Meal Plan Monday 9.11.17

I don’t know about you, but stalking Refinery 29’s Money Diaries has made me realize how much money I spend on eating out, buying coffee, and picking up random snacks during the day.  While most of my choices are nutritious, it’s not healthy for my wallet.

I’ve found that the easiest way to cut back on money spent on food and drink is meal planning.  Since we moved in June, Mike and I have done a great job of pulling together a loose weekly meal plan to keep our grocery list focused.  Having a plan and the food needed encourages us to pack our breakfasts (I catch the bus around 7AM so I don’t eat before I leave), lunches, and pre-workout snacks.

For breakfasts, I keep a variety of frozen things that I can quickly pop in Tupperware and throw in my lunch bag, like frozen multi-grain waffles or English Muffins.  Paired with the peanut butter I always have in my desk and a piece of fruit, it’s a super easy way to avoid the many breakfast carts scattered around campus.

Lunches lately have been sandwiches on low-carb wraps, but I made a big pot of chili yesterday for football so we portioned the rest out into single-servings for the remainder of the week.  Crock pots for the win!  I will throw in some veggies and hummus as well as some tortilla chips to keep myself satisfied.

Snacks for this week are Trader Joe’s Omega Trek Mix, which I keep in my desk 24/7.  It’s not my favorite trail mix (there’s no chocolate in it), but it keeps me from mindlessly snacking when I should just have a glass of water instead.

Dinners are a little different this week since we have zero meat in the freezer…the world was my oyster when it came to a menu!

Here’s what we decided on…

Monday: Going out to dinner…it’s my running group’s 1-year anniversary party at the local brewery!
Tuesday: Chicken Primavera & a side of pasta
Thursday: Leftover Chicken Primavera & pasta
Friday: Turkey burgers, vegetables, and potatoes on the grill (Great pre-race meal as I’m running a 10K on Saturday morning!)
Saturday: Going out to dinner
Sunday: “Make Your Own Pizza” and salads (Trader Joe’s has the BEST pre-made crust)
I try to stay on track during the week, but life happens and you might not feel like making your Chicken Primavera if you don’t get home from work until later in the evening.  In situations like that, Mike and I have some frozen pizzas in the fridge that we can quickly pop in the oven.  No, it’s not the most nutritious option, but it is important to cut yourself some slack.  Not every meal is going to be well-balanced and homemade!

Let’s get ready to rummmmble!!!

Guys.  It’s football season. That means we don’t have any more football-less weekends until FEBRUARY!

Image result for last sunday without football

With the glory of the game comes everyone’s second (some people’s first) favorite thing about the season: food.  All the glorious fall food…crock pots for everyone!

Eating your way through Sunday doesn’t necessarily have to wreck the hard work you put in Monday through Saturday.  Moderation is key, but so is finding healthier versions of your favorite recipes.  Some are so good that even your fried food loving friends will devour them!


Texas Caviar – Basically salsa, but with beans (I also add corn) that will add some protein and staying power!  I make this for every get-together and at least one person asks me for the recipe as they walk out the door and they’re shocked when they realize how easy it is!  Best served with pita chips or tortilla chips.

Lightened Up Buffalo Chicken Dip – A football staple that is a little more health conscious but still tastes delicious! Great with celery or tortilla chips.

Main Course

I try to keep my main dishes in the crock pot for a few reasons, namely you don’t have to spend your time cooking instead of watching the action.

I love this turkey chili recipe from Ambitious Kitchen.  Full of protein, low in fat and super delicious.  I like to put out bowls of sour cream, shredded cheddar, and green onions for toppings so people can customize it to their liking.  If you think you can control yourself and not eat the entire pan of cornbread (spoiler alert: I can’t), it’s a great addition to it as well!

Another great crock pot option is pulled beef from Skinnytaste.  Another one of my party staples!  Get some good rolls and thinly sliced provolone and let everyone have at it.


Not every football party requires dessert, but if you know people are going to have a post-game sweet tooth, these “ice cream” sandwiches from Skinnytaste are a great option.  I love to keep the desserts limited to cookies or cupcakes so people can grab and go as opposed to waiting for the cake to be cut.

While these recipes will keep you from breaking the calorie bank all in one day, intuitive eating (Fannetastic Food goes more into it here) is still your best option…eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, and enjoy the game!

Well, would you look at that!

I’m going to try to make “Well, would you look at that!” aka WWYLAT a weekly post where I round up information that I find helpful or funny (probs mostly funny…in this world, we have to laugh to keep from crying).  There is a lot of internet to explore out there….we can’t do it alone!

  • WTF is Tumeric? As someone who has some in her spice cabinet but doesn’t know where it came from, this is a big question for me.  I see people drinking these yellow drinks everywhere that aren’t mimosas and I’m super confused about it.  Luckily, LC is here to help.  She might be the girl who didn’t go to Paris, but she def did her research.
  • Hungry Runner Girl has pulled together some of her favorite treadmill workouts for her readers.  While I know that for a lot of the country this is prime outdoor running weather, not everyone is able to hit the pavement.  I’m especially excited to try the Treadmill/Strength workout…it’ll break up the human hamster wheel feeling!
  • Everyone should watch this.  I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard in my life. Maureen has the right idea, though…behind the door is definitely the place to be.



Week in Workouts!

After my move to Manayunk, it took me awhile to get back into a good workout groove.  While I was still working out 4-5 times a week, I didn’t feel like I had a routine and I was truly craving it. I knew with fall looming I would be getting back into a normal work schedule and thought I’d start before Labor Day.  It has definitely changed my mood regarding the end of summer for the better!

Monday: 4 miles on the Cynwyd Heritage Trail

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Goats! The Cynwyd Heritage Trail uses goats for landscaping. It cuts down on on pollution and labor costs for the non-profit. And they’re cute.

Tuesday: A super sweaty first yoga class at Hotbox Manayunk

Wednesday: Solidcore

Thursday: Rest Day

Friday: Solidcore Arms & Abs (It should be called Arms & Ow cause I was in some good pain)!

Saturday: Spin at The Wall

Sunday: Another hot yoga class at Hotbox!

All in all, it was a solid week for working out.  I am hoping that the Saturday/Sunday spin and yoga combo will become a staple in my weekly routine when I am in town…both teachers were phenomenal!

Now that the weather is getting cooler and my allergies seem to be improving (I’ve had constant sinus problems and infections for the last few months), I’m hoping to get back into morning workouts.  The Wall offers super early – like 5:15 AM – spin classes that I’d love to attend regularly!

Race Day Dos & Don’ts

Running a race is always an experience, whether you are excited, scared, or both (exscareded?).  Whatever you do, don’t let your feelings get the best of you, causing you to deviate from your tried and true routines.  Follow the tips below to ensure you start off your race day with a strong foundation.

DO fuel properly

Most runners look forward to the pre-race carboloading, but if not done properly you’ll feel like a bloated Oompa Loompa.  Carboloading is really only beneficial for half-marathon and marathon distances, so don’t eat TOO much pasta before your next 5K. Your body will burn glycogen (converted carbs) and fat during your race, but carbs are the most efficient forms of energy.  Monique Ryan, RD, a dietitian featured in Runner’s World magazine, suggests beginning to carboload a few days before your race and gradually increasing your glycogen stores so that they are full by race day.  Pasta is always a good choice, but don’t limit yourself to just dinner carbs. Bagels, fruits, and granola bars are great options – just watch out for anything with too much fiber…don’t want an emergencies!

DON’T try anything new

Race days aren’t the time to try out your new shoes or buy a new pair of shorts to run in. Your race day outfit should be a tried and true staple of your training. This will prevent blisters, chafing, missing toenails and any other pitfalls of being a runner.

Not trying anything new also applies to food. The days before a race isn’t the time to get Indian food for the first time.  Stick with what you know won’t affect your stomach, whether that be the Mexican joint down the street or a PB&J on white bread.  Whatever you do, don’t eat a new-to-you fiber and protein bar before your run and then be shocked that you have to stop at every Porta Potty for the next 10 miles…not that it happened to me or anything…

DO make a good playlist (if you run with music).

I like to make a special playlist on Spotify for each race. I add some new music and change the order so I don’t know what’s coming next, but it always features some staples like “Shut Up & Dance” and the Rocky theme (#Phillyyo).  If you prefer to be totally surprised, have a friend craft one for you or use Spotify’s pre-made running playlists. They offer songs with BPMs that correspond with your pace so it will help you hit your goal time.

DON’T forget anything

Lay out what you need the night before. Races start at the crack of dawn, or at least feel like it. Don’t waste time the day of searching by the light of your iPhone for the socks you absolutely need.  Create a flat runner with everything you need from head to toe, including headphones, fuel and sunscreen. It cuts out morning surprises.

Flat Annie…adult beverage not included (but desired).

I also put together my breakfast ingredients (my go-to is a piece of toast with a little PB and some honey, two pieces if it’s a longer race) so I know where everything is in the morning. Anything to get a few more minutes of sleep, am I right?

DO remember this isn’t life or death

RELAX. Seriously. It’s just running. You have trained for this. You are ready. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and breathing. Best part? If it’s your first race or first time racing that distance: automatic PR and the bragging rights that come with it.

As you become more accustomed to racing you will create your own list of dos and don’ts. Remember that what works for you isn’t going to work for someone else, so much like you should run your own race you should also prepare for your own race.  While there are many factors of race day you won’t be able to control, focusing on the ones you can will alleviate stress and increase confidence, leaving you to run your best!

Take it outside!

I’m a wimp in the winter, especially if there’s any snow or ice on the ground.  I once ran 15 miles (FIFTEEN! Not an exaggeration!) on the treadmill because I stupidly agreed to a spring marathon without realizing it meant training through an icy, cold winter, and I couldn’t bring myself to slip and slide on the ice.  Needless to say, I am traumatized for life.  Maybe that’s why I take any workouts I can outdoors as soon as humanly possible. Thankfully, I’m not the only one who feels this way which means a plethora of outdoor workouts to choose from. It doesn’t matter if you prefer to go at it alone or if you like a group fitness class – there are options for everyone.

Steps Workouts

While not everyone is as lucky as I am to live by the famed Rocky steps, any steps (think the local high school or college stadium) or inclines provide a great workout.  Combine intervals of running up and down inclines with body weight exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, tricep dips or planks!  Since doing cardio on an incline TORCHES calories and increases your aerobic capacity, even a short workout will do wonders for you.

Cheap Workouts

Summer is a great time to try some new workouts because so many gyms offer free or majorly discounted classes outdoors during the summer months.  One of my favorite local yoga studios, Priya Hot Yoga, offers donation based (at least $5 is suggested) outdoor classes once a month to benefit a local charity.  A local park hosts a hip-hop class (free!) every Tuesday during the spring and summer.  While you might not be a yogi or dancer yet, you can branch out with your workouts without hurting your wallet.

PHY Class
Yoga studios are pretty, but check this view out.

Outdoor Bootcamps

If you are more of a group fitness warrior, preferring a team mentality to solitude, there are plenty of outdoor boot camps to choose from.  Some local gyms will offer summer-long specials for outdoor workouts allowing you to log some workouts without ever setting foot indoors. A few local favorites are Core Fitness and Fit Academy.

If you’re looking for something a little cheaper (aka free) look for a local November Project.  With over 40 chapters worldwide, there might be one close to your town.  Started in 2011 in Boston, the goal was to keep each other accountable to health during the winter months but a little accountability never hurt in the summer either.  After all, how often have you skipped a workout to go to happy hour?  Yeah, me too.

New Ways to Commute

A workout doesn’t have to be a dedicated hour of your day.  Take advantage of the nice weather by creating a more active commute to work or when running errands.  I am about two miles away from my office so I walk when I can.  It saves money (when I don’t stop to buy an iced coffee) and adds another 30+ minutes of activity to my day.  If you live further away, maybe get off the subway a stop early and walk the rest of the way or jump on a bike. If driving is your only option, use your lunch break for a brisk walk.  Since researchers have shown that sitting is just as bad as smoking, any opportunity to get up and move should not be wasted.

The best part about these workouts? You can continue your new habits even when the seasons start to change.  Either keep the workouts outside or incorporate the new moves you picked up at boot camp into your regular gym routine. You’ll have had three months to shake off the cabin fever and will have the warm memories of summer to keep you motivated.

What’s your favorite way to take exercise outdoors? Any good classes I need to check out?

5 Training Tips to Increase Your Speed

When I first began long-distance running, I had two goals for any race: Don’t die and don’t finish last.  After a few (dozen) races, I thought “Maybe it’s time I start to aim higher.” While I know that I am not going to win any races or even be considered a front-of-the-pack runner, I know I can be a better version of myself. I started incorporating tips I found in order to get faster, and it culminated in a big PR at last weekend’s Broad Street Run. They aren’t hard and fast rules, but suggestions that can help you in your running journey. Incorporate one or all and do it your own way – running isn’t the same for everyone.

BSR 2017
Not dead, not last, and actually on my way to a PR! (S/o to the boyfriend for being a much better race photographer than the professionals.)

1. Start lifting weights. – You don’t need to Hans and Franz to get results from strength training. A 2008 study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine followed a group of runners who did squats in addition to the regular running routine.  Their “time to exhaustion” increased by over 21% as compared to the runners who did not do squats.  Either look online for a training program you can do yourself or check out a group fitness class such as Body Pump. I normally get my strength training from a mix of boot camp workouts and [Solidcore] classes…anything is better than nothing so find out what works for you!

2. Cross train. – According to, Runners who cross train become better overall athletes. Taking the time to rest your running muscles and develop new ones through swimming, cycling, or yoga increases overall fitness as well as decreases the pounding on joints that can lead to injury. So take a moment to try a new activity and reap the positive benefits.

3. Follow a training plan. – While you can find formal training plans online (Hal Higdon is my favorite), a training plan can be as simple as planning out your workouts week by week.  Planning ahead ensures you hit your recommend mileage as well as keeps you on track to incorporate strength work and cross training so you can run your best race.

4. Run with faster friends. – I have no scientific evidence for this one, but in running like in life, surrounding yourself with people who are better than you will then help you push yourself to be better. I run shorter runs with my boyfriend and I do my best to keep up. Just make sure to be up front with your new running buddies. Most are very understanding of your desire to be faster and will work with you so that everyone can get what they need from the workouts.

5. Move up a corral. – Much like running with faster friends, racing with faster racers could help you improve your time tremendously. Don’t line up with the elites, but moving up to run with people who plan to run at the faster end of your pace will help you start strong and finish stronger.

Will these tips turn you into Usain Bolt? No. But will they help you become a better runner in whatever way that applies to you.  I know I’m never going to be an elite runner, but there is no greater satisfaction than looking at the race clock and realizing you’ve shaved seconds or even minutes off your time.

Did I miss anything? What tips do you have for people who want to become faster runners?