A New P.O.V.: Bliss and Gratitude

For a week and a half, I have been experimenting with eliminating sugar, starch, dairy, soy, all non-fibrous grains, beans…  Pretty much everything except for protein and vegetables in order to sort out some digestive conundrums.  And truthfully, this has made running more difficult – the source of nutrition my body once found to convert quickly to energy is not available, and I have only run twice in the last week!  I have however, chosen to create an intentional practice of yoga while my body is learning how to move again with a different energy source.

And somewhat astonishingly, throughout this giant change of diet, I have not been lacking – I definitely do not miss sugar (although occasionally I crave a dessert or some fruit at breakfast).  I have been preparing and cooking Every Single Meal for myself.  This is a big change for me (I like to go out and socialize with friends at places where they make food for you), and I am finding such great pleasure in spending this time – doing something good for Me.  I do believe this two and a half week change is going to make a lasting impression on the way I eat for the rest of my life.  This will be a change to better my health, and a shift to buying products with a higher consciousness of the food I choose to support and the effect my purchases have on people, animals, and the planet.

The parking lot – late evening empty parking lot at work. (a.k.a. Everyone else already went home).

Over the last few hot, beautiful sunny days I have found myself in a very different state of mind.  I feel mildly euphoric and incredibly grateful for the life I am living at this moment – regardless of whether or not I worked exceptionally late that day.  I find myself running into genuinely happy people of all walks of life, and enjoying my life in the city more each day (this includes the grey, bearded, homeless men smoking on the sidewalk early in the morning who politely apologized for their colorful conversation as I ran by.  They were lovely gentlemen).

This shift is awesome.

I am lighter, happier, more productive with my days, and sleeping incredibly well at night – and waking before my alarm every single day.

Isn’t it amazing how a small change of habit can dramatically change your perspective and the entirety of your surroundings?

What are you doing each day to feel good in your own skin?
How has this changed how your day-to-day activities?

~ with love, light, and delight ~
Alaina

Nourishment: The Food We Make vs. The Food We Eat

Today, I made a point to eat only food purchased at a grocery store for my meals.  Living downtown, and working in a location with a convenient café, it is easy to form habits around buying lunch (and maybe even breakfast… and coffee…) after stepping out the door.  Coffee shops abound, lining the streets, restaurants are everywhere, and food can be purchased at all hours of the day – prepared by someone else.  Not only does this drain the pocketbook more quickly, but there is no guarantee that the “healthy” meal you are eating is, in fact, nutritious and delicious.

Truthfully, Portland is quickly becoming a hub of all kinds of healthy-style, organic, gluten-free, free-range, locally grown, sustainable restaurant food markets in the Northwest.  (You’ve all seen Portlandia, right?  I admit to only watching the first episode, and promptly stopped because… Well, it’s not fiction, folks.  That’s everyday life here, and it is as cliché as it looks.  And I love my city!).  Even though you know the hen’s history and where it came from, you may not know all the details of preparation, seasoning, and cooking methods.  Variables that make a big difference to the GF, diabetic, high-cholesterol, high blood-pressure, and others of the population with dietary-restricting conditions.

The only problem with cooking your own meals is that it takes timeWorking a full-time job, cooking, training for a marathon, doing the laundry, posting a blog, and maintaining a social life suddenly feels like way too much to do.  I frequently cook quick, very simple meals.  Or chop things up, throw them in a glass casserole, and put it in the oven to bake so I can continue to putter around while my dinner cooks itself.

A girl can find herself daydreaming about having a personal chef on days where she worked late, needed to do laundry, sort through the mail, and sew a couple of pillow cases… AND get up early to run the next day!

I sometimes wonder what it is like for celebrities.  I’m sure many of them have personal chefs.  And trainers.  And housekeepers, for that matter!  What do they do with all that extra time?  Read books?  I miss reading books… 

Do they work together to create a weekly meal plan?  Do they eat the same thing for breakfast every day?  Do they not get a say in any of the food they consume?  Do they secretly hate sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts?

Do they miss cooking?

love baking.  I get less excited about cooking, but I just adore baking.  I started out with cookies and desserts, but quickly learned that MANY things can be baked – sweet potatoes, squash, chicken, casserole, frittata, vegetables… Kale chips!!!   There is something about preparing the food: washing, chopping, seasoning, and placing it in the baking dish in the oven, waiting for the miracle of heat to turn the pieces of food into a warm, aromatic dish.

Baking has somehow become my stress-relief.  I don’t have to think about anything other than what I am doing with my hands, find myself singing, and just having a good ‘old time preparing delicious and nutritious food stuffs for myself.  As much as I think that it would be great to have a personal chef to give me back some of my time during the day, I don’t think I can give my pleasure of cooking my meals to someone else.

Now… If I could get a cooking coach, that I would consider!  Consultation and coaching when diving into brand new recipes, or to give you prompts when you run out of ideas…  That would be very helpful.

Do you find yourself enjoying cooking your meals?  What kind of satisfaction does it bring you?
Have you ever had a personal chef or considered hiring one?
I’d love to hear from you!

With joy in running, cooking, and nourishment…!
~Alaina

New Year, New Race, New Plan!

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Bib and shirt all ready to go!
Bib and shirt all ready to go!

This New Year’s Eve was a blast.  I made the decision to run in The First Run 2013 in Portland, a prime choice of New Year events for starting what I predict to be my biggest year of running.  The event offers a 1.5 mile and 5K races, and the race began at midnight – in the first minutes of the New Year, 1108 people went out along the waterfront, to run into the year 2013.

After the race, I called my Mom to wish her happy new year, answered a few texts, and then returned to the outdoor undercover area to wait for the official chip times.  The line for the bag check was so long that I chose to forgo the retrieval of my jacket and found a heater to huddle under with some of my fellow runners.

Standing around outside, in the 30 degree weather waiting for scores to be posted and medals awarded.  Brrrr!!!
Standing around outside, in the 30 degree weather waiting for scores to be posted and medals awarded. Brrr!!!

After what seemed like an hour, scores were posted!  Unfortunately, I was too tired to be able to find my name in the long list under the pressure of the crowd, so after about 10 minutes of scanning names, I resigned to go home and look it up at a later time…  I was 10/93 in my age group with a 5K at 26:57!  My goal was an 8.5 min/mile pace, and it’s nice to know I came close, and also that I have some more training to do.

In this New Year, I do not plan to make resolutions.  Historically, it seems that anyone I know who commits to what we call a “resolution” traditionally ends up abandoning the idea they were so enthusiastic about before the first of the year came around the bend, and I want for myself a more positive perspective on the future year.  Today, I commit to the vocabulary of making goals, and planning steps to achieve them throughout this year, 2013.  And in the spirit of maintaining accountability, I want to share my top four goals:

Goal 1: This is the biggie: I will run a marathon.  I have yet to choose my first 26.2 mile run location, so I can tell you it will be at least six months from now to allow for proper training. (Details to come on training plan, and the chosen location in the next couple of weeks).

Goal 2: I will finish the painting started two years ago this month, and schedule time each week to indulge my creative side in painting, sewing, and other crafts that involve working with my hands.

Goal 3: I will be true to myself and listen to my intuition.  I have finally learned that still feeling and that small nudge really do have their merit, and I will give credit where due to help myself lead a happier life.

Goal 4: I will cook more and eat out less.  This goal is not really any effort to save money (although, that may be a very welcome side-effect), but like working with crafts, cooking and baking are a hands-on activity.  Even though they occasionally eat up my entire evening, I find great joy and satisfaction in the undertaking of meal-making.  Therefore, I also commit to grocery shopping every weekend to maintain a stock of supplies.

That is just a little bit of what I am going to do to make my 2013 Great!  Few, simple, and very important-to-me-goals.  Do you have plans for New Year?

Wishing you all the best in this bright, shiny New Year, and as always, happy running!

~Alaina

Post-5K endorphin bliss! Welcome, 2013!!!
Post race endorphin bliss! Hello, 2013!!!