How I Turned from a Wolf to a Turtle

Beautiful story of friendship, provided by WOOT Okinawa Runner/Turtle, Beri Richardt. Thank you for sharing!

the good things in Life!

the good things in Life!

I can’t tell you the exact time when our merry band of runners was formed.

“Do you like pain?” My messages always start out this way. The answer I get back is, “Of course, what time?”. It is astounding how the answer is always the same. If for some reason the promise of pain isn’t enough, positive peer pressure gets their shoes on. It was a long road for me to get to running with other people.

Truthfully, I have never enjoyed running with people. Running was an activity best shared with my iPod and the woods. As a “lone wolf” runner, I could escape life and go at my own pace. I never wanted to sign up for race events because they involved too many people. After having children, I was more amiable to trying new things. After all, kids were a pretty big “new thing” and I liked them. So, why not? This search was more of a Goldilocks story than a Love at First Sight Story. I tried one running group and I always felt like I didn’t quite fit. I went through all the usual motions of lacing my shoes, packing the necessary gear. I would run with them and then leave because we only had one thing in common, running. It wasn’t enough. There was another that I had been Facebook “stalking”. A group that posted 10 to 15+ mile runs through hilly jungles starting at 5am on Saturday mornings. Now, I love my pjs, coffee, and bacon on Saturday mornings so that group just didn’t fit my lifestyle. Oh yeah, and I couldn’t run 15 or even 10 miles. I guess the Lone Wolf was going to have to go it alone with two kids, water bottles, about 25 pounds of their comfort gear all in a compact double jogging stroller. My iPod was now replaced with different tunes such as, “Mommy, I want a snack” and “crying 10 month-old”. The ironic thing was that we got into a rhythm and came to an understanding of sorts. I got my miles in while pushing an 85lb rock on wheels and they knew that I was a much happier person after a run. Maybe I could run with people (as long as they didn’t cry).

I still continued to stalk the other group. The one who ran all the miles in the jungle. Despite being warned by someone else against showing up because I would get left and lost. I decided to put my faith in the GPS capabilities of my smartphone. It was time to lace-up my shoes and see what the fun was all about. Rain came down in sheets the day before. Then turned into thunderstorms during the night. Lightning was still flashing when I left my house at 4:30am for the meeting point. If the run was to be canceled, then I was going to be left drinking my coffee in the parking lot. But, by golly, I was going to show up. I watched the lightning move away as I drove.

I could take you through the details of that run because I remember them vividly. However, I only want to tell that I had this complete feeling of joy. I was not left behind. I did not get lost. I met two funny, kind women who guided me through the trail for over an hour of running up and down a mountain. If slogging around in mud and nature doesn’t bring out the true form of a person, then spiders and snakes will finish job. This was my Goldilocks moment. I found the one that fit just right. A group of accomplished runners who didn’t care that I could run only 4 miles. Only that I liked to run.

I attended more runs and met another runner. Through Saturday runs and a naming of our relay team, we four became the Turtles. Then Saturday runs weren’t enough, we met again on Sundays and during the week. We started running more with yet another group.

the Team!

For us, slow, became not-as-slow. Four miles somehow graduated into 13+. I suppose we could have become faster more quickly, but these runs were about support. Not one of us was ever left behind. If we saw one person struggling we’d just start talking or joking. It’s easier to teach your body to run distance when it’s being tricked by laughter. Positive peer-pressure was a wicked tool employed when someone had doubts or didn’t want to show up. One member of our little group who proclaimed over and over that she “would die if she ran over 6 miles”, decided to run a 9 mile course then promptly signed up for her first half marathon afterwards. For all of us, these runs built the confidence we needed to progress as runners. We all have half-marathons and marathons upcoming. I know our times will continue to improve because we keep doing the miles. More importantly, we have this amazing friendship that we take on the road and on the trails.

on Top of Old Smoky…

Super Nutritious Black Rice and Vegetable Bowl

Jannine Myers

I was really craving a clean and wholesome meal yesterday so I drove over to the local supermarket to choose a selection of fresh produce. I had already put some Lotus Foods Forbidden Black Rice in the rice cooker, and all I had to do when I got home was prepare the vegetables to my liking. Black rice by the way, has more protein and fiber than white and brown rice, and a much higher amount of antioxidants than any other type of rice.

One of the easiest ways to make a fast and healthy meal is to make a bowl of assorted vegetables or fruits, and add some protein. My meal last night ended up being a black rice and vegetable bowl, with a Sunbutter/lemon dressing:

12182158_10156092039600562_1313050742_n

Here’s how you can make this delicious meal:

Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow sweet potato
  • 1 small head of broccoli
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup uncooked black rice
  • 1/2 cup any type of bean mix
  • 1/2 cup shredded raw daikon
  • handful of fresh salad greens
  • sunflower seeds
  • Dressing:
  • 1/4 cup Sunbutter
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (approximately 2 lemons)
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Clean the sweet potato, carrots and broccoli, then cut into bite-size pieces. Place them in a bowl and coat with olive oil and kosher salt and pepper. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil and pour the vegetables on the tray. Bake for approximately 30 mins.
  3. Meanwhile, clean the rice and cook in a rice cooker according to the packet directions.
  4. In individual salad bowls, place a bed of salad leaves in each bowl. Then evenly distribute all the ingredients (roasted vegetables, shredded daikon, bean mix, black rice, and seeds) around the bowl.
  5. Make your dressing by pouring all of the ingredients into a blender and pulsing into a smooth consistency.
  6. Drizzle your salad with a little dressing and enjoy!

 

WOOT’s First Relay Race – A Huge Success

Jannine Myers

Last weekend I had the good fortune of participating in WOOT’s very first relay race (aptly called “Suck It Up, Princess Adventure Relay), and for the sake of our members who were not able to experience this incredible event, I hope that this post will make you at least feel as if you were there with us.

Our morning began at 5:50am, with racers huddled around at a designated base camp on Mt. Ishikawa, and all carefully taking in last-minute instructions from our race organizer Anna Boom. The event was set up to accommodate nine teams of three runners, and each runner was required to run three short but very challenging trail loops – two of the loops individually, and the third and most technical loop as a team.

Mt. Ishikawa is by no means a huge or intimidating mountain, but many of it’s trail ascents and descents are incredibly steep, and require the use of ropes in order to climb up or down. Furthermore, much of the terrain is rocky and uneven, so careful positioning of one’s feet and ankles was definitely a concern for all, especially since speed was the number one objective for each team.

With everyone set to go, runners were sent out in waves of three; runners from each team left the base camp at exactly 6:15am, 6:20am, or 6:25am, and depending on the chart schedule they each took off towards the loop allocated specifically to their team. As each runner returned to camp, they recorded the clock time on their team chart and then turned in their charts at the end of the race for an official evaluation of overall results.

The entire combined distance of all three loops was actually no more than 6 miles, but due to the technicality and steepness of the trails, as well as the requirement of all team members to run two of the loops individually and at separate times, some of the teams were still out on the course almost five hours later; that didn’t lessen anyone’s spirits however. If anything, the positive vibe that everyone showed up with carried through to the very end.

I think the photos that follow clearly show just how much fun everyone had:

12109027_1052044214814864_7887486016533357293_n

Some of the ladies discussing strategy, others just passing time while their teammates are out running

10155981_1052055281480424_4593095851617478958_n

And off we go on the team loop!

12105713_1052044968148122_3913483453859370074_n        12079648_1052055251480427_6595174336801366270_n

11700846_10206194922485720_1346686377918283915_o

Grace’s smile says it all!

1011675_1052044384814847_5243302174361718259_n

Two members of the winning team! Their team name, “Run Like Kilian” obviously paid off.

12079335_1052056471480305_9182256408640915799_n      11214164_1052055384813747_631440186230201661_n

12112104_10207787708268284_5009576694038736602_n     12118784_10207306488638565_6461974830811703078_n

12140986_10153065016976262_1650295120720381251_o

Group photo of some of the teams – several runners were out on the course unfortunately and missed this photo opportunity

It’s hard to say if I’ll be around for next year’s relay race but if I am, I know it will likely be my favorite race of the year. And for those of you who are here in Okinawa next year, and have the opportunity to participate, I highly recommend that you sign up as soon as registration opens; the team spots will go fast!

Thanks so much to Anna and Jessey, our main event organizers, and to everyone who helped to make this race such a huge success!

11227914_10206194956886580_2924492866686762465_o

Our amazing race organizers – Anna (in yellow) and Jessey (in blue)

 

A Is For Autumn And Apples

Jannine Myers

It’s Autumn now and along with the obvious seasonal changes such as temperature and length of days, we’re also seeing new fruits and vegetables at the local farmers’ markets and grocery stores. Last week I picked up a bag of fresh green apples, and I couldn’t resist using them to make a spiced apple loaf with chunks of raw ginger.

12166856_10156063111625562_610835501_n

When I was growing up, I always remember seeing health charts at school and at the doctor’s clinic with a picture of an apple, followed by the caption “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” If only staying healthy were that simple, but actually, apples do contain many nutrients that make them worth eating on a regular basis.

Here are just a few reasons why apples are good for you:

  • Apples are a low-calorie, high-fiber food; in other words, you can eat apples for a guilt-free sweet snack, and their fiber content will leave you feeling full for much longer.
  • One apple counts for about 1 cup of fruit; the recommended daily fruit intake is around 2 cups for adults on a 2000-calorie diet, so an apple a day meets half the daily fruit requirement.
  • Apples are a great source of immune-boosting Vitamin C.
  • Apples contain quercetin, and interestingly, research suggests that quercetin may help to improve endurance and lead to other fitness gains. The jury is still out but so far the data revealed looks promising. [Read this article for more information]

So even if you don’t feel like chopping up apples for baking purposes, enjoy eating them as they are!

P1070412

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose gluten free flour, plus 1 tsp
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • dash ground cloves and ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup apple juice, unsweetened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 chunk of fresh ginger, finely chopped (about 1 tsp)
  • 2 cups apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a loaf pan with a little butter.
  2. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices to a large bowl and mix to combine.
  3. In another large bowl, add the oil and sugar. Using a mixer, mix on medium speed until well combined. Add the egg, agave syrup, apple juice and vanilla, and mix until combined. Reduce speed to low, and gradually beat in the flour mixture, being careful not to overmix.
  4. In a medium bowl, toss together the chopped ginger, diced apples, chopped nuts and 1 tsp flour until combined. Fold fruit and nut mixture into the batter.
  5. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Place pan on baking sheet, and bake until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 60-65 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes before removing it from pan and letting it cool completely on a wire rack (although, it tastes best when it’s still warm from the oven).

Book Recommendation: We Run Up!

Jannine Myers

I’ve noticed lately that when I head out to run, I often start to visualize the hills on my route; I see them in my mind before I literally see them. I count them all out, and assess the degree of difficulty of each one. Then, as each hill comes into sight, I start a little mental dialog in hopes of producing a strong and steady surge upwards. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

A book I read recently made me realize however, that my mental approach to tackling the hills is all wrong. For one, I spend way too much time thinking about and anticipating the hills ahead of me; that not only cheats me of a relaxing and enjoyable run but it also makes me vulnerable. Second, I need to embrace the hills and look forward to seeing them; the idea of them may at times be intimidating or unappealing, but I should focus instead on the physical (and non-tangible) rewards that they offer.

We Run Up, written by father and daughter Dennis Reeder and Andrea Sayers, is a fantastic compilation of lessons learned from their weekly hill runs together. I highly recommend this book if you think your thought process – while running – could use a little positive redirection, or if you’d simply enjoy a fresh perspective on the value of hill running, and running in general. Without giving too much away, here are a few excerpts and quotes (my thoughts in blue):

  • “Focus on this moment, this round, and let the other hills take their turn, when it is their turn.” – I love this because I tend to saturate my thoughts with all the hills ahead of me, which is far more overwhelming than focusing on just one hill – or one section of a hill – at a time.
  • The life lesson: “…when you feel crushed under the weight of numerous problems, remember that all these things viewed as a whole can feel very daunting, but when separated out and focused on individually, they will be more manageable and less overwhelming. Problems filled your plate one at a time and can be most effectively removed in the same manner.”

 

  • “Belief is the catalyst that gets us started and the motor that keeps us moving.” – this is a prime example of how my thought patterns can influence either a successful hill run or one that fails. Allowing even a little doubt to enter my mind can significantly impact my performance. If hills are not new to me, and if I know I am capable of running them, then the only belief I should confidently uphold is that my legs and lungs are strong and hills don’t scare me.
  • The life lesson: “Only my belief can produce the drive and persevering power I need to achieve my dreams…..if we do not believe our dream can come true, then we will not waste our time acting on it. It is when we start acting on our dream or dreams that our belief is demonstrated and things start moving.”

 

  • “What we overcome is often more important than what we accomplish. It is in the patient struggle of the seed pushing through the soil that makes breaking through a triumph.” – this makes me think of hill repeats, and how I focus solely on the countdown. All I can think about is that final repeat, and being done with the workout; I want it over with, NOW! Maybe I need learn to what it is to be patient and persevering, and to enjoy the discomfort of each aspect of the workout, since the true reward comes not from completing the workout, but from pushing through, repeat after repeat.
  • The life lesson: “Do not let accomplishment become a ‘Holy Grail.'” – joy can be felt throughout life, not just at the moments when accomplishments are achieved. It’s up to us whether we choose to revel in the process, or miss the joy because we’re too focused on getting to the end.

 

  • “If we always do what we have always done; we will always get what we have always gotten.” – we can’t expect the hills to produce results for us if we run the same hills, with the same strength and speed, week after week after week. 
  • The life lesson: “Like a boat drifting with the current, it is easy to go through life on autopilot, reactively moving through our hills and valleys without realizing that we are drifting off course from our goals. We may find ourselves falling into old conditioned patterns because that is what feels comfortable. Success in life (as in running), comes with focused effort. Where your focus goes, your energy flows – where your energy flows determines your direction. Your direction determines your destination. Your destination determines your quality of life.”

we run up

Great stories and life lessons, as well as beautiful photography throughout! Get your copy now from Amazon.com

Try Eating Purple Foods For A Greater Antioxidant Effect

Jannine Myers

Purple fruits and vegetables are known for their high antioxidant content, and the reason we should all want to eat foods with lots of antioxidants is because they help to combat the aging process and keep us looking younger and healthier!

Additionally, the purple pigment in foods such as eggplant, purple cabbages, blackberries, and blueberries, all contain certain flavanoids that offer protection from certain diseases, including some cancers. With so many different kinds of purple fruits and vegetables to choose from, there’s no reason why you can’t get more of them into your daily diet.

Here’s a recipe to get you started; it’s a baked purple sweet potato and blueberry mash:

P1070398

P1070401

Ingredients

  • 2 purple sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1/8 cup coconut oil, 1/8 cup organic unsweetened soy milk
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter, unsalted
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/4 cup walnuts and some shredded coconut for garnish
  • Plain organic yogurt

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400F. Boil sweet potatoes for about 15 minutes, then drain.
  2. In a blender or food processor, pulse all the ingredients, including the cooked sweet potatoes (but excluding the blueberries). When the mixture is well combined, add the frozen blueberries and stir.
  3. Divide between 5 ramekins. Sprinkle with shredded coconut and walnuts. Bake for about 10 to 15 mins.
  4. Serve with yogurt and a dash of cinnamon.

 

“Everything In Moderation” Questioned By Award-Winning Fitness Expert

Jannine Myers

all-in-moderation

I read a very interesting nutrition article a few days ago, written by ACE Senior Consultant for Personal Training, Jonathan Ross. It’s title intrigued me, because it implied that a dietary approach based on “everything in moderation” simply doesn’t work. I had to keep reading of course, because for years now that’s exactly the kind of dietary approach I have lived by (and advocated), and for the most part I feel that it does work.

So what exactly does Ross have to say about the “everything in moderation” approach? Let me break it down into three parts:

1. His first point is that moderation, as understood and practiced by the majority, is not moderation at all but a lifestyle. He argues that if a person successfully resists the temptation to eat 90% of all the unhealthy foods that he or she is daily exposed to, yet still chooses to indulge in 10% of those foods, then that is essentially a habit, and habits form lifestyles. For example, a female athlete eats healthy and wholesome foods all day, but allows herself a tall size Starbucks Frappucino each afternoon. Ross claims that such daily rewards, even though small, can’t really fit into the realm of moderate consumption, because if it’s daily it’s therefore a habit and therefore a way of life.

2. Ross brings up the topic of “super” foods. In recent nutrition news, we’ve been hearing a lot about “super” foods that supposedly have extraordinary health benefits. Ross claims that there is nothing extraordinary about these foods; that they are really just normal foods that have been around for centuries and which nourish the body as normal, wholesome foods should. On the other hand, it’s the unhealthy foods – those foods that we love to eat, but strive to eat in moderation – that should be identified as having “super” adverse effects.

Ross believes that if you eat healthfully (as in, you eat normal, healthy and natural foods) most of the day, but also have an unhealthy treat each day, you’re actually creating an imbalance. He explains that the effects of ingesting small, but regular amounts of chemically-laden, or high sugar/high-fat foods, can have a “super” detrimental effect that can’t be compensated for by simply reverting back to wholesome and nutritious meals. It can take “weeks or months,” he says, to clear internal inflammation caused by dietary imbalances.

3. His final point is that too many people see their food choices as being either “good” or “bad.” The problem with this, says Ross, is that it sets people up to say “yes” more often, to the not-so-healthy foods. When eating mostly healthy foods over the course of a day is viewed as “good” (or successful), it then becomes easy to tell yourself that tomorrow, you deserve a cheat day. This is a typical pattern with most people, and one of the reasons why Ross believes so many struggle to have a healthy relationship with food. He suggests that eating healthy foods is neither good nor bad; it’s simply “getting more healthful.”

Ross’ takeaway is that the general perception of eating everything in moderation is skewed. He believes that most people who “feel” like they eat everything in moderation, really don’t, and consequently we have a society of people who are moderately unhealthy instead of thriving.

My takeaway is this:

1. I like to eat a small sugary dessert every night, something like custard mochi, or chocolate, or home-baked cookies, to name a few. And every other night (or occasionally on consecutive nights), I like to drink a glass of wine with my meal. I also like to carry my favourite New Zealand lollies (candy) in my handbag and reach for one or two when I have a sudden sugar craving. Until I read this article however, I had never thought of my small daily indulgences as a lifestyle habit that doesn’t conform to the dictionary definition of moderation.

2. Ross’ suggestion that healthy foods are not “super” foods, while unhealthy foods on the other hand, have “super” harmful effects, is a notion I had also never considered – yet it does make sense. I’m just not sure how accurate Ross’ claims are about small amounts of unhealthy foods having such a significant impact on health.

3. Ross says that the concept of “everything in moderation” oversimplifies an idea that isn’t that simple at all. Yet he also infers that we can improve our relationship with food by not acknowledging our food choices as either “good” or “bad,” but by telling ourselves that choosing a healthy food is “getting more healthful.” But isn’t that also oversimplifying? The alternative is that eating an unhealthy food means that we are getting less healthful. Anyway you slice it – good or bad, or more healthful versus less healthful – the end result will surely be the same.

In summary, when I look at my overall dietary intake, it consists mostly of healthy and nourishing foods, with a few unhealthy choices making up a much smaller percentage. By Ross’ standards, my daily indulgences are enough to label me as a “moderately unhealthy person.” I’m okay with that though, because if I’m moderately unhealthy, that means that I am also moderately healthy. Additionally, if being a “thriving” person means that I must practice moderation in it’s strictest form, I’d have to be willing to live a life so disciplined that achieving “thriving” status would surely come about at the cost of happiness. And if that’s what it takes, then being “moderately unhealthy,” and “moderately thriving,” is what works – for me.