Friday, September 30, 2011

Food Facts Friday: Probiotics and Prebiotics

I have a class called Meal Design & Management. In this class, we are assigned a population with some sort of problem, such as diabetes, cardiovascular or irritable bowl disease. For the last few weeks, we have been studying DM: diabetes mellitis. We have chosen recipes, designed a meal, determined the nutrient content for each ingredient and, finally, yesterday, we cooked, served and ate the meal. We had pasta with chicken and a salad.

Pasta with Chicken in a Light Tomato Sauce 

Frisee Lettuce with Feta Cheese and Low Cal Raspberry Vinegrette

While we were eating one of my classmates asked me how I manage my Crohn's disease - you know, from a nutritional perspective - 'cause her sister-in-law was just diagnosed (with Crohn's).

I felt a little awkward - it's never fun talking about an irritable bowl disease in front of anyone while they are eating - and there were five of us!

Meal Management & Design Group#2

I figured, 'Hey, it's cool - we're all nutrition majors - I'll just talk about probiotics and prebiotics.'

But, this is what I got:
What? What's a probiotic? What's a prebiotic? And what's the difference?
Are you guys for real?

Yeah, they were asking me what the difference was between probiotics and prebiotics.
And if they were confused, it is worth sharing, here - on Half-Crazed.

Prebiotics are non-digestible components of food (carbohydrates called oligosaccharides), which stimulate the growth and activity of good bacteria in our gut - large intestine, aka colon.

Okay, I mentioned gut, bacteria, intestines and colon...

These guys were not phased...
They were still eating! 
And I, was amazed! 

They wanted to know, "Like what?"

Okay.....prebiotics include stuff like 
  • Garlic and onions, mushrooms, artichokes and asparagus (even though it makes your pee smell - it's still a good prebiotic)
  • Oats, bananas and maple syrup, 
  • Beans and red cabbage
  • BEER - Since half of them are in their early twenties - their faces lit up with that honorable mention! 
Someone mentioned they heard dandelion greens were good, too. Yes, good mention - they can add a nice flavor to a salad - a little bitter, but a good bitter!

They weren't as confused about the probiotics - they knew that probiotics, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum, help colonize and increase the good bacteria in our gut.

Then I mentioned how the probiotics (good bacteria) compete for growth in our gut, for example they secrete antimicrobial chemicals that prevent harmful bacteria, like E.coli, and yeast from taking over - This is a 'good to know'  because this will  also help in the prevention of urinary tract infections.

I paused - waiting for signs of disgust...nope...

Still eating!
And I was (still) amazed! 

The probiotics also enhance our immune system. I asked them if they remembered learning how 50-60% of our lymph system surrounds our GI tract... again, I got:
I guess soo...
Yeah, well, it makes sense to keep your gut healthy because your lymph system surrounds your gut - since our digestive system & our lymph system is so connected, it makes sense that a healthy colony of probiotics in our gut will also improve our immune system and our immune system responses.

Then, I mentioned that probiotics (deep breath girl, just say it really fast) decrease mucus secretions.
Held my breath, waited for an, "Ewww" Nope, they were good - and...

They were still eating! 
And I was still, so very amazed! 

Yogurt with Bananas (Blueberries & Strawberries) and Oats

So, you don't want to just eat foods 
with probiotics (good bacteria)
such as yogurt, 
milk enriched with acidophilus, 
or miso 
pairing them up with
foods the probiotics like to eat: the prebiotics. 

If your going to have yogurt, mix in some bananas and oats. 
If you are eating a salad, put some beans on top and make a miso salad dressing with honey:

Other benefits of having good intestinal bacteria include:
  1. Increase in production of Vitamin K, B2, B6 and folic acid, 
  2. Decrease in inflammation (who doesn't want/need this?) 
  3. Regulate pH of intestines (helps to prevent runner's trots)
So keep your digestive system healthy 
by eating the prebiotics and probiotics together and...

Train Smart Today!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Motivation, with a capital "M"

I often get the question, "How do you do all those miles? Don't you get bored?"


Abraham Maslow:
"If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life." 

Motivation is the driving force by which humans achieve their goals. Motivation is a process - something that leads to the forming of behavioral intentions.  According to Mirriam-Webster, the definition of motivation is something that arouses action or activity. Common synonyms associated with motivation include: encouragement, incentive, instigation, momentum, provocation, stimulant.

Motivation can be intrinsic - like when you are driven or enjoy something because it makes you feel good, happy, in control or successful. Motivation can also be extrinsic - when it's something other than your inner feelings that is your impetus: money, good grades, fear of failing, a crowd cheering you on towards the end of the race or your kid's congratulating you!

Motivation may even invoke your drive to exert self-control. Like avoiding consumption of empty calories:

I will not eat these chocolate chip cookies!

Our self-control can also be intrinsic: Like when you are hungry, but you choose not to eat empty carbs, aka chocolate chip cookies, and instead, choose an apple. And our self-control can be motivated extrinsically: you decide you will reward yourself with the free Dunkin' Munchkins that are being given out at the end of the 13.1 if you set a new PR!

Whether you are motivated intrinsically or extrinsically, doesn't really matter. What matters is that you associate a positive meaning to certain behaviors (like running, training, eating healthy, staying fit). If you have positive experiences when you exercise and eat healthy, you will want to repeat this activity.

Running makes me feel good. Feeling good is that positive reinforcement that gives me incentive to run more. I enjoy running for charities - What better excuse is there to run than to raise money for great causes and help others who are in need? In fact, check out my new donations PAGE, "Donations & Charites".
Running for Tuesdays Children - even in the rain!
Running also makes me feel as if I have balance in my life. Life is full of personal conflicts, physical, spiritual, domestic, social and economic problems - all types of imbalances. I see running as an opportunity to restore balance - work through the conflicts, maintain some sanity and problem-solve. 

I am always solving problems in my head while I run - I think I have even conjured up some great solutions to the World's most complicated issues! 
Hey - they all make sense while I am running!

Needs, self determination and goals also motivate us - like in the above quote by Abraham Maslow - if we are unsatisfied, we are going to be motivated to change. 

Goals help us to stay focussed and increase our efforts, which can lead to an improvement in performance.
(From your lips to God's ears, right?)

We also have a need to look good. Today, one of the woman I train with, asked me what I do for abs - She basically told me that she coveted my abs! Mind you - this is a woman who is in incredible shape! Hey - it's all good - she knows I covet her 1hour and 34minute 13.1 times! 

Well, I admit, I like staying fit because I like to look,!

NOT a good look for me - or my heart!
I don't believe everyone adopts these definitions on motivation. 
I think we need to reflect on what our exercise and healthy eating goals are, 
how much we value these goals and which motivational strategies (self-control, need, self-determination, incentive, drive, recognition, etc.) work best for us 
- to ensure we are involved in a process to reach our fitness goals. 

Train Smart Today!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Niantic Bay Half Marathon: 9/25/2011

At the risk of sounding like I am repeating myself, I couldn't get to sleep and I couldn't stay asleep. I always have pre-race jitters! Once we got to our hotel, I made sure I didn't forget anything:

I am always afraid I am going to forget something!
  1. EnduroxR4 Recovery Drink, check
  2. Gatorade, check
  3. Water, Check
  4. Roctane Gu, check
  5. Garmin watch and heart rate monitor, check
  6. Hat (Forgot my shades!), Check
  7. Vaseline, for "The girls" and "The Armpits"! No chafing here! CHECK!
We stayed in the Marriott in Norwich, Ct. It was very nice, very clean - and even though they do a great deal of business with the casinos, noise levels were also fine!
The Room was Clean and Comfy
I think I wound up sleeping a total of 5 and 1/2 hours. Not what I planned, but I couldn't stop thinking...Beat 1:40, Beat 1:40, Beat 1:40. That was the time I was shooting for because  Coach told me on Wednesday,  "Beat 1 hour and 40 minutes! Your strong. You can do it!"

So at 6AM, I started my mantra, "I can do it! I can do it! I can do it!"

Finally, got out of bed , got dressed and went to the lobby area where they served breakfast.
Not a bad little breakfast buffet!

Wing-man Securing Our Coffees!

Breakfast of Champions
Wing-man and I both had oatmeal. I also had some fresh fruit. The Marriott served Starbucks. I should have bought a cappuccino - I don't really like Starbucks regular coffee. It's too strong.

This is My Speed of Coffee!
Wing-man and I are DD fans! Thank goodness there was a DD truck at the half!
Anyone else on the same page with us, here?

The Niantic Bay area was beautiful:

The run was very scenic:
Rocky Neck State Park
And the people of Niantic came out in droves. They were cheering and waving everyone on  - it was so nice! All you saw throughout the entire race was hundreds of people working together to make sure runners were hydrated and safe. The community outreach was beautiful! (Even though there was no National Anthem at the start of the race - you all know how much I love to sing the National Anthem at the beginning of a race!)
The Pavillion at the Start of the Race
My only other pet peeve, besides no National Anthem, was that after we walked a few hundred feet to the Pavillion, we all noticed there were no Port-O-Johns! Aaagh! Everyone was doin' a Jay-Wow in the woods!

In their defense - there were portable toilets on the race  - something I don't ever remember seeing before. And the race was really well-run and very organized.

Well, after my own Jay-Wow experience, I was feeling so Jersey Shore...

C'mon honey, make a nice face...
Ready to break that 1hour and 40 minute ceiling!!!!

On your mark, get set, go.... 

The start of the race was a bit hectic, as everyone tried to funnel into Rocky Neck State Park and onto the footpath. About 1/2 mile in, it got a little better.

At the start!

I kept a 7:30 pace for the first seven miles, then, the heat and humidity started to take its toll. My pace dropped down to a 7:40. I even dropped to 7:50 during mile 8...and I was really pushing myself. I kept praying that I would find the strength to finish strong and finish fast!

Whatever I did, I had to catch this woman:

I introduced myself to her after the race, of course making a fool out of myself, "Do you remember me? I was yelling at you about how great you look!"

She smiled. I asked her if I could interview her - she was great - and agreed. I totally screwed up my ipad (I'm new at this). All I got was:

I am so very sorry. I so wanted to share with everyone what great shape Andy was in - and what a total inspiration she was to me during the race. I tried to catch her throughout the race - I just had to catch this woman who's body was that of an olympic athlete! Of course, during the race I did not know she was ten years older than me! WOW!

All I knew was that she ran her ass off, her form was great and I was going to keep up with her! Congratulations Andy for placing in your age group - I am so sorry I screwed up the ipad Interview :,(

After screaming to Andy how great she looked, I focussed on cutting more time off my race. I really pushed.

Wing-Man was screaming, "Your close, you can do this!"
I was close to breaking that 1 hour and 40 minute goal! 

I sprinted so hard during that last 1/10th of a mile that I was foaming at the mouth when I crossed the finish line. And what did I see: 1:40:XX.

I kept jogging for another 50 yard and then I lost it. I broke down and cried. I was sobbing like a little baby! I gave it my all...and I couldn't break 1hour and 40minutes! Aaaagh! How utterly humbling!

Aaah. Sixth in my age group with all I had! Wing-man and I decided to walk around while I drank my EnduroxR4 recovery drink. I am sure glad I brought the powder in the mixer because my hamstring and my calves started to cramp up on me. I just added some water and I was good to go exploring more of the park.

Rocky Neck State Park Picnic Area

Since my bib time got messed up, my time couldn't be recorded accurately - but The Granite State Race Services employees wrote down the top 20 females - and, I was one of them, so at least my finish was recorded - It wasn't the time I saw crossing the finish, but at least I got credit for the race!

Thanks Guys!
Train Smart Today!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Off to Connecticut for the Niantic Bay Half Marathon

Saturday Road Trip!
Off to the Niantic Bay Half Marathon in Connecticut!

The drive up was hard - I have three quizzes this week and I was studying, while my wing-man was driving...
Thanks, Wing-Man for being so supportive!

We stopped at Mohegan Sun, the casino in Uncusville, Ct and had some lunch - wow that place is beautiful! And it's huge - it is the second largest casino in the United States!

Connecticut is very pretty. These were some of our views on the way to Mohegan Sun:

I think this is the Thames River

That mirrored building in the back is Mohegan Sun!

There are three casinos at Mohegan Sun: The Casino of The Earth, The Casino of the Sky and The Casino of the Wind
Tiny bit closer shot of Mohegan Sun!

We parked in the west parking lot and walked into the Casino of the Earth.

Ceiling in entrance to The Casino of the Earth 

Mohegan Sun has beautifully captured tribal pictures and colors creating a magnificent atsmosphere.
Mohegan Tribe Pictures

Glass Blown Sculpture

The Casino of the Earth was full of huge waterfalls all over the entire casino.

There's even a waterfall behind a bar!

We stopped at Michael Jordan's Sports Cafe for lunch! It was super tasty!
BBQ Chicken Spring Rolls - Mmm Mmm Good!

The Michael Jordan's Sports Cafe is, of course a sports bar with a basketball flair. The leather on the back of the menu has a pebbled feel and looks just like a basketball. There are these huge wires from ceiling to floor that make it look as if you are in a huge basketball net.

Tried to get the wires in the photo
I thoroughly enjoyed the spinach salad with filet mignon - try it if you get a chance. Well, it was tempting, but I passed on the alcohol  - I definitely decided to ...

Train Smart Today!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Food Facts Friday: Scweddy Balls & FAT

So, last night, I went to my children's Back to School night!
Chaos in the hallways. Be sympathetic towards lost parents (aka., Me).

I am still in awe that I have two children in high school! I kept saying to myself, "Only three more 'Back to School' years left!" Wow...Just can't get that through my head.

Anyway, when I got home, my ninth grader couldn't wait to show me a Fox News report on Ben & Jerry's newest flavor:

He was cracking up, "Mom we gotta get this ice cream!"
He knows I love Alec Baldwin, 30Rock and of course, SNL, but I couldn't let those loves transfer to accepting and purchasing what Ben & Jerry's offers - so... I gave him my "usual eye rolling routine".

Then, I read the article on B&J's Schweddy Balls. With all respect to One Million Moms, I can see their point - they don't want there kids yelling out in aisle 13, "Hey Mom, can we have some Schweddy Balls, PLEEEZ?"
Why aren't One Million Moms yelling out, "Hey B&J's, stop promoting 'homemade' ice-cream with 10 grams of saturated fat!"

I am not kidding - this stuff is scary:

Holy Cow. Unilever, the company which owns Ben & Jerry's, (Yeah, I know, my bubble was burst too when I realized those two nice guys from Vermont sold their homemade ice cream business to a huge conglomerate), states that they are in life with us - as our "Life Partners" - touching our lives in so many ways....

Look, its in writing, Unilever cares for our well-being! It must be true...right? They are in our lives - for better... and for worse...

First, the better: B&J's Shweddy balls is sweet vanilla ice cream, with a hint of rum and fudge - this ice-cream helps Unilever keep their goal to promote Holiday Traditions and Fair Trade (ehem, Greenwashing).

And second, the worse: B&J's Shweddy Balls is full of 10 grams of saturated fat.

The AHA (American Health Association) recommends that we limit our saturated fat to less than 7% total daily calories.

Let's face it peeps, Heart Disease is the #1 cause of death in the USA. So, I am comfortable using The AHA's recommendation to make saturated fat 7% or less of of our daily calories.

  Only 1/2 cup of B&J's Shweddy Balls ice-cream 
67% (10grams/15grams) of your DAILY saturated fat allowance

If you eat the entire container (3&1/2 servings) that's 30 grams of saturated fat!
~C'mon, fess up, who hasn't been inclined to do that?~

So, are saturated fats that bad? 

Saturated fat is the stuff that raises your blood cholesterol levels, which increases your risk of heart disease  - the #1 killer in the USA!

What's a person to do? Stop eating fat? I'm not a sadist, here - of course not - but instead of buying and eating saturated fats, try some healthier fats:

Monounsaturated fats:
  • Replace saturated fats with monounsaturated fats, which can help reduce your cholesterol.
  • They are loaded with Vitamin E, a vitamin which many Americans are low in and provides antioxidant benefits (helps protect cells from free radicals that can lead to cancer).
  • Found in olive oil, peanut butter and avocados.
Polyunsaturated Fats:
  • Replace saturated fats, which can help reduce your cholesterol.
  • Composed of essential fats, such as Omega-6 and Omega-3, which are crucial (note to One Million Moms) in brain function and normal growth and development of the body.
  • Found in fish, such as salmon, trout and mackerel and nuts, such as walnuts and sunflower seeds.
Remember fat is fat, so even the good stuff - the monounsaturated and the polyunsaturated fats - should be used sparingly!

If you want to find out more on Fats and Oils, The American Heart Association has an excellent-user friendly website. If you scroll your cursor to the tab in the upper right, labeled "Fats & Oils", a menu will drop down - this menu provides great links to tons of additional information.

Buon Apetito and
Train Smart Today!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Warrior Woman"

Me? More about my eyes...please go on...

No, really, I met the most amazing person on the track today! Well, over the last year, we have bumped into each other - and I always see Coach talking to her - but we never officially met - until today.

After my four 100meter sprints and the three sets of two 400's at a sub-7' pace and two 100's at a sub-6:30' pace, I ran a one mile cool down. Knowing that I had to study AMDR's for Diabetes Mellitus, I thought, "Girl, you do NOT have time for the gym, just do your CORE work here!" So, I stretched and did some abs and planks. It was gross, I was sweaty and those little turf pellets were sticking to me: THEY WERE EVERYWHERE!
Even found them IN my shorts when I got home!
When I got up, to brush these pellets off - someone was standing next to me and she was telling me how great I looked - It was this woman - she stood about 5'0", maybe 95lbs - ALL muscle. I'm going to call her: Warrior Woman!

"Me?" I asked, "Have you looked in the mirror lately?"

Warrior Woman laughed and proceeded to tell me everything that was not right about her physical self and her training routine: She has too much back and shoulders - not enough legs, and no abs ... she loves to do pull-up, chin-ups and push-up...and should have more of a balance - like she sees in me ...

Now, mind you, Warrior Woman is in AMAZING shape, so I stopped her - in her tracks - and told her, "Now give yourself two put-ups. C'mon, for every knock you just gave yourself, say something nice."

Warrior Woman: "No, no, no, I know..."

and then, I waited for it...I knew it was only a matter of time
AND there it was:

Warrior Woman: ".... BUT"

Why do we do that? Why do we sit on judgmental thrones? Those negative thoughts will only hold us down. Please, everyone, stop the negative comments, those self-inflicted insults. Focus on the positives - create a "lunch-box" full of put-ups that work for you, think of a bunch, so you can turn to them when that throne of judgement calls. In turn, you will create positive brain thought patterns, which will help you be the best you can be!

Then, Warrior Woman explained that she is a former golden glove female boxing champion and, oh yeah, then she dropped this on me... she is also a brain cancer survivor!

What? This Warrior Woman? Whom I have admired her from afar - for the last year - when our paths would cross on the track? But she is always spunky, smiley and friendly and she is in great, great shape  - she looks like a mini-superwoman. This, Warrior Woman, is in remission from brain cancer?

Then she proceeded to tell me her story of courage as she faced her cancer.

Warrior Woman: "I told that cancer, it was messing with the wrong person! Even when my muscles atrophied when I had to get brain surgery and go through chemotherapy, I tried to stay positive - especially for my husband and son."

Me: "You are amazing"

Then she explained how she felt that if she weren't in as good shape before her cancer diagnosis, she probably wouldn't have been able to build her body back to where it is today.

Warrior Woman: "I just never gave up. I thought, every time I went for another chemotherapy treatment, 'I'm going to kick some cancer-but today!'"

Damn, girl, you sure did! God bless Warrior Woman! She is amazing! May her story inspire you to keep striving, eat right, exercise and

Train Smart Today!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I am back in the AM saddle - who is with me? 
Coffee..Ready, Set...Go!!!
Today I started my waking up at 5AM Tuesday/Thursday routine to squeeze in two weekly workouts.

Someone please tell me why I was getting change for the meters? No one cares if the meters have $ in them at 5AM!

60*F & Raining! YUK!

Gotta love my wing man for supporting the 5AM routine:
So, this routine is the only way I can get it all done while going to school full time, trying to get a patent off the ground (more on that another time!), raising two teenagers and taking care of my home and yard/garden... and blogging!

There is a new koi fish in my garden.
My daughter received one as a gift for her birthday! 
So, in the wee hours this morning I was at the gym!

I couldn't do my usual leg strengthening routine because tomorrow I have a track workout and Sunday I am running a half marathon in Connecticut (my seventh state, woo-hoo)! That is just too much catabolic activity for my legs and because I absolutely love to run - I am really careful to not overtrain and get injured! In fact, that's why I did calves today. Yesterday, I had a little pain in my left heel - my aching calcaneus - yes I am a biology nerd!

So this morning, I spent some time strengthening the muscles surrounding my ankle along with the dorsal and ventral foot muscles - I wasn't lying, I really am a bio-nerd. I followed up with lots of calf stretches.

Calves on the Cybex!
Tonight, I will massage my feet by rolling a frozen golf ball along the bottom of them.  This exercise helps massage the fascia tissue that runs from the heel to the arch of the foot. You may be familiar with this this strong band of fascia (connective) tissue  - especially if you run - yes, my friends, it is that which is involved in that very painful condition, otherwise known as (look away, look away) Plantar fasciitis! Oh dread! Get that golf ball out of the freezer, STAT!

Overall, my morning routine went smoothly! I even did a weight lifting pyramid with the dip machine to help increase strength while building endurance. I love these - they are so intense!
Train Smart Today!