Superfood Spotlight: KALE

We’ve all been hearing about how kale is so good for you and necessary in your diet and theres a good reason for this! Kale truly is the “queen of the greens” for many reasons.

For me the best part of kale is the wide variety of vitamins that I find are deficient in my diet. It is extremely high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C and calcium. However, the biggest one is iron. As someone with severely low iron who doesn’t love beef, kale is a saviour.

Not only is it rich with vitamins, but kale holds fibre and powerful cancer protecting antioxidants. This makes it the perfect detox food to clean your body of toxins!

Since simply eating raw kale on it’s own probably isn’t your cup of tea, here’s two recipes I use to get all of these wonderful nutrients:

Kale Chips:
Ingredients:

-1 bunch kale
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the kale leaves from the stem with scissors and tear the leaves into chip size pieces. Wash the kale and dry in a salad spinner. Place kale on a cookie sheet. Drizzle the kale with olive oil and sea salt. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until lighty brown and crispy. Enjoy!

Superfood Smoothie:
Ingredients:

-1 cup coconut water
– 1 banana
– 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
-1/2 cup kale
-1 tsp chia seeds
-1 tsp spirulina
-1 tsp fish oil
-1 tsp all natural peanut or almond butter
Directions:
Add all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Add water if needed. Enjoy!

What’s your favourite way to eat kale? 

 

Injury Prevention and Recovery: IT Band Syndrome

As a result of just moving into a new place and having to wait a week and a half for wi-fi (first world problems i know), I’m finally back to blogging!

We’ve all been there- you’re training hard and expecting a big PR in your next race when excruciating pain suddenly plagues you mid-run. Luckily these injuries can usually be prevented or you can make a quick recovery!

If you are a runner and have yet to experience IT band syndrome, you likely will. Whether it is simply some tightness in the band itself or a throbbing knee, taking care of your IT band is important!

Thanks to Google, I can tell you that the Iliotibial Band is a ligament that runs down the outside of the thigh from the hip to the shin. When ITBS occurs, the IT band becomes tight and inflamed from overuse. The biggest symptom is pain on the outside of the knee.

Luckily numerous visits to the physiotherapist and many hours of research have made me a self-proclaimed IT band prevention and treatment expert!

If you’re having severe pain on the outside of your knee that is keeping you from running, go to your physiotherapist. But, if you’ve never had IT band problems or have in the past, it’s time to start some stretching and strengthening to make sure it never keeps you from training! Here’s what to do:

1. Stretch. Stretching out your glutes will be your saviour. Do this stretch everyday for 1 minute (or more!) on each side.
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2. Foam Roll. If you think foam rolling is evil now, wait until you foam roll your IT band! It’s beyond painful, but so worth it! Try to roll each side for a minute everyday.

3. Strengthen your booty. Surprisingly, this is the most important. While there are many glute exercises that will benefit IT band syndrome, the classic “clam shells” work magically! Start with 30 on each side everyday and increase to 40 after a week or two.

How do you stretch and strengthen your IT band?

De-Stress

My second year of University is coming with many more challenges than first year, as I’ll now be balancing classes, homework, working part-time, and working-out. On top of that I won’t have the luxury of my parents cooking and cleaning for me and will have to fit time in for that as well!

We all live these hectic lives and can all agree that it gets pretty stressful. As someone whose body and mind react very poorly to stress, I know how important it is to take control of that. Health is the number one priority in your life and you are always in control!

Here’s some simple ways to de-stress and relax:

1. Meditation and Yoga: Both will calm and slow your body and mind down. Turn off your appliances and breathe!

2. Take a Walk: For me, walks always ease my mind and make me feel rejuvenated. Rather than riding my bike or taking the bus to and from class or the library, I walk! It may take an extra 5-10 minutes out of my day, but it’s so worth it for my health.

3. Be Mindful: There is no point in worrying and getting stressed out about things that you cannot control. Look at the situation in the perspective of what you can do about it and make decisions that work for you.

4. Drink tea: Whether it’s alone or with friends, the act of sipping a delicious (and healthy!) tea slows the body down and brings you to that moment and that moment only!

5. Get Sleep: This one is tough for students, but will make your life so much easier. 8 hours a night, no excuses.

6. Eat well: Polishing off an entire bag of chips while studying is an extremely easy task, but won’t benefit you at all. Take that extra time to make yourself something healthy and you’ll have the fuel to work hard and finish your homework in half the time.

7. Laugh and Love: It sounds super cheesey, but it’s so important! When I feel a mini-mental breakdown coming on, I immediately text or call my parents. It helps that my mom’s a life coach and can talk me through my stressful situation, but we all have close friends and family that bring us back to feeling the happiness we all deserve.

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What’s your favourite way to de-stress?

Become a Runner

I always laugh when non-runners think I’m so crazy for “just an easy 8k today”, because to them that is crazy! For me, that would be a 40-minute run and in our world, that’s an easy run day. Since I’ve been running non-stop since my first cross-country meet in grade 3, I struggle to wrap my head around seeing people in the gym dying after 20 minutes jogging on the treadmill. I realize running isn’t easy and you can’t just go out for the “easy 8k” on your first day on the roads, so this post is dedicated to beginner’s who want to call themselves “runners”!

The biggest mistake with beginners is that they expect to be able to run for an extended period of time on the first day. This will not happen. While it seems tedious and boring, you’re going to have to start out with a run-walk. This simply means running for a period of time, then walking for a period of time and repeating this.

While I’m not a coach or expert, there are many “couch-to-5k” plans that follow this advice. Here’s one that I thought seemed great:
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Don’t try to go too fast or burn yourself out, take it easy and enjoy the experience! Soon you’ll be out there with the elites! If you’re already a runner, send this post along to a non-runner friend and spread the running joy. 🙂

In With The New

In the midst of a depressing foot problem, I realize how important feet are to running (duh) and have set out to learn as much as I can to keep them healthy and strong! This goes beyond finding the best shoe for your foot to knowing when to switch out your old pair for the new.
Remember that I am not an expert and my suggestions are a result of research I’ve done.
As I read various sites, I discovered many different views on the subject, which all seem to make sense to me, so the question is, which one is true?
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In my opinion, the best one is to listen to your body and watch out for signs. A new shoe is fully cushioned and ready to protect your foot. Of course it will break down overtime and eventually you will begin feeling aches and pains as a result of the lack of support. Obviously not all aches and pains are a result of old shoes, so use your judgment.
In order to be sure, it is a good idea to go to a running store and try a new pair of the same shoes and feel the difference.  If the difference is extremely noticeable it’s likely time for a fresh pair.
As far as when you should expect this, I would not go by time (2 months, 4 months etc.) because everyone’s training is different. For example when training for a 5k versus a marathon, clearly your mileage will be different, so you’d have to switch out shoes sooner when training for longer distances. Most sites recommend switching out between 400-600 miles.

Every one is different and this means your mileage, body weight and foot type will be an influence. For example, running on the road will wear shoes faster and a heavy over pronator will wear their shoes out faster than a neutral runner. Changing your running shoes is extremely important as running in worn out shoes increases risk of injury! If you’ve calculated your total mileage in your shoes, checked for physical signs on the shoe and have listened to your body but are still not sure, go to a running store and ask an expert.

How often do you change your running shoes?

Strawberry Overload

It’s strawberry season and I’ve been picking like a madwoman! Since the moment my last exam finished I’ve been looking forward to one of the best parts of summer-strawberry picking! I went at last on Sunday and picked a ridiculous amount.
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Since me and family couldn’t possibly eat all of them, my mom decided to make a delicious, SUPER healthy, grain-free strawberry crisp and I just needed to share the recipe. So, here it is:

Strawberry Crisp:
Ingredients:
-4 cups fresh strawberries (blueberries would probably also work great)
-1/2 t. cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
-1/4 teaspoon baking soda
-1 cup almond flour
-1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
-1 cup cashews (or any nut of choice)
-1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
-1/4 cup raw honey
Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Wash strawberries and place them in baking dish. Sprinkle the cinnamon on top.
3. Mix almond flour, sea salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Mix in the shredded coconut and cashews.
4. Melt coconut oil in a small pan over low heat, and add honey until it’s slightly melted (only enough for it to mix in).
5. Stir your melted mixture with the almond flour mixture, then pour the entire mixture over the strawberries.
6. Bake for roughly 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown.
7. Cut into squares and enjoy!
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I’m well aware that the whipped cream was not so healthy, but it was necessary!
Happy eating!!

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

You may have noticed I haven’t made a blog post in quite awhile and there’s a very good reason for that-I haven’t been running much! As I mentioned in a previous post, I am having an issue with one of my toes as it is curved and forces running impact to hit the tip of the toe, rather than the bottom. It doesn’t sound like a big deal and it never was a problem, until I increased my mileage and suddenly my little useless toe was in so much pain I could barely walk, much less run.

After trying countless toe separators and sleeves, my doctor has finally referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. While I’m relieved to be resolving the problem, I’ve been overwhelmed with disappointment.

Way back when I started training, I had all of the races I wanted to run all lined up with countdowns going for each one, all in preparation for the Scotiabank Toronto Marathon in October. For once I was actually excited about running and was truly enjoying the training experience. I would wake up early in the morning actually smiling knowing I would soon be out the door running. I even skipped some Saturday nights out in order to rest up for my Sunday long run.

I’m sure you fellow runner’s can relate to this running euphoria, but for me it was new. Throughout high school I struggled against girls who were much faster than me and I struggled to run the short distances of track and cross-country. By grade 12, I was completely unmotivated and barely put any effort into training. When I began university I was barely running at all and struggling to find success in my schoolwork and was desperately seeking something outside of school that would make me feel accomplished. I found this in running.

It didn’t take long for me to decide that I needed to run a marathon and before I knew it I was immersed in training and was working harder than ever. As I said before, I had dreamed up what my entire experience would be like and looked forward to every step. This is why it was so hard for me to accept that my foot couldn’t take it.

Once I decided I couldn’t continue training, I learned that I could handle going for a short run one day then biking the next in order to keep my fitness up. But, while it may sound dramatic, I had trouble even enjoying these short runs knowing it was all for nothing and I would lose the fitness level I had worked so hard for four months to achieve.

As I found myself in a running rut, I finally found inspiration while watching the women’s 10k at the USATF Championships. If you watched it or saw the results, your mind probably immediately went to Shalane Flannigan, however, in my circumstances it was Kara Goucher. Kara led with training partner Shalane early in the race but fell back hard and finished fifth. She recently wrote a blog post about how truly disappointed she was with the race and how she thought she was for sure going to place in the top 3. But, as she says in the post, things don’t always go the way you want, but that’s no reason to give up.

She made me realize that you need to set new goals and be grateful for these learning experiences. I now know I was crazy to be that upset by my changed running plans. I’m only 19 years old and have a long running career ahead of me. This will only be a short time off in the long run and I will come back stronger than ever and ready to conquer my first marathon! Sorry to Kara for stealing your post’s title for mine, but it was just so appropriate!

Here’s a link to Kara’s blog post: http://www.runtheedge.com/2013/06/you-cant-always-get-what-you-want/