Coconut Cashew and Cranberry Bites

Jannine Myers

I typically exercise in the early mornings, just as the sun is rising, and around 8am I sit down to eat breakfast. Since the start of the summer break however, my daughter’s morning swim team practices have caused me to adjust my routine a little. On “swim days,” I don’t have time to exercise until later in the morning – between 8am and 9:15am – when my daughter is in the pool. I’m pretty hungry by that time, so to stave off hunger I have been eating these delicious and naturally sweet “Coconut Cashew and Cranberry Bites.”

Give these a try; they’re easy to make and just the right size to satisfy your hunger as well as provide a little energy before your run or workout.

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Ingredients

1 cup raw and unsalted cashews

1 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup dates

2 tbsps cocoa or cacao powder

1 tbsp finely shredded and unsweetened coconut (plus extra for coating)

1 tbsp coconut oil

 

Directions

Soak the cranberries in hot water for 5 minutes. Pulse the cashews in a food processor until a nice crumbed consistency is achieved. Drain the cranberries and add to the processor, along with the dates, cocoa powder, and tbsp of coconut. Process until fully combined. Add the coconut oil and pulse a few times, then transfer the doughy mixture to a small mixing bowl. Take pieces of the dough and roll into small balls, and coat in the extra coconut. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Lazy Sunday Afternoon Detox

Jannine Myers

I don’t know about you, but every once in a while I find myself craving a big bowl of liver- cleansing vegetables! Okay, so maybe a few of you are still reading……..but if you can relate you’ll probably appreciate this post.

The months of May and June in Okinawa kind of feel like the busy Thanksgiving/Christmas season; there are always lots of end-of-school-year events, as well as PCS farewell events, all of which seem to involve copious amounts of eating! Now as we’re heading into July, I am starting to feel the negative effects of endless lunch and dinner dates. Since I was home yesterday with no plans, and feeling kind of lazy, I decided to give my body a little bit of TLC by making a huge pot of healthy and nourishing vegetable soup.

When I make a vegetable soup for cleansing purposes, I don’t really follow a specific recipe; I typically just choose a selection of in-season vegetables and try to add ingredients that cleanse and support the liver. Some of the best ingredients you can add to a “detox” soup include the following:

  • Broccoli – contains valuable phytochemicals, that once released into the body, help to flush out carcinogens and other toxins.
  • Leafy green vegetables  – are high in plant chlorophylls and help to eliminate environmental toxins from the blood stream.
  • Turmeric – is a great detox spice because it assists enzymes that specifically work to flush out dietary carcinogens.
  • Ginger – is beneficial in so many ways; it nourishes the liver, promotes circulation, helps to unclog blocked arteries, and even helps to lower blood cholesterol by as much as 30 percent.
  • Garlic – activates liver enzymes that help flush out toxins.
  • Carrots – are high in plant flavonoids and beta-carotene, both of which help to stimulate and improve liver function.

There are so many other vegetables, herbs, and spices that help to cleanse and support the liver, and vegetable soups are perfect for detoxing because you can include a wide variety of “detox” ingredients in one meal.

Take a break from eating out and spend an afternoon at home making a delicious cleansing soup – your body will thank you for it.

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Second Place Is Nothing More Than First Loser

Jannine Myers

I remember when I first heard the saying “Second place is first loser.” I didn’t like it. I felt that it smacked of ignorance and a poor loser attitude. But a couple of weekends ago, at the annual Futenma Magic 10 Miler, I took second place and got a sense of what it feels like to be the “first loser.”

In a nutshell here’s basically what happened: I held the lead (among the females) until literally the last turn before the finish line. Unfortunately I was blindsided and caught completely off guard by another female who sprinted right past me, all the way to the finish line; I didn’t stand a chance of catching her. Losing a race in that way is so disappointing, and it certainly diminishes the joy of a second place victory.

Incidentally, I once read an article about a study that rated the “happiness level” of Olympic silver and bronze medalists. The results suggested that bronze medalists are much happier with their win because a silver medalist tends to compare him/herself with the winner, while a bronze medalist is more likely to compare him/herself with everyone else who did not win a medal. However, getting back to the point of this blog post…..

As disappointed as I was, I was also impressed with the Japanese triathlete who beat me; not only did she ride to and from the race – a long distance I’m sure – but she also gutted it out over the last few hundred meters by lengthening her stride and picking up her pace with significant power and speed. That’s how I wish I had been able to finish, but I had neither the strength or energy to do so. I dismally lagged behind and ate her dust as she crossed the finish line ahead of me.

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First Place Female, and me – First Place Loser

My goal now is to train in such a way that I am not only able to maintain a strong pace throughout the race, but so that I am also able to find that extra kick at the end if I need to. The following is a list of training tips, for both competitive and non-competitive runners, that offer advice on how to finish strong:

1. Coach Christine Luff says, “Although most of us runners aren’t going to lose out on money or medals if we get beat in the final stretch of a race, it’s still very satisfying and thrilling to have a strong finish.” She recommends doing the following to improve your finishing kick:

  • Practice doing some, not all, of your runs in a negative split (finish the second half of your run faster than the first)
  • Do a few miles of your long runs at race pace
  • Incorporate hill repeats into your training cycle, as they make you stronger as well as improve your running efficiency and increase your lactate threshold
  • Add strength exercises such as squats, lunges, and plyometric drills to build strength and explosive power
  • Don’t start your races too fast; this is probably one of the most common mistakes made by runners.

2. In a RunnersWorld.com article, author Caitlin Chock quotes Nike employee coach, Sean Coster, who says that “An athlete’s finishing power ultimately decides between a win or a loss.” Developing a speed reserve that can be tapped into during the final finishing stretch requires a certain type of training, and according to Chock’s article, specifically a two-pronged approach: 1. training the body to recruit as many fibers as possible, and 2. learning to utilize that recruitment when the muscles are fatigued. Some of the workouts suggested include:

  • One day a week of either all-out 20m-100m sprints, or short, steep hill repeats, or plyometric drills. Power-based workouts such as these need to be done in a “refreshed” state, with full recoveries between.
  • Steve Magness has his runners do three sets of 4 × 400m at 3K pace with 3 × 80m hill sprints between sets.
  • Magness also suggests that advanced runners combine strength and plyometrics by running 100m strides for example, and alternating with sets of squats and lunges. The idea, he explains, is to force muscle recruitment, and then learn to use it while running.
  • Read the full article here to see more tips on developing a strong finishing kick

3. In another RunnersWorld.com article, author Lindsey Emery shared these fast-finish workouts:

  • Out-and-back
    The details: Head out to a designated point, turn around, and run the return slightly faster. Start with about 20 minutes (10 minutes out, less than 10 minutes back), and gradually work up to 60 minutes, depending on your goal distance.
  • 400s
    The details: Do 4 to 8 x 400 meters with a 100-meter recovery jog between each. Run the first 2 to 4 repeats at a comfortable pace (10 to 30 seconds per mile slower than goal pace). Speed up successive repeats so the final 1 to 2 laps are 10 to 15 seconds per mile faster than race pace.
  • 2000s
    The details: Do 2 to 4 2000-meter intervals (5 times around a track) at race pace with a 400-meter recovery jog between each. End with 1000 meters (2.5 times around) at slightly faster than goal pace.
  • Progressive long run
    The details: Run the first quarter of your total distance easy (goal pace plus 45 to 60 seconds). For each successive quarter, run your goal pace plus 30 seconds, plus 20 seconds, plus 10 seconds. If possible, run the last mile or so at goal pace.

Try incorporating one or more of these workout strategies into your training routine and see if it makes a difference in your next race. As for me, I’ll be focusing on the 400s with successively faster repeats, and if I ever take home a second place award again, it will hopefully be because I sprinted past another runner!

Welcome to WOOT on Okinawa

Anna Boom

Just finished Amy Poehler’s memoir, Yes Please and enjoyed it very much. She is super funny and supports women in our WOOT fashion. One of her quotes, “Good for her! Not for me.” got me thinking this morning on my run. Amy also uses lists like another Amy author I love, Amy D Hester. So here is my numbered list:

The 11 things to become an Okinawan WOOTr:

  1. Run happy. (Jeesh, I hope Brooks didn’t trademark that slogan). It’s true as PollyAnna as it sounds, let happiness show on your face, flow through your body and if it hurts, fake it til you make it.
  2. Embrace the moment. The secret to accomplish #1, is pull yourself out of the negative thoughts your mind is running through (this hurts, this is too hard, I can’t do this, I’m not a runner, I am too…, etc.) and look around. Look at your body and what it is doing for you: your feet taking another step, your arms helping propel you forward, the green trees growing around you, the smells of outside. Be thankful you can do what you are doing at that moment.
  3. Unchain yourself from mile/kilometer per pace bond. It has no value when you are running trails here due to the different factors: scorching sun, intense humidity, 30% inclines, 5 inches of mud. You get the picture. On our 50 mile run to Okuma, we were ecstatic with a pace of 10:20+ per mile. Would that have qualified me for Boston? Nope, but we were moving forward, relentlessly moving in the right direction.
  4. Support our tribe. WOOT’s founding quote is by C.S. Lewis,“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’”. Doing the thing: the setting of the alarm, the rolling out of bed when it’s still dark, the putting on the sports bra and lacing up the shoes, driving to a place to run together. Doing of the thing binds us together and makes you part of the tribe of weirdos who go to bed early so they can wake up early. Our tribe needs you, so Welcome, Friends!!
  5. Stop comparing yourself to other WOOTrs. If you spend your time worrying about if you’re fast enough, good enough, fill-in-the-blank enough, you stop yourself from enjoying the moment. Believe me, I have to work hard and try different tricks to keep myself from wanting to run as great as other WOOTrs.
  6. Try a new Adventure. Yes, capital “A”dventure. Running trails on Okinawa is like nothing you have done or seen before. “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings
  7. Be aware, there is danger. Okinawa has poisonous wildlife, in case you hadn’t heard. Be aware they are there and have a safety plan and,
  8. Don’t go it alone. Getting lost, tripping and falling into the jungle, twisting an ankle, encountering #7, you do not want to be out there alone. Women work well as a group. We bond, we laugh, we encourage each other. That is another of WOOT’s core tenets.
  9. Learn to use your GPS and learn the trails. Don’t fear technology. GPS can help you get back to where you started so take that cool gadget and spend a few hours learning how to use it. That way, when you need it, you won’t be lost. And learn the trails. Watch the turns you take, notice the big and little things around you. This falls in line with supporting our tribe. Helping to lead a group run is a great way to help WOOT out.
  10. Forget about the shoes. It’s not the shoes. It’s you. Running. Every week we get the question of what trail shoes we recommend. Come out and run with whatever shoes you have.
  11. The best way to be a good runner is to run. Be consistent. Run when you don’t want to (barring injury), run when it’s hot, run when it’s raining, run when it’s windy, run when it just really sucks. Unless you hate running and in that case, this group may not be your flavor. And that is ok too :) Remember, “Good for her! Not for me.”

See you out on Trails soon!!

Restrictive Diets and Social Media Creating a New Kind Of Disordered Eating

Jannine Myers

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I know I share a lot about food and diet, but that’s because I appreciate how food can either aid or harm the body, and as an athlete who cares about health, performance and the ability to remain active throughout my lifetime, I think it’s important to know what’s going on in current nutrition circles. So, when I heard a brief interview recently on TVNZ One News, with Media Nutritionist Claire Turnbull, a few of her comments caught my attention.

In recent years, major health organizations have been insisting that obesity has become an epidemic in America, and that the problem must be addressed and solved. On the other hand, nutritionists such as Turnbull, are now saying that not only is obesity a concern, but so is a new kind of disordered eating based on an extremist approach to diet.

Like it or not, among those who Turnbull labeled as “extremists,” were those in the Paleo, Vegan, and All-Raw camps. My initial reaction was a little defensive (even though I don’t personally follow any particular diet), but she went on to explain that anyone who places extreme restrictions on their food choices – and here’s the catch – to the point where they a) become anxious about food, b) have distorted perceptions of body image, and c) constantly try to adhere to a “perfect” lifestyle, is setting the bar way too high for themselves and everyone else observing them. What they’re trying to achieve, she says, is simply not realistic nor necessary to be healthy and happy.

Turnbull added that social media is largely to blame for the rising number of food and diet extremists. What we see posted in print and online, by health aficionados, is typically a “photo-shopped” version of someone’s life. I can attest to that actually; I only ever post food pictures of all the “healthy” things I eat. I can see how that might cause people to think that I never indulge in the other foods that I also enjoy – foods such as ice cream, and chocolate, and custard mochi (my favorite by the way). In fact, I can even take that a step further and truthfully say that I have run into friends or acquaintances at the commissary for example, and before I even had a chance to say hello, they quickly gave an explanation or apology for the food that was in their cart!

Furthermore, Turnbull said that those who tend to follow extreme and rigid eating plans seem to have a common personality type; they tend to be people who like to be in control. Everyone, to some degree or another, is wired to want to be accepted, and for some personality types, being able to control what they eat and how they look is one way of feeling like they can achieve acceptance. This type of thinking is what Turnbull believes is creating an increase in unbalanced approaches to health and happiness, and ultimately, mental or emotional issues.

Admittedly, I do seem to fit the stereotype described by Turnbull (health aficionado, food blogger, control freak), but I’m actually not that person. I agree wholeheartedly with Turnbull’s statement that food anxiety, coupled with rigid dietary practices and the pursuit of perfection, is not the answer to health and happiness. On the contrary, I believe that health and happiness is best achieved without “absolute” restrictions in place. My “healthy food” blog posts are published not with the intent of encouraging a perfect diet, but with the intent of promoting a healthier way of life. And by a “healthier way of life,” I am simply advocating a move from mostly processed junk food, to mostly fresh and chemical-free food. 

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