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Trail Running Tips For Newbies

Trail running As I’ve started this new running journey I have taken to the trails around Fort Collins.  I like the peacefulness of the trails and enjoy the added challenge of running on rocky uneven ground while going up an incline.  It’s hard, I kind of suck at it right now, and it’s glorious.  Trail running also makes me feel like a badass.

But I’ve learned a few things along the way.  Things that others don’t seem to talk about when they post tips for trail running or write up their experience with trail running.

Obviously I’m not a pro, I’m just a beginner trail runner but these are the things that I’ve learned during my experience so far.

Get trail running shoes

This seems like a no brainer but you’d be surprised how many people don’t and then end up with a twisted ankle. My shoes pictured above are not trail runners so don’t get those.  You need shoes with more stability and more cushion between your feet and the trail.  In those shoes pictured I can feel every rock and it’s not fun.  Plus they aren’t as stable as a trail runner would be.

Trails are uneven and rocky, some of the rocks might move on you as you run.  You’ll need stable shoes to handle the terrain and give you support.  Plus trail runners will have much better traction.  I’m currently in the market for some good trail runners.  Once I get some, I’ll share that experience as well.

Don’t tie your shoes too tight

You don’t want your shoes so loose that your feet are sliding around, that isn’t going to do you any good.  But tying them too tight means your foot won’t have the flexiblity to move around.  Remember you will be running over rocks and sometimes going up an incline.  Your feet need to be able to have full range of motion to be able to handle the terrain.  Tie your shoes too tight and you risk having your shins and calves cramp up as you run.

Also, make sure to pick up your feet!

With road running, we can get by with shuffling our feet as we run.  That kind of running on the trail will set you up for a tumble.

With trail running you really can’t shamble along because the trail is so uneven.  You have to make sure to pick up your feet so you don’t trip over a rock or something else.  The minute you stop picking up your feet, you’ll stumble.  Trust me, I’ve done it plenty of times!  Thankfully I haven’t taken a header on the trail.  That would be no fun!

Trail

Trail running is dirty business

Trails can be muddy but most often they are going to be dusty.  And trail dust gets EVERYWHERE.  It gets in your clothes, all through your shoes, and if it’s a breezy day, expect it all over you.

You’ll discover that you have specific socks just for trail running.  They will be easy to spot because they’re the ones completely stained with trail dust.  Trail dust does wash out but only so much.  It leaves skidmarks on your socks.   Once you take to the trails is when your trail sock collection begins.

You will encounter wildlife on the trails

Depending on where you live, this could be as benign as seeing deer while running, or it could be as serious as seeing rattlesnakes or bobcats on the trail.  Pay attention to your surroundings!  This is also why I am completely against listening to music or a podcast while running or hiking.  Even if you leave one earbud out, you still aren’t going to be fully aware of your surroundings and won’t hear a rattlesnake if you happen upon one. Getting people to quit music while running is harder than getting people to quit sugar.  But trust me, leave the music behind and just hit the trails and enjoy your surroundings.

Wear Sunglasses

Even if it’s not that sunny out, you will still be dealing with bugs and trail dust.  Especially if it’s breezy you want to make sure that your eyes are covered so no dust or small rocks get in your eye.  Speaking of bugs….

You will eat a bug

It happens, you’re breathing hard and then all of the sudden, UGH, down went a bug.  Don’t sweat it, take a drink of water and keep going.

Always take water with you

Unless you’re only running a short distance and by short, I mean like a mile, then you’ll need water.  It’s a trail so it’s going to be a little more challenging than just running around the block.  Trail dust (see, it is everywhere) can get in your mouth and throat.  Plus if you’re going up in elevation, you’re going to be exerting yourself more and will require more water.

Stopping to walk is OK

Some parts might be too rocky and unstable to fully run on.  Some parts might be a little too challenging at the moment to run.  Some parts the incline might be a little too steep. Stop and walk it out.  No shame in taking a small walk.  Better to walk until you have more stable footing than risk an injury or a fall.

If you’re thinking about hitting the local trails for running or if you’re just starting out, these are just a few things to keep in mind.  The main focus is your safety.  Always keep that in mind as you head out for your trail run and you’ll have a successful run!

Are you a trail runner?  Any lessons you’d like to share?

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Yogurt For A Healthy Belly

yogurt bowlYogurt is one of those grey areas when it comes to Primal eating.  Some are for it and some are totally against it since it’s dairy.  I’m Team Yogurt.

For those that have issues with dairy, yogurt is something that can be tolerated.  This isn’t the case for everyone, obviously, but for many yogurt can be a part of the diet.

Yogurt also provides us with healthy bacteria needed for digestion.  Yes we can get that from other fermented foods as well but I do feel that if it works for you, yogurt should be in rotation in your diet.

There’s no way to know if one can tolerate yogurt unless they eliminate it for a time (30 days is optimal) and then slowly reintroduce it.

I recommend going with Greek yogurt in the reintroduction phase.  Plain full fat (0% fat yogurt is not a good idea) Greek yogurt.  It has a little bit more protein plus you don’t have to worry about thickeners or added sugar (which can trigger digestion issues).

For myself, I have found that yogurt in my diet has been essential with getting my digestion back on track.  While I have been doing other things like limiting alcohol consumption (can lead to leaky gut) and drinking bone broth (helps heal leaky gut) to help heal my gut, I’ve also been having yogurt on the regular.

A typical yogurt bowl for me is yogurt + fresh fruit + almonds + coconut flakes (unsweetened).  I love fresh blueberries in the spring/summer months. If those aren’t available, I’ll go with some sliced banana.

If I don’t have yogurt for breakfast then I will have it in a smoothie at lunch.  The good bacteria boost it provides is helping my digestive tract heal and get healthy again.

For many yogurt can be helpful in healing the gut and getting digestion back on track.  It can provide the much needed bacteria to help balance out digestion and get things moving properly.

 

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All The Sleeps

restorative_sleep

I’m usually in bed each night by 8pm, 8:30 at the latest and asleep by 9pm or 9;30pm.  Yeah on a few rare occasions I might be up later but not often because I will not have quality sleep if I go to bed any later.  Leaving me feeling like crap the next day which is not worth it.

Is this early? Yes.  Are most people stunned when they hear this?  Absolutely.  Do I give a flip what others think? Not at all.

The biggest question I get asked is, “How do you manage to get to bed so early?”  And my answer is because sleep is a priority for me.

Not sleeping well throws my whole system out of whack.  Digestion goes off track and sleep quality decreases.  I wake up more during the night while having trouble falling back to sleep.  The next day I feel like a zombie and have trouble focusing on projects.

Early for me used to be 9pm and I would read until 10pm.  But as I get older I’m finding that 9pm is too late.  Oh I’m sure I’ll be the stereotypical retiree who is in bed by 7pm each night and I’m OK with this.

When clients tell me they have trouble getting to bed early, I’m upfront with them about it.  I don’t sugar-coat when I’m coaching.  The reason you are having trouble getting to bed early is because you are not making sleep a priority and not deeming it as something important to you and your health.

Just like with meal planning and exercising, sleep should be considered important and if need be, put it in your schedule.  Everyone is “busy”.  Everyone has stuff to do.  But in order to work at our best we need that downtime in the evenings.  Body and mind need that time to rest.

So I’ll brush off the comments when someone makes fun of my early to bed routine because I know that I’m doing what’s best for me.  And in the end, that is all that matters.

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Giving Up Coffee

Delicious Obsessions Herbal Coffee

Scott and I have given up coffee.  Yup.  And it wasn’t an easy decision to come to either.  We talked about it at great length before we decided to make the plunge.

Since I’m in the process of working towards healing my digestive tract and dealing with very mild (super mild) adrenal fatigue, I decided I needed to cut coffee out.  It can be a gut irritant and can also be taxing on the adrenals.  In order for me to fully heal my gut, coffee needed to go.

I was never one who needed the caffeine. I just liked the whole process of morning coffee.  It smelled good and I really enjoyed having a warm mug of something to start the day.

Recently Scott and I went a day without coffee and both of us ended up getting horrible headaches later that day.

UGH

I don’t want to be dependent on coffee! Since this never happened to me before, I realized that I’m not OK with my body being dependent on caffeine.  That is when we decided to cut out coffee for the time being.

I cut it off cold turkey and just dealt with the headaches until they were no longer an issue.  Scott went a little slower and eased off of coffee.  He’s now coffee free.

I alternate what I drink in the mornings, sometimes it’s a big mug of chicken stock and sometimes it’s herbal coffee. I found a really great coffee substitute made by Delicious Obsessions.  I blend it up with some almond milk and a little coconut oil for a big frothy mug.  If you’re looking for something that won’t give you the coffee jitters, this is the stuff!  So good!

Is coffee gone from my life forever? Nope.  Only for a time while I work on getting healthy again.  I’m sure it will make an appearance every now and then when a good mug of coffee sounds great or if we’re out to breakfast.

The main goal for both of us is that we do not want to be dependent on coffee to make it through the day.  Secondary for me is gut health.

Once we both feel comfortable adding coffee back in on occasion then it will be a little treat some mornings.

Do you drink coffee and would you ever give it up?

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What Being Primal Means To Me

Roasted Carrots

Scott and I’s transition into a Primal lifestyle was a slow one.  I probably kicked and screamed a little on the way too because when I was first introduced to this way of life I was not on board.  I probably even made fun of it.

That was until I stopped working out, drank too much beer, and wrecked my health along with my digestive tract. Both Scott and I gained too much weight.  Our sleep was affected, I was unhappy, and my digestion was not normal.

Last spring I did a Spring Clean Eats challenge where I omitted some things and it was sort of like a modified Whole 30.  We did well and I learned that I really like eggs and protein in the mornings.

But not long after we fell back into old routines and it was like nothing changed.

Fast forward to the end of the year and I was over feeling like crap.  OVER IT.  Along with exercising, I decided it was time to get my diet and digestion under control.  I turned towards the Primal/Paleo community because they embrace whole real foods and promote digestive health and healing.

No other community does this in a way that I can relate to.

Since January of 2015, Scott and I have adopted more of a Primal lifestyle and we are definitely seeing the benefits. Everything is improving; weight, digestion, and sleep.  Scott now even comes to bed earlier and gets up earlier in the mornings.  A feat I never thought I would see!

We lean more towards Primal than full on Paleo.  We can tolerate high quality dairy in the form of yogurt, cheese, and butter.  Scott can even handle grass-fed milk.  We also tolerate white rice and incorporate that into our diets as well.

Beans, Wheat, Soy, and other Legumes are out.  Corn, while technically a grain, we can handle in small amounts.

I thought I could handle beans but the last time I ate a few bites I bloated up like crazy.

For me, Primal is a lifestyle and not just a way of eating.  It focuses on:

  • Eating whole nourishing foods while avoiding foods that can cause inflammation or gut irritation.

  • Exercising each day and moving my body with intention.

  • Spending time outdoors.

  • Making Self-Care a priority and not a luxury.

This is how Scott and I live our lives and it’s made such a world of difference. I don’t preach and I don’t really talk about it with others unless asked.  However, with my health coaching clients, it is the lifestyle I focus on with them since I feel it is the most healing and the most nourishing.

My whole outlook on life has since changed.  I’m inspired to be back in the kitchen cooking kick-ass meals and experimenting with foods.  My confidence has built back up, I’m happier, and I’ve been able to incorporate some running into my life again (more on this in another post).

I wouldn’t be in this position had I not decided to make a change and take charge of my health.

 

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On Health Coaching

It’s been a long while since I’ve talked about health coaching.  I feel like for some they may think this is coming right out of left field and the truth is that I’ve been a health coach for several years.

This blog originally started out as a place to share recipes and discuss my journey (and also my husband’s) towards better health and nutrition. Because I fully believe that we can heal ourselves with the foods that we choose to eat, I pursued schooling to become a health coach.  I took on clients and I helped people get back in the kitchen.

A lot happened in 2012, this was a big year for us and I was feeling all out of sorts.  I was struggling with running, struggling with a new dog that has a lot of baggage (Oh Avery, he’s a special guy.), and struggling finding my place.

I feel off the wagon.  It happens.  I have a feeling that almost everyone goes through something like that at some point in their lives.  Because I was struggling, I felt like I could not be in a position to help others so my coaching dropped off.

I went from being a super active and fit half-marathoner to not.  I was in a state where I was just existing and not really living life.

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December of 2014 was a wake up call for me.  I was tired of not sleeping well, tired of feeling like shit, and tired of making excuses to not workout.

I got my ass in gear.  Just like that.

Now I exercise almost daily, I eat well, and I feel 100 times better and more confident that I did.

I couldn’t have done this without support though.  Support is key.  This made me realize that I’m sure there are others going through the same thing and who are looking for support.  Change is hard and we can’t always do it alone.

So here I am back on track and back to doing what I feel is important. Back to doing what I’m meant to be doing, helping to support and build others up.

Being a health coach isn’t just something I’m all of the sudden tossing out there.  It’s about me getting back to me and therefore helping others be the best they can be.

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April Goals

Trail

I haven’t done monthly goals in quite some time but I have a lot going on this spring and setting up goals will help me stay on track.  Here’s what I’m focusing on for this month.

Getting up at 6am during the week

I’ve struggled with getting back into a routine where I am getting up at 6am in the mornings.

I am a morning person.

This does not mean that I am chipper and ready to offer you conversation and a smile.  It’s best if you don’t even talk to me in the mornings.  By “morning person”, I mean that I prefer to get up and get my day started.  I like exercising first thing in the morning and I’m also way more productive in the mornings.

Since I haven’t been getting up early to start my day, production levels for me have tanked and I am finding that I’m running out of time to get everything done that I would like.

I have successfully got back into the routine of getting to bed early but sometimes if I don’t have a good sleep then getting up early doesn’t happen.  No excuses this month though! I have someone I check in with each morning to let them know that I’m up and ready to start the day.  I also make sure that I’m in bed early with plenty of time to read before it’s lights out.

Running several times a week

I chatted before about giving up the runner label.  I had to do this because I wasn’t in the space mentally and physically to run.  Despite my best efforts it was not happening.

I missed it though.  Very much.

A few weeks ago on a whim I decided to try running again.  I alternated between running and walking on a trail and I did great.  Better than I thought I would do.  Which sparked in me the desire to try running again.

At the moment I’m sticking to trails and ones that are very flat (no inclines at all) as I work towards getting my running legs back and developing my breathing.  So far it’s been going well and I’m up to two miles.

Going full on Primal with eats

If you follow me on Instagram, then you’ve seen a recent uptake on posting my daily eats. It’s a lot easier to share my meals via that platform verses spending time writing out a full blog post about it.  Scott and I have been following a mostly primal diet for a while now with a few non-primal things thrown in because we can tolerate them.  Well this month we’ve decided to go full on Primal.

As I work towards healing my gut and getting us back on track with our healthy lifestyle, I’ve realized that eating Primal makes me feel the best and is the most beneficial towards gut health.  Scott is on board, of course, because he’s not the one making the meals!  But the truth is, both of us enjoy a more primal lifestyle.  We feel more satisfied and fulfilled.  If you asked me about going primal three years ago, I would have told you that was crazy.  Now I get it.

One thing this year has taught me so far, is to never say never.

Those are my April goals!  What are you working towards this month?

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For The Love of Roast Chicken

Roast Chicken

When people find out that I cook (a lot) or that I do recipe development, one of the first questions they ask is, “What is your signature dish?”  A close second being, “What is your favorite thing to cook?”

This always left me stumped and scrambling for answer because the truth is that I like to cook all the things.  I don’t have a signature dish or a cuisine that I like to focus on.  I enjoy it all.

However, this week, I realized that probably my favorite thing to make is a roast chicken.  There is something very elegant and classy about a great roast chicken.  It also looks fancy even though it’s so easy to make.

I try to roast a chicken once a week and usually on Friday evenings.  That’s my idea of a great Friday night.  In my jammies, a chicken roasting away in the oven, and sipping on a glass of wine while I prep veggies and the side dishes.

That’s how I like to unwind after a long work week.  I don’t want to go out or really interact too much with others.  I want time to relax in my own space making a great dinner.

So I guess the next time someone asks me what my favorite thing to make is, my answer will be a lovely roast chicken.

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Making Stock In The Slow Cooker

Slow cooker stock

I used to make stock on the stovetop with a huge pot that simmered for about 4-5 hours.  I started off with six quarts of water and would only end up with about 3 quarts of stock.

It took me a long time to try making stock in the slow cooker.  I think a part of me was afraid that it wouldn’t turn out right but friends, I was wrong.  Oh so very wrong.

The first time I made stock using the slow cooker was last Thanksgiving and I will not be going back to the old method at all.

I don’t have a pressure cooker or an Instapot so for me, the slow cooker is the best method for getting the most flavorful and rich stock.

Using my basic recipe for broth:

Bones + Veggies + Salt + Apple Cider Vinegar + Crapton of Water

I add all these things to my slow cooker and I fill the slow cooker all the way to the tippy top with water.  Put it on high and forget about it.  Once the liquid inside reaches a nice simmer (which takes about 6 hours), I turn the temperature to low and let that baby go for 24+ hours.

Yes, 24+ hours.

The house smells amazing and I end up with the best stock I’ve ever made.  When I get up in the mornings I’ll top off the slow cooker with more water to bring the level back up to the tippy top and give it at least another 6 hours.

I strain everything out and portion out the stock.  Typically I end up with about 5+ quarts of stock.  Chicken is my favorite but I’ve done this with beef and pork as well.

In fact, I just picked up some pork neck bones with my local hog share and I cannot wait to make some amazing stock out of that.  Pho in da house for daaayyyyzzz!

Some folks who use or drink stock on a daily basis will keep the slow cooker going for a week, topping off the water to replace what they remove.  I may try that if we get to a point where we are drinking stock on the regular but for now 24+ hours is perfect.

The best part (aside from the result!) is that making stock in the slow cooker means the house doesn’t steam up and I can move on to other things without having to babysit a big pot on the stove.

Now go make yourself slow cooker stock!

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Weekend Unplugged

 

Winding TrailScott and I had the most relaxing weekend.  Friday was my birthday and I tried to take the day off and enjoy some things l love.

That didn’t quite work out as planned, everything from getting a walk cut short to over cooking some steaks.  Bah! I wasn’t going to let that one day dictate how the whole weekend was going to be though.

Saturday we headed out because I wanted to hike Horsetooth.  I know it’s a popular trail but it is really pretty and we have yet to hike that whole trail.  We arrived and the trailhead was full so it was closed off.  We drove around and found another trailhead that was still open and decided to check it out.

So glad that we did!  We did about a 6 mile hike (out and back) and part of the trail was up a steep incline.  We weren’t able to go all the way to the top due to time constraints which was a bummer but we still had an awesome hike.  The weather was perfect with a slight breeze keeping us from getting too hot.

We came home and had a really comforting meal of meatballs and polenta.  No picture because I was too busy stuffing my face!

Sunday, the weather was even better! We had a sunny 80 degree day.  Scott and I, and the two punks, spent as much time as we could just lounging in the backyard soaking up all that glorious sun and warmth.

Saturday I rarely checked my phone and Sunday I didn’t even go on my computer once.

It was the perfect weekend.

Taking time to unplug and just be present and in the moment is so important.  I think sometimes we get so focused on staying up to date and trying to document everything we forget to actually live it.  One of the weekly challenges in my accountability group is taking time to unplug.

I love this idea so much that I will be running a challenge group focused on this concept.  The group will start in April and will be more introspective.  Instead of focusing on food we will working on self-care. Things like making sure to get enough sleep each night, taking time to unplug each day, and spending quality time with people we care about.

Self-care is so important for our heath and well-being!  I try to incorporate this into each day.  If you’re interested in joining my April challenge group just let me know!  It’s a free group, there is nothing to purchase.  It will run for 21 Days and we will be doing little exercises each day that are geared towards self-care and taking time to unplug.