I (her name is Astrid) became really good friends in just a matter of months.
I felt a strong and fast connection with her that made me wonder: why weren’t we friends back in school? I’ve known her for at least 20 years and it took me around 18 to realize how many things we have in common and how comfortable I feel around her.
Astrid and I
This made me think of two things my mom always tells me: school friends are forever and life could surprise you when you less expect it. Most of my mom best friends are from her high school years and back in the days they were just classmates. With time we all evolve, our interests shift and these can bring us together or apart.
Anyhow, a couple of weeks ago I went with my husband to Houston because of his work. Astrid’s husband was out of town so she came to spend a whole day with me while my husband was working and then joined us for dinner and drinks. During the time we spent together we had the typical conversations that two girlfriends could have and then we talked about YOGA.
While living in Caracas, right before moving to the U.S., I practiced yoga very intensively. I’d go to 4-5 classes a week and even if I was traveling I’d look up yoga studios so I wouldn’t spend more than two days without practicing. I remember how peaceful I felt and how comfortable and happy I was with my mind, body and soul.
When I moved to Savannah, almost 4 years ago, I couldn’t find a studio that I liked so I started running more until I realized that it had been a year from the last time I practiced yoga. I tried to go to different studios here and there, not just to go back to that peaceful state, but also because I read/heard that it was a great thing to combine with running to avoid injuries. I didn’t have the same fulfilling experience, but I kept trying to go to yoga classes… like once every 3 months.
I brought up the yoga topic while talking to Astrid because I knew she had been practicing for a while and I wanted to see how she was feeling and if she had experienced any internal and external transformations… Of course her answer was YES. She told me how easy is for her to shift her thoughts from negative to positive and how good she feels mentally and physically. The way she spoke to me reminded me of the way I used to speak to other people while practicing yoga frequently. She definitely inspired me to go back and search for mi ideal yoga studio.
To my surprise I loved the first one I went to. I’ve been practicing about 3 times a week since then and I can already feel the benefits: I feel more calm, peaceful and happy. I feel I’m gaining more control over my body and mind and always leave the studio with a smile.
My favorite yoga styles are Baptiste and Ashtanga, but I’m looking into exploring other styles like Bikram. Give it a try! You might be surprised!