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Wish List Wednesday… Changing Minds and Changing it Up

A common theme in some of my posts is need for companionship and friendship. Another common theme is my need to change things up somewhat with my cooking. Both are addressed again today.

Todays running wish…

I wish I could change one of my non-running friends into a running friend!

Set up- “I only run when I am being chased”

This is not something that will necessarily save me money, but it will add quality to my running without adding expense. No seriously. Most peole hate running and I am well aware of that. They think I am a weirdo for the multiple workouts I do and the fact that I seem to enjoy the challenge of long distances. My friends may admire my dedication to my passion and my achievement, but they still regard it as something that doesnt interest them at all. Running is hard work. Running is boring. “I only run when I am being chased” are common lines I get back from my non-running friends. The thing is- most of my good friends are fairly healthy people. For example- one of my good co-worker teaching friends is in tremedndous shape, she is a smart eater and does an intense dance class at her local gym. A mother of 2, her fitness level is outstandingly high. She could run. She hates it. There are more examples like it. I guarantee you if I could introduce one or 2 of them to some light running, they would enjoy it. They would find it enlightening, engaging, enthralling, and be hooked by that runners high. After all, I went from hating it to loving it in a very short period of time.  It doesnt seem to be a skill Im good at- translating my interests to others. I would like to try though. I would love to be able to jog it out with a close friend and enjoy the day.  A different kind of running achievement accomplished- value added (to my life and running and others) at zero expense

Im pretty sure that this is how most of my non-running friends think there experience will end 😉

The Ideal Wish- Just get to a 5k

That I could convince just one of my non runner friends to jog with me a few times and then maybe run a 5k with me. For as much as I hate paying for races, I would pace a friend of mine to a nice finish in a 5k if it meant solidifying their interest in running. It would be worth the 20$ to me. I do like running with people, but I prefer to spend time with those I know well and it would just be enjoyable to jog with a buddy than jog by myself or with strangers. Yes I have bonded with new runners who I met after pub runs and 5ks, but it isnt the same. To already have a good friend and to get them into something that you love, would be a thrill that would really make me ecstatic about my running passion.  There are not many options out there that can add a fun component to your running without additional $$$$,  and this really could.

I think a 5k is totally doable for just about everyone out there, including my non running friends

The Reality-  A series of non-options currently

I cant see this happening any time soon in time. Its sad, but a combination of busy schedules, lack of interest, and various injuries have prevented any interested parties from lacing it up. My friend HS is super busy and has her own interests. I tried to convince her to do the 5k I just ran (she expressed some interest) but not so much with the follow through.  My friend ME who stays with sometimes loves to hear stories about my running and even has expressed an interest in being into it. However he has a couple of serious back injuries and I dont want to shove him headlong into something when he is not healthy. Those are my 2 best options. There was a guy I trained capoeira with who tried to get into it.  He wanted to do a 5k, and I was game to help him out. Then his schedule changed and I dont get to see him any more. Another capoeiraista who I was just becoming friends with starting jogging to lose weight, but then quickly hurt himself and gave it up. I guess the reality is that it is difficult to get into running and sustain it as a habit until the point where you actually enjoy that. Compound that with the fact that Im not the persuasive person in the world, dont have the best social skills, and like my group of friends small and that means it will be difficult to get anyone I know currently into running.

A lot of beginning runners ( I know of) give up early when they develop a small injury and never try again. Disappointing but understandable

The Possible- 41 x 40

Make a new friend, and get them into running. In fact I have decided to add that phrase specifically into the 40 x 40 list I just created. A 40 x 40 list is forty things you want to do by the time you are forty.  I compiled mine just last week and it is full of the ridiculous, the challenging, the sublime, and the simple. This wish can be become a reality if it is put on the list and it will be. So now its a 41 x 40 list. I think with the new direction in my life, there will be plenty of opportunity to get it done.

Now onto my nutrition wish….

I wish I knew I how to grill….

Set up- Nothing like some grilled food

Holy crap do I love grilled food. Grilled chicken, grilled pork,grilled fish, and even now grilled veggies. You name it, and you put it on the grill, and I love it. Done right, it add such flavor and quality to your food. My dad is a stellar grillsmith, my mom, my younger sister, and even my brother. I never learned how. I have never been comfortable around grills. I dont particularly like being responsible around large tanks of propane, nor  am I comfortable with large amounts of charcoal and lighter fluid. Plus I hate cleaning up and maintenance which are 2 things that people who grill a lot have to do. Finally my house (townhouse) is not the ideal spot for grilling. There is a lack of space for it for sure. Still I have seen my neighbors swing it, so if I was better at it I could make it work. If I was halfway decent at it, I could probably use my parents range as well.  I would love to be able to grill. I would love to be able to have that flavorful variety to my cooking at only a smaller additional cost. I would love to spice up my cooking with some lovely grill marked meats and veggies

That just looks delicious. I can practically smell it right now- but could I make it?

The Ideal Wish- Become that grillsmith

That I was a grill master. That I would take lovely marinated or rubbed pieces of chicken, pork, and beef and slap them down in that grill and hear that sizzle. That I could enjoy the fun experience of stepping outside and smelling that delicious cooking grill smell which is unlike any other in the entire world. That I could bite into that juicy goodness that is a perfectly grilled piece of food and savor the flavor. That I wasnt intimidated by the gas tanks, charcoal, and fluid- elements of fire- that a grill causes.  That I could enjoy a cooking option which is healthy and allows me to to use simple ingredients which ultimately dont cost that much, and which I largely had already. That I could cook well in the semi primal way.

Grilling offers so many possibilities, and healthy ones at that

The Reality- Lack of space, experience,  and $$$

Firstly I dont really have a lot of money to afford a nice grill or even a small hibachi style for that matter. I probably could make the smaller one happen, but I want some practical experience doing that before I own and I have none so far. Like I said, I dont trust myself around machines that could cause an immense fire. I also know myself too well. I dont like cleaning stuff up. I ruined my George Foreman grill fairly cheap these days) because I was a slacker about cleaning it off, and finally and begrudgingly throw it out. So with a regular sized grill would I be much better?  Im not sure, so I dont know if it is fully wise to invest in a grill. I feel like I would enjoy it the first few times I learned how to do it and slack on the upkeep and end up ruining it.

I loved my Foreman when I first got it, but I was pathetic about taking care of it. It is one of the reasons that I never bought a grill when I moved into my townhouse

The Possible- Practice first or back to the Foreman

I would like to try supervised grilling a few times on my parents grill or a friends grill. Under the guidance of an experienced cooker and in a relaxed environment so I could get some of the basics down and just feel more comfortable. Then possibly I would get a small hibachi, and make it a point to grill out once a month. If I simplified it to that a little, I could make more of an effort to be responsible about it. Or– I could get another George Foreman grill and use it a lot and make a deal with myself. If I can maintain that, then maybe I can advance myself to getting a smaller grill and doing the once a month thing that way. Either process is a possibility these days.

Maybe Ill get one of these little guys down the line once I know what i am doing

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

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Wish List Wursday… Commuting and Eating Out

This week’s Wish List Wednesday deals with 2 things that I probably will never see me in my lifetime. But heres hoping for something close.

My running wish is…..

I wish I could run commute….

Set up- A Soul Sucking Drive

Any regular reader of my blog will know that I despise my current commute for a number of reasons. Its 40 miles and 45 minutes long and 40 miles and 45 minutes of gas. It drains my bank account, my time and my energy. Even if I start the day feeling good, Im lethargic after my lengthy drive to work. Even if I end the end the day on a high, it wont last the soul sucking drive back home. The commute means the best time in the morning to run is 5 am, because I then need time to get ready and drive to work. 5 am running has its benefits, but by Friday it starts to take a toll. If my commute wasnt that long, I wouldnt need to do this. I might get that extra sleep I need as well. I was thinking though, wouldnt it be ideal if I could just run to and from work? Kill 2 birds with one stone? Get my morning run in and get to work? Save gas and help the environment, and all that stuff.

I hate my morning and afternoon commute. It zaps the life out of me.

The Ideal Wish- Morning Runs with Purpose

That I lived 4 miles away or so from where I worked with a route I could vary to 8 or more. That I could find a way to leave clothes/food at my job, get my various runs in on the way to work in the morning (fartlek, tempo, interval, speed), do my job, and then jog it out back home. That I could build my mileage during the work week by running to work. That I would not have to drive unless I truly needed a day off or due to weather. That I could save myself immense amount of gas and save my poor car. That I could enjoy my morning runs even more than normal by giving them a specific purpose beyond training.

I wish my morning runs not only had a specific running purpose but a specific life purpose.

The Reality- Not happening

40 miles and 45 minutes away. No run commuting, because Im not a Tamahumara or an ancient Asian marathon monk. Do I need to say more?

The Possible- A test run

My situation may change in a short time, and I may be run commuting to class if possible, so there is that. Or that could not happen at all, it depends on a lot to still be determined. What could I try for now? A test run commute to and from my parents who live 10 to 15 miles away (depending on route). I could take one early weekend before school ends, run to the parents house in the morning and jog back at night. My parents would be more than happy to feed and hydrate  during the downtime in between the runs. Best of all, no work in between. I think this would be a fun test to see how enjoyable this experience would be. Not to mention, save some gas and some wear and tear on my car

I would have to run commute to my parents off of Bruce B Downs BLVD in Tampa, it has a ton of construction on it which would add to the challenge

Now onto my nutrition wish….

I wish I could healthy when I eat out…..

Set up-  Real Nutritious Food Please

I know there are healthier restaurants out there that cater specifically to people looking for a more nutritious bite. However most people dont eat at those places when they go out, and more specifically my friends and family dont. They eat at places like Fridays, Chilis, Ruby Tuesdays, or other popular chains and restaurants. So that is where I eat. It is nearly impossible to find a healthy, semi-low calorie meal at those places. Screw salads first of all. Im not sitting for an hour of meal and a conversation and having a salad.  I just want a plate of nutritious food that has some taste of it so I can sit with friends/family and enjoy, while they enjoy their pulled pork sandwich or burger or whatever. Im not above any of that stuff, I love a lot of it but honestly sometimes when I get invited out to eat Im not always in the mood for something “fat-tastic” or greasy. I dont want to portion control either. I have seen where people are advised to just take half of their helping and pack it away in a box for future consumption as a means of healthy eating out. I hate this for a variety of reasons. It seems rude to me, reheated food lacks quality, and it defeats the purpose of eating out. I just want to be able to sit at one of those restaurants and enjoy a terrific healthy bite. So why isnt it really offered? Why is only pseudo healthy food offered?

I enjoy a nice rack of ribs as much as the next guy. In fact those are making me hungry right now, but what about when I want to head out with friends and have something tasty thats not a calorie party?

The Ideal Wish- Eat out, eat happy, eat healthy

That I could could get that random invite from my friend “Hey lets head out to -insert chain or standard restaurant- here and have a bite” and I wouldnt cringe knowing that I will have to chose between 1300 to 1500 calorie plates in one meal. That I can say yes and go out and pick a nice plate of chicken/fish/turkey/vegetable centered food, eat it, feel satisfied from a taste/fullness point of view and not consume over 600 to 900 calories. That the healthiest item on the menu woulnt be a salad. That I could sit with friends and enjoy my low calorie plate of food while they chow down on whatever makes them happy. That I could be social, eat out when it comes up, and still eat healthy. That the culnary wizards who run these places-  who can devise delicious and amazing bites of food – could spend a little time, thinking of delicious and amazing bites of HEALTHY food for when you are not always looking to indulge.

It is hard to “eat smart” when you eat out. Choices are so limited, if you are not digging a salad

The Reality- A Calorie Fest

I sat with my Dad yesterday and we both attempted to order healthy plates of food for lunch at an American chain restaurant. He ordered the Turkey Club and I had the Flounder. My dish was a Parmesan Crusted Pan Seared Flounder with a vegetable medley on the side and a Jasmine rice pilaf. Doesnt that sound that bad right? Calorically it adds up to a whopping 1380/1390 calories. Im not that stingy about calories since I exercise a considerable amount but thats a lot for one sitting. My fathers turkey club came with bacon, and would have come with mayo had he not had it removed. All he wanted was a nice turkey sandwich. Eating out and eating healthy is impossibly hard. You have to do a ton of research beforehand and this precludes spur of the moment trips. Im all about planning ahead, but would it kill restaurants to offer one or two truly healthy meals on their menu? Instead of meals that are designed to appear healthy and arent even close. Applebees 550 calorie menu is touted, and I have had one of those meals and they are are sodium loaded and un-appetizing. Is it an admirable step or a way to half ass something to draw in some dieting customers? Im betting on #2. I dont want to eat salads when I eat out. I want to eat meals and it fairly pisses me off that a real nutritious option is near impossible to find.

Without the sauce, the Pan Seared Parmesan Flounder on the left is what made up of the core of my lunch yesterday, not totally unhealthy since it is fish but 940 calories is a lot nonetheless

The Possible- Not a lot of options

I hate portion sizing when Im out as much as I hate salads. When I read various columns about eating smart when I eat out, these are the 2 most common suggestions. If I am capable of providing nutritious healthy meals for myself with mild flavor then why cant restaurants? I have no utterly no hope of expecting them to change their menu in a way reflective of normal sized food with flavor and nutritional content. When I know Im going out, I can order my eating appropriately so that it is not huge problem. When it is spur of the moment? Just make the best choice you can really. I have a fairly good idea of what is healthy and what is not. I guess the other thing to do would be to suggest a more healthy friendly eating spot. None of these are great options to me for a variety of reasons, so the whole thing kind of aggravates me.

I dont even need it that fast. I just want a real healthy option when Im out, instead of fakes.

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

Wish List Wednesday Moved to Thursday Again.. Due to… well.. Life

I love writing my blog, it is one of the favorite things in my life to do. It sucks to me when life gets in the way of writing it. This is just one of those days where that happened. I had an important meeting that was supposed to answer some difficult questions but instead what did I end the day with- ??????????? . And nothing but- ?????????. Decisions abound

Right now, I need to seriously think about it and then let me brain drift for a while. This doesnt leave much time for a column of the quality that I like. So once again we will have a “Wish List Wursday”. I have interesting topics to discuss- Run Commuting and Eating Out and Eating Healthy. See ya tomorrow. Hope things are cleared up.

Enjoy your run. Enjoy your day :0

Wish List Wursday…. Throwaways and Starters

Apologies to the belated post, however Im excited to talk about both of these since they both have been on mind a lot lately. The concept of that throwaway race you just do to well… just do, and the most healthy way to start a meal.

My running wish….

I wish I could run throwaway races…..

Set up-  A host of reasons to race

I read blogs all the time that talk about running a race just for fun, to pace a friend,  or just to take in a new view, etc. You get the idea. Lots of people run races for reasons other than strict competition or to PR. Very often they are bucket list races or small fun races, or even destination races. Furthermore one of the first suggestions for people in a running slump is that they go out and just run a race out of their element and for the sheer enjoyment of it. I find this concept to be awesome. Running for race enjoyment must be fun. Having the ability to complete races as practice, for enjoyment, or to take in a strange locale, or gimmick must be really enthralling. I would love to run the Krispy Kreme Challenge for instance or even the Sarasota 5k that requires you to run entirely on the beach.  I just cant. I can afford few races, and other ones my mother sponsors me for. I run so few races, that to measure my progress they have to be  taken seriously. I wish I could run that simple throwaway race just for kicks, but its not in the budget now.

This would be one of those fun, just do it to do it type races that I cant put on the calendar

The Ideal Wish- Gimmicks, shoelessness, and destinations

I wish that I could run that race for fun. A trail race through the park, a destination halfie, a race with a silly gimmick, or something on my bucket list. Hell, I would even take a regular old 5 or 10k that I could just jog out and see what the pace is as a practice. I wish that every race I ran was not a huge competition, that I didnt have to gear it up every time I toed the line or the gun went off. I wish could take more time to appreciate the scenery of some of the beautiful races around me when I run them.  Instead of missing them staring at my watch for pace because I want to PR or keep a good pace. I wish I could jog a 5k barefoot just to try it out. I wish I could go out and enjoy a race beyond sinking my teeth into that fierce competition. I wish I could run lots of throwaway races and get to experience a wider world and variety of running experiences.

I would love to visit the Outer Banks and run this race, it just looks so cool. It would be my first destination race if I had a chance

The Reality-  Competition all the time

Every race must be a competition for me because every dollar is precious to me. When my mother sponsors me in a race, I dont feel and obligation to run a PR but I feel a need to run well and run hard. I dont want to stop at every rest station and see whats around me, or snap a quick picture from my phone. It is an opportunity to race and I dont get a lot of the them. An opportunity to measure my progress against the clock, to compete and I need to respect that. I wish I had more opportunities to expand what I can do as far as type, variety and intensity of race- but I dont. The reality of my financial situation doesnt allow for that extra race or fun race. Im hopeful that it will down the line-right now- I have to be ready on race day. I owe it to myself.

Im running this cheap, tiny 5k, but it might be my only race for a while so I wont be enjoying whats around me. Ill be looking for a new 5k Pr.

The Possibility- Local fun runs

Absent funding, I am going to plan on using locally organized fun runs through fitness stores and groups to fill my need for that kind of enjoyment running. A local store by me Fitnichhe, sponsors a 5k run through an outdoor mall. Last week there had to be a hundred people there. After the run, people walked over to a local pub for some beer. While I didnt drink, the short run was fun and the time spent with other runners was likewise enjoyable. On the weekends they sponsor a trail run which is becoming popular and I may check out. I prefer to train seriously alone, and these runs are free of charge so no need to take them seriously. Better to just chill out and enjoy the people and places that surround me.

My nutrition wish…

I wish that I liked salad…..

Set up- A vegetable fiend, but no saladifying for me

I love veggies. Always have and always will. Even when I was a kid I loved them. When my brothers and sisters refused to eat simple peas and carrots, I would gulp them down by the spoonful. I even liked green beans growing up. Even when I gained serious weight during my college years and after, I still aways ate a lot of vegetables. Since I have made the switch to being a healthier, more focused eater I have expanded my green vocabulary. I now enjoy broccoli, spinach, sweet peas, asparagus, and a little bit of brussell sprouts (when my mother buys them). One vegetable oriented thing I have never been able to enjoy. Salads. I dont dislike salads. I just dont like them that much. They are plain, boring, not filling, and not enjoyable. No matter how many times I am offered a free one before a meal, I turn it down. No matter how many times, I could hit a salad bar, I skip it.  People tell me it is a cheap way to put together a quick meal, and I argue. Why? I just cant get into them.

I would love to be able enjoy a plate of salad for any purpose, but I cant get into it

The Ideal Wish- Want so badly to like these!

I wish that I loved salads. I wish that I prepared them, had them when I went out routinely, and sought out all different types and varieties of them. I wish that I loved lettuce instead of it not filling me and that it didnt taste like green cardboard  to me. I wish enjoy that I could be satisfied by dumping some dressing or cheese on a salad and having it be tasty. I wish I could incorporate as a quick lunch or pre run race snack. I wish that salads filled me up and made me feel good.

I have tried a variety, and found no enjoyment yet

The Reality- Boring and plain

Salads bore me. Salads dont fill me. Salads seem like wasted calories to me. When someone offers me a salad, I want to request a side of vegetables. I dont want to prepare them or buy them, because it seems a lot of effort for something that wont accomplish that much as far as filling me up and fueling them.

The Possibility- Search and discovery

Im still on the hunt for a good salad and very open to suggestions. This one is still in a search and discovery type mode for me. Im hopeful that my palate will expand enough to include lettuce and tomato being yummy to me. I didnt always like broc or spinach and now I love them. Maybe down the line, the crisp flavors of the salad that everyone enjoys will reach my tastebuds. I hope so, salads seem simple, cheap, and easy to make in great variety of flavors and styles.

Have a gift card for this place, maybe I can put together a good salad here

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

Wish List Wednesday- Cross Training and Cross Culture Cuisine

This week’s Wish List Wednesday, has me wishing for that ideal instrument for some hardcore cross training and for some extra dough to experiment with cross cultural cusine…

This week’s running/fitness wish is…

I wish I had a road bike……

Set Up-  How to cross train best?

One of the most popular conversations among runners is how they best find their exercise when they are not running. Weird huh? We spent so much time talking about running, and actually running that the flip side of that experience becomes almost as crucial. What do you do on days when you just cant run or need a break from running but still want a workout? There are tons of answers to this X training  question from p90x to yoga, from water aerobics to rock climbing- everyone has their thing. I cross train a variety of ways – using group fitness at my gym, the row machine, and my punching bag at home. There is one more thing I would desperately like to do to be able to cross train effectively though. While all of those options keep me fit and strong, there is a simpler solution that could provide a more natural open air workout and still have me prepared for my next run successfully. Cycling. Cycling is routinely described by runners, fitness experts, and the like as the most effective form of cross training for runners. I would love to get into cycling. One big problem. No bike. New bikes are ridicuously expensive, and used bikes are still “out of my league” costly.

I would love to be able to add this to my cross training routine on a weekly basis.

The Ideal Wish- Just ride away

I would love to be able to use Saturdays (my biggest cross training day) day to just grab my bike and gear and go for an extra long ride of who knows how many miles. I would love on long workout days to be able to flush out the legs with a short ride. I would love to be able to run in the morning on those hot hot hot Florida days, but still enjoy the outside in the afternoon with a spin on the bike. I would love to be able to take my bike out to a short sprint triathlon and try it once or twice and see how it would do. I would love to be able to join a group ride for a little bit and too relax and settle in to meet some new people. I would love to be able to use my bike to make me a well rounded athlete, and therein a stronger runner.

I couldnt tell you if this is a really good cycle or not, but I would love it have it

The Reality-  Nothing “only” about $200

I dont have one and I cant afford one. Everyone acknowledges that the price of a nice new bike/cycle is incredibly expensive, but many like to suggest to me purchasing a used bike. “You can find a used one for only $200” is a popular quote I have heard from people. Right, just two hundred dollars. Yeah thats realistic. If by realistic you mean totally not existing in reality. That doesnt even begin to cover the oost of helmet, clothes, and other gear.

Right now I have to be content with the ocassional neighborhood spin on my parents road bike and the copious amount of spinning I do at my gym. I love to spin, I love the workout, the energy, and the camaraderie. Im no fool, I get its not cycling but it is all I have right now to get a cycle style workout. Many cyclists dismiss it as “aerobics on a bike” which is fair, but it serves its purpose. Besides most spinners dont necessarily view it as cycling. Instead they see it as good HIIT training and an acceptable substitute.

Im an avid spinner, do it several times a week and really enjoy it

The Possibility- Ride it until it is mine

I dont see much movement on this one. Ill keep spinning as long as I am a member of my gym. I honestly have terrific spin instructors who make each class an enjoyable experience and a hard workout so I am always happy to take those classes. I guess I will definitely make an effort to ride my parents road bike a little bit more, maybe take it out to the nearby park with its loads of trails to become a more seasoned rider. I honestly do think that if I kept riding it more and more, they would probably grow tired of it and just cede it to me since they barely ride it anyway.

Now onto my nutrition wish…..

I wish I could experiment with my more global cuisine…

Set up- Global variety is good

To me one of the tenets of a healthy eater is that they are varied and experimental. No matter how many calories you count, you really shouldnt eat the same things over and over again. You need to broaden your horizons, eat a variety of flavors, dishes, and food products. That way you give yourself more options to eat healthy dishes and avoid getting into a eating rut. Eat the same foods over and over (no matter how healthy) and you get bored with your day to day diet and you are more likely to find easy unhealthy options to satisfy that variety. Open up your palette to the world, and your options to eat healthy and strong are almost unlimited.Unscientific yes, but I honestly believe this. Personally,  I would love to be able to do exactly that. Tampa may not be the most cultural of cities, but it does have a wide variety of ethnic restaurants that I would love to sample. The problem is I have little extra cash to eat out, and not many friends interested in experimenting

They serve this at a recommended Vietnamese place in Tampa. Sooooooo want to try

The Ideal Wish- One new place a week

I would love to be able to go out to a new exotic restaurant once a week and try a brand new dish or new ethnic cuisine. I would love to go out with a friend or family to that Ethiopian style place in South Tampa, the Spanish place in downtown Tampa, or one of the Middle Eastern places that dot the area. I would love to be able to go back and try that Vietnamese place  or Korean BBQ I had many years ago. I would love to be able to sample new cuisines the way my parents sample new wines or my sister samples new beers. I would love to be able to embrace the global food possibilities that exist around me.

This is a Middle Eastern style place I would very much like to try in Tampa... mmm kabobs

The Reality- Be grateful for what you can get

Not much in the budget for eating out. My dining out experiences on my own are limited to the occasional trip to the exotic locale known as “Subway”.  Truly out there as you can see. Im not deprived, I do get to eat out quite a bit because my parents often invite me to their functions, occasional dinners out,  or treat me to dinner at their club. However there  is nothing new at these places. Members of my family are consistent eaters, they find a few tasty restaurants and they stay there. They dont really want to experiment with most things new or wild. This is not an indictment on them, it is a solid proactice. After all if you find a tremendous BBQ place like Leroy Selmons in Tampa, why deviate from that? If the menu at your club serves terrific chicken parm or well prepared fish, why do you need to go anywhere else? I get the mentality even if I dont share it.  Besides in my case, beggars cannot be choosers. My parents can be too generous when treating me to things. When it comes to meals out, I just shut up and thank them and enjoy whatever Im getting.

Nothing wrong with Leroy's, I love it, I just want to expand a little

The Possibility- 2 Choices

A couple of things are possible here:

1) Supermarkets- Find the ethnic foods isle, and every week pick out a diferent food/product that I would like to try from a different part of the globe. This could be made as ultra cheap as I like it and is massively convenient.

2) Farmers Markets- Local farmers markets are great places to just stroll around and see what fresh and local fruits, veggies, breads, cakes, honeys, jams– err you name it  – is available. Most farmers markets around here also feature food stands from a variety of different ethnic areas. Generally speaking you could probably sample one or 2 cuisines for right about ten dollars and not break the bank. Next time the one near me comes back, Im trying the Ethiopian place.

Maybe at the next farmers market, Ill get to taste the flavor my friend has been raving about

Enjoy your run. Enjoy your day :O

A Huge Weekend Runcheap Thank You To… 2 For a Dollar Fruit at 7-11

This weekends huge runcheap thank you deals with a combination of convenience and cheap cost:)

Thank you 7-11 for providing a cheap available fruit to someone who is constantly on the go and doesnt have the time for a longer shopping experience!

Thank you for realizing that amongst the unhealthy loads of crap that you typically sell people, there are some of us out there who need a healthier option and need it quickly!

Sometimes I think the writers for big fitness/nutrition sites both online and in print operate under the assumption that all of us have endless time to peruse nutrition stores, the aisles of organic supermarkets, or stop at every fruit stand on the side of road to spend several minutes picking out the best fruit. Guess what? I dont. I drive a lot, and I am constantly on the go and I dont have the time to do all that, or the cash to always drop several dollars on tasty fruit. Sometimes I just need a good piece of fruit on the go cheaply. Sometimes I just want a nice filling apple or a nice banana to temporarily satisfy a growling stomach prior to a hard gym workout. Or perhaps I just want a bit of healthy nutirtious energy before a run. 7-11 offers their fruit 2 for a dollar, and they are everywhere along m driving routes. It is just so simple, a quick in and out. The entire transaction takes maybe 2 to 3 minutes and I am back on the road headed to my destination and with something delightful.

I have to drive considerably and thus convenient stores are well, convenient for me. It is nice to know that there is always cheap fruit available quickly

I know a lot of runners and fitness experts turn their nose up at places like convenience stores, 7-11’s, and other little hubs that you can wander into. With some good reason. Their deals typically emphasize unhealthy fattening items, and they seldom have anything that is truly fresh. Also I obviously dont have the time for hard data nor access to it, but my super informal survey is that most people leaving those places arent leaving with a healthy selection. However.

A ginormously big huge however. That doesnt mean that there are not nutriious options available at those places. A good percentage of these locations around where I live sell things like fruit, granola bars, little boxes of cereal, canned tuna, even greek yogurt. Those items are there. Thats right, there are healthy or perhaps healthier options at these places. People just chose not to buy them. If I wrote a nutrition column, I would focus on teaching people to make healthy choices at typically unhealthy places/convenient places. Places where real people go often. Take 7-11 for me. I drive 80 miles a day on my soul sucking commute and I try to stay fit via multiple workouts. Obviously this means a lot of time at gas stations. Its very helpful to know that I can pop in and pop out of a store like this and have a Granny Smith and a Gala apple in the palm of my hand. Its helpful to know that 2 fresh bananas await me so I can multitask filling up my car and filling up my stomach with a preworkout snack.  I dont have the time (I really dont) to go all the way to into a supermarket (not on my route to work and often not open after I workout in the early morning) and purchase something.

1 of these guys and Im good to go for a gym, and good to go after the workout to refill.

Yes of course I keep fruit at home.  But when you are on the go sometimes you dont account for that little extra bite you may need. Or maybe  you decide you just want to jog a few extra miles because it is so beautiful outside.  Or maybe a I hit that morning workout with extra intensity. On those days Im really thankful to know exactly what I can get before I enter the store. An apple is great before a lift session and great after a run to me. Bananas are instant energy, and I was so glad Disney used them during the marathon at aid stations. Good, cheap, fruit keeps me running healthy, running cheap, and running strong. Nice to know there are convenient cheap locations all over the place to get them when I need them. So Thanks again to 7-11 for providing that “2 pieces of fruit for a buck” deal. It may not be the best deal on the planet cost-wise, but its easy and convenient and ALWAYS there when I need it.

I cant tell you how many times, I have dropped a quick buck for a pair of these many a time, and then downed one, and then hit a good run.

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

Wish List Wednesday… Fuel and Food Favorites

Remember when I said that the Wish List Wednesday posts mostly wouldnt be simply about running gear that I am craving that I cant really afford? This week is one of those cases where it will be. This is an item I really need, and I crave having one as much as I crave the other item on the nutrition part of the post.

For my running wish…..

I wish that I had a Fuel Belt….

Set up- So much to carry, so few hands

I want to start going longer distances and building up to try my hand at further marathons, trail runs, and ultra runs. In order to better prepare/ perform in these races and training runs, I need to a way to refuel during my run. I need to be able to carry food, water, cell phones, keys and other items in a convenient way so Im not death gripping six different items while going distance and checking pace on my watch. Although I have resisted, I know I need one. The problem is they are a little out of my price range.

One of these would be so helpful to improve my running

The Ideal Wish-  Love Ifitnessinc

I know exactly what I want is this case and here they are. Either one or the other would be fine

http://www.ifitnessinc.com/index.php?_a=viewCat&catId=14

http://www.ifitnessinc.com/index.php?_a=viewCat&catId=15

I wish that I had one of these so I could strap it on, ram all the stuff I needed into it and get running. I wish that when my nutrition fails me I could reach into my pouch for another gel, or some other tasty treat I prepared for my run to boost my energy. I wish that I could put my phone safely away so I wouldnt be worried about dropping it and breaking it. I wish that I could put my keys in their so they didnt hurt my hands when I grip them on lengthy runs. I wish I could put my credit card in their as a just in case type deal. I wish that I actually had water with me on long runs to keep hydrated and train better. I wish that I had a fuel belt that would allow me to stay hydrated/energized/refreshed on these long runs so I could perform my best.

The Reality- Dehydrated and uncomfortable

I dont have one. On runs longer than 17 miles, I carry gels (or granola bars) with me in my hand, along with my keys, my gate opener (sometimes), and my phone. Its quite a pair of handfuls. Its uncomfortable to run with. Plus-notice something missing? No water. I rarely do distances between 17-20 with water. I know its not good for you and it limits performance but I simply cant carry anything more. I have to make those decisions beforehand. When I go longer than 20, I water place. I go out the night before, find 2 spots and place water bottles along the route. This is extra work and extra gas and gets me creepy looks late at night. There have literally been times when I have become so hungry and/or thirsty while running that I looked at the side of the road for water bottles and such. Seriously. Only a couple of times but still. Im sick of carrying everything in my hand. It is frustrating and limiting.

I have no free hands to carry one of these. On really long training race, I have to hunt for spots to hide them on my running route

The Possible- A Shoe Solution

Stuck on this one. I tried one at the expo for Gasparilla where I believe it was on sale. I was THIS close to buying one, but I had to resist the urge. It is a good thing I did. What stopped me? Uh, 1 pair of broken glasses and 1 severely bent pair. Plus, a cell phone that badly needs to be replaced. None of those have been fixed about a month or so later. Tack on having to pay $300 dollars to get the sideview mirror of my car fixed after I knocked it off on parents gate like an idiot. I certainly dont have the money for it. There is a 10 dollar device that they sell at Fitniche (a local runners’ store) which attaches to your shoelaces and is probably good enough to squeeze in a few things- a gel, a key, credit card maybe-  to free my hands of some of the stuff. It is not ideal, but it would be a step in the right direction and I can probably justify that expense

One of these for 10$ will probably be a purchase I make soon

Forward to my nutrition wish……

I wish I could have a real NY Bagel!!!!!!!!

Set up-  Cheap, yummy, and perfect for runners

I love bagels, absolutely love them.  Not to mention that for a runner its an excellent (and usually cheap) nutritional source in a variety of circumstances. It is good during glycoloading phase before big runs, good to replenish after runs, good as a breakfast before a big workout. To a runner it is an excellent source of needed carbohydrates. To a non runner it is fine too. Despite being labled by the South Beach and Atkins inspired Carb Police as an unhealthy food because of the caloric count and carb heavy nature, bagels can play a healhty role in a well organized, well thought out diet. I used to eat them a lot after my long runs, but the quality of bagel down here is so lousy that I miss the real deal. The ones I grew up with. The bagels down here are not worth the price they put on them however small.

The Ideal Wish- I miss that NY flavor

That I could enjoy a bite into a nice fresh, Long Island made bagel after a hard saturday of cross training, or a hard 17 mile long run. That I could replenish my carb supply with that delicious bit of NY flavor. That I could glycoload using one of those huge tasty bagels you can find any where on the streets of New York City. That as a treat, I could smother some peanut butter on half of one and use this as a quick, delicious, energzing breakfast. That I could enjoy the tasty product I grew up loving, that I took for granted when I was there, and that came in that white bag with the pungent yummy smell most weekends of my childhood… so good.

Totally craving a nice fresh LI bagel

The Reality-  A huge bagel snob

I dont refuel, carb load, or treat myself with bagels down here any more. Why? They are terrible. Im a huge bagel snob. I genuinely dislike bagels from just about any chain place ( 1 exception). When someone tells me about a delicious bagel from Panera Bread or Dunkin Donuts, I literally cringe. I look down my nose at bad bagel eaters the way my sister the beer snob looks down at me when I sip a hard cider or Miller Lite. Publix makes tolerable bagels, but even after running the marathon in Gainesville, I really didnt want to eat those mini offerings. When I was unhealthy I use to eat 7-11’s bagel with cream cheese most mornings plus a muffin and feel ashamed of myself both because of the excess of what I was eating and the poor quality of what I was eating. These bagels are brutal. To me this could be a useful, delicious food source as a runner. Another connection of a food that I love that also serves a cheap and effective purpose in my running. Instead, I almost never touch them anymore down here in the F L A.

Panera calls this a bagel and while it may be tasty to some, it doesnt work for me.

The Possibility- One acceptable place

Not planning any NY or metro area trips anytime soon due to expense and time purposes, so that option is out. Unfortunately visitng family from Connecticut did not smuggle down a bunch of those delicious goodies during their visits this year. Colossal, galactic sized fail on their part! Occasionally one of my fathers business friends shows up with some from NY, but I feel badly taking from my parents since they miss the bagels almost as much as I do. It looks like for the near future, I am going to have to be content with the closest possible substitute- Big Apple Bagels. Big Apple Bagels is a decent chain down there that stresses that they sell NY quality bagels. NY style bagels can really only be found in NY (ok maybe Jersey and CT as well) but BAB makes a bagel that is pretty good. It is the only acceptable substitute within driving distance of my place. They are not good enough, but will have to do for the time being.

This is the only place I will eat a bagel from in Florida. Not quite NY, but not close enough.

Oh wow, now Im really craving a bagel! Damn!

Enjoy your run. Enjoy your day :0

Wish List Wednesday… Hilling and “over”filling

On Today’s Wish List Wednesday, Ill deal with my desire to improve my running through up and down  terrain and my inability to handle those buffets and potlucks.

So…………

Today’s Running Wish Is…….

I wish… I lived near more runnable hills

Set up- Horrible Helpful Hills

Hills improve your running in every way imaginable. They build muscle, improve your cardio, and can be used as an important  tool to build speedwork. This is to say nothing of the fact that a lot of the courses that I hope to run later in my life have lots of terrain. Unfortunately I live in pancake flat Florida. Seriously, one  of my favorite parks in Florida to run in is called Flatwoods Park in New Tampa. It lives up to its name and then some. In fact any good place to run in the Tampa area is similarily plagued by flatness. If I want to run hills outside, it requires some driving which means more time and money that I dont always have, or a treadmill.

The IDEAL Wish- Must Repeat, Must Repeat, Must Repeat

I want a couple of things here. I want a big a gigantic hill near my house thats good and long with a nice huge incline so I can ran some quadricep bursting hill repeats. So I can feel the pain of pushing through #9, when I can barely feel my legs. So I can run hell hill mondays for real and barely be able to walk home. I also want a nice long hilly course with some severe  enough up and down to make a real difference. That has specific miles that I dread running and horrible hills that I can give fun hateful nicknames too.

I would love some sort of big hill right near where I live

The Reality- Treadmill trudges 

I have to run most of my hillwork on treadmills. The hill setting on my treadmill sets you up on repeats through 4 increasing sized inclines, each for a minute, with a minute flatter section following.  I typically run it for 50 minutes and the level of inclines I select depends on what I am training for. The 50 minutes generally means that I will complete 4 sets of 4 hill increases, discounting time for beginning and end.

Ocassionally, Ill pop up to a little town about 20 minutes or so away from where I live called San Antonio.There is a college there called St. Leo University, and I will leave my car there (semi-legally)  and hit some hills. In particular there is an 8 mile loop with decent hills that goes around the area. The run is pretty, and I would do it often but there are problems. Firstly, its not a runnable course. There are no shoulders on the side of the road to run most of the course on. Stepping off onto the side of the road is fine with me, but thats not any better. Ruts, branches, leaves, unstable grass are all characterize any off road running you must do and I dont want to injure myself in pursuit of good hills. Secondly, if you stay on the road, get prepared to dodge traffic around blind spots. Youre running on (and I mean on) 2 lane roads in a rural town and cars do not slow down and do not really want you there, so it can get really dangerous. Of course, its also a 20 minute drive so it means more gas and mileage on my car.

I trained hard for hills (in my way) before Gainesville. I had the treadmill on a super high setting every Monday and I ran San Antonio a few times in preparation for that course. Still, it felt like I was making an effort to run hills, rather than knowing how to run hills. It showed on the back half of that race which didnt have huge hills but steady uneven terrain. If I had consistent hills to run whereby it would be second nature, I would have killed that course.  But I didnt, and I flamed out in the back half.

The Possible-  More of the same

In this case, the possibility is also the reality. Hit the treadmill at a hard incline setting.  Or maybe just put in a extra hill workout (I dont know where) on the treadmill thats a straight climb where I put it on a slow speed for a long time at set incline which I could increase from week to week. Other than that, a move further north (somewhere in Florida possibly) to a place with some terrain would be helpful. It might be on the horizon for me.

Now my food/nutrition wish…

I wish I could control myself at pot lucks and buffets

The Set Up- Willpower now departing

For whatever reason I always seem to end up at a lot of potlucks/buffets. My capoeira group has them with surprising frequency and they are fun, cheap entertainment to go to. They are packed with delicious food choices, ranging from yummy salty snacks, to delicious dinner treats, to to decadent baked goods. Bring something to one of these events and you have fair game to go to town on the humongous spread of food that is ineveitably there. I have a problem with this. I can never determine how much is good enough, and I want to try anything. Besides the food is just sitting there for free, waiting to be eaten. What ineveitably seems to happen is that by the end of the evening, Captain Willpower has left the galaxy, and the eating frenzy commences. It can get worse with buffets that I pay for. I just want to go to these things and not leave feeling gypped or stuffed to the point of embarrassment and disoredered eating.

Temptation is hard in this case for a couple of  reasons. To begin with both of these situations are fairly low cost.  So of course I want to get as much as I can for whatever I spent. Plus in many cases its food I will not be able to produce on my own (cost and talent)and may never see again. So I indulge too much.

The Ideal Wish- Satisfied but not stuffed

That I could attend a potluck, and try a small sample of all the home cooked stuff and savor it slowly and just move on. That I could enjoy the worthwhile food, that came from the many talented home chefs I know and not touch the store bought crap that appears on the same pot luck table. That I could walk away and avoid picking at smaller things the whole evening. That I could leave one of those events feeling like I had a good time, and satisfied that I enjoyed and not consumed the food (which is a line that I cross far too often). Or that I could go to the buffet, isolate a good variety of things I want to try and have a couple of small plates of dinner, than maybe one or 2 dessert treats and walk away. That I could feel like getting my money’s worth was not an excuse to eat six consecutive plates of food goodness.

The Reality- Fixing the smaller percents

I am a healthy eater pretty much 90 to 95% of the time. I count calories, eat colored meals as often as possible, and eat the right mix of foods as often as I can. Whole grains, carbs, lean proteins, fruits and veggies are regular parts of my diet that I enjoy and I eat routinely. I work out really hard and really often so if an opportunity for an indulgent meal comes up on the week or weekend I dont pass it up. I definitely have earned it and I am smart enough to know that a return to healthy eating consistently and my workout pace will prevent me from sliding down an unhealthy path. I am also smart enough to know, that being healthy doesnt mean you need to deprive yourself of tasty and decadent foods once in a while. Good food is meant to be eaten, albeit smartly.

The problem becomes when I attend these situations and I lose self control. I feel justified – due to expense and effort – to just go to town and binge badly. Thankfully, they dont happen THAT often. Still they do occur. Last summer I went to Asian buffet and ate so much that I felt no desire to eat anything for close to the next 24 hours. As recently as a week ago,  I was at a capoeira event with a pot luck where I ate plate after plate after plate after plate. The food was so good, everything home made, unique,  and scrumptious. I couldnt get enough. It was deliciously bad.  Probably about once a month and half an indulgent meal becomes an eating fest. Thankfully it has not effected my running or training, but I would still like to get this under control.

The Possibility- Self Control and Strategy

This one is also tricky to correct. I enjoy food a lot, especially new types of cuisine from home cooks. I dont get the chance to eat what they offer that much. I dont get the chance to try new foods that much. I just dont have the time or the money to experiment with new foods.  So I overcompensate by taking advantage of these situations too much. As far as pot lucks go, I plan on writing a list of strategies down on an index card which will be reminders of why binging is a bad idea. I also plan on trying to not be that hungry when I am there, maybe eat a small meal beforehand. Also, I plan on bring a super healthy snack that I can pick at the whole night and stay by. I have completely cut myself off from all buffets. After I went on the cruise with my family, I knew there was no other option.

I guess the more intrinsic thing to do would be to develop more self control. Thats still a huge work in progress. Healthy eating habits are a constantly developing challenge. Finally, learning how to cook with more variety and more flavor would probably also temper some of what happens on those days. No need to over experiment, when I can do it myself

I might need to carry this around in my wallet

Enjoy your run. Enjoy your day :0

Looking for a different kind of PR this Monday

****On a side note, before I start. Just read the April Runners World at my local bookstore. Great as always. If you get a chance, find it and  read Tish Hamilton’s column called “The Cure”. Simply Stellar*****

Every Monday, I use the hour in between finishing weight lifting and my evening spin class to go food shopping at the Publix (best local supermarket in Florida) across the street from my gym. Food shopping in Supermarkets has become one of my favorite chill passtimes of late. I used to cringe when I would go. Every time I paid for whatever I needed I could see literally see the numbers getting smaller in my bank account. Lately I have taken different a tact. I have turned it into sort of a game, a money saving game. How much money can I save and still get what I need to be a healthy, nutritious person in a way that will keep me running?

Im prepared for said game,  with the Publix circular that comes out every Wednesday and lists all the good deals (I love the buy one get ones especially-Yay for BOGOS!). I analyze this like a political expert might sift closely through polling data and demographics, seeing what works for me and what does not. I also use local papers to find and any manfacturers coupons that might come in handy in an effort to save a buck. I used to make fun of people who used coupons and looked around for good bargains. Seriously.  In my stupidly,  formerly chauvinistic way, I would say things like “It is not worth saving 80 cents if I have to carry around that silly piece of paper. What guy would want to do that?”. It was arrogant, and dumb,  and as my budget shrunk I abandoned that post as fast as humanly possible (If you like history, think of the Americans fleeing the Battle of Bladensburg during the war of 1812…wow I am a dork). Now I have regular conversations about coupons and deals with my mom and others. When I see a group of people eating strawberries and blueberries at work, I say  out loud to them, “2 for 5 at Publix huh?”.  They usually laugh and nod.

I love BOGO at Publix. It is starting to really help me out

Last Monday, I saved close to 12 bucks in a short shopping trip during one of those “BOGO Mondays” as I sometimes like to call them. That was a PR, by far. Like running, practice at saving money makes perfect. The more I have to shop cheaply, the better I get at it and the more satisfying it gets when I succeed. 3 for 5 on cartons of Strawberries, BOGO on Life Cereal, dollar off Corn Flakes, and  BOGO on Diet Lemonade were what did it this time. It was a good feeling to know that I had done something smart to save money. Especially since  I largely still got what I needed. This monday I need some more food, and it might be a bigger shopping trip. I smell a new PR on the horizon.

Will this week's circular lead me to a new food savings PR? 🙂

Enjoy your day. Enjoy your run :0

Wish List Wednesday

Lets get right to it………..

Todays Wish List Wednesday Running/Fitness topic is….

I wish….

I had a running companion…

Set up- Virtual Running Companions

Running companions seem like such a great thing to have. I have read countless articles about how they improve your training, keep you on track, and just make running more enjoyable. It is that last part that I really makes me want one. I really wish I had a good friend who loved running as much I do, and lived close enough to run with me on a consistent basis. I should clarify, I have a couple of friends who are runners who I chat with over text/email/computer about running and racing quite frequently. These conversations are enjoyable, but virtual running companions are not real running companions. You see none of these people can actually run with me, because of conflicting lives as it were. Running groups- which are prevalent in the area, and have a level of support of camaraderie that I really enjoy- dont work for me for a variety of reasons.

The IDEAL Wish- That Extra Layer

I wish that I had a buddy male/female around my age to do my night time runs with me. I wish that I could call them up on Wednesday night, and say “Hey I hit intervals pretty hard this morning, what pace do you want to do tonight? And where do you want to go?”.  Or that I could text them on Friday and say , “I need an easy recovery tonight or tomorrow, can we do a slow 4?”. Just like that, like it was a common request and the friend would frequently say yes, or let me know when I needed a break and told me no. I wish that we could discuss our individual training times while chilling and stretching out after our runs and then just hang out and do whatever. That would be awesome. Even though I would still keep my hardcore training individual, and only run light tempos and recoveries with my running pal, I believe it would still help me improve and just add an extra layer of enjoyment to it

I would love to just have someone I could jog with on a consistent basis

The Reality- Playing Solitaire

I train entirely solitary and run the majority of races the same way. This isnt exactly a horrible thing. I prefer to do the harder aspects of my training alone. I have no problem self-motivating and I can push myself really well. I just focus better when its only my internal voice demanding the next level. The downside to this is that it can get inredibly lonely. I would love to do lighter runs with friends or buddies at night, when Im not going exceptionally hard and its more about fun. Money and time prevent this. Most of my running friends (only a few) are as busy as me and we cant connect because of time, distance, and schedule. Running groups are a great option but dont work for me for a host of reasons. The biggest one runs on days that I cross train. Plus it would require I get up at near 4 :30 am to run with them on weekdays, which is just too early and would add to my caffeine addiction. “Running for Brews” groups are common in the area and seem like they are a viable option at first glance. But reality is much different. I dont have a lot of money to go drink beer after I run, thats ten dollars I could be spending elsewhere. Ten dollars wont kill me for sure, but I dont particularly enjoy drinking lots of beer after I run. I tried it after the Blue Moon Half and it just didnt feel right.  So now you are talking about ten dollars to nurse beer Im not enjoying, and that I could be saving or spending on something I need. I know, I know, I dont have to drink anything, but who wants to be that guy? Besides which, most of those groups would require lots of gas and driving just to get to. I already roll 80 miles a weekday on my car as its. I dont want to have to drive far to run and add mileage to the poor dying Scion, unless its for a race.  So solitary it is. All the time

Although this one is from my last race, all my training and night time runs looks like this. Running by myself

The Possibility- Chatting It Up

In a few months the whole situation may change, and I may end up in an environment where there are more runners around me all the time. In the meantime I think I have a responsibility to just make the most of my race day experiences. Chat runners up at expos, or during pre-race and post race. Most runners are excessively friendly at those times. I have had some of the best conversations with people at pre-race before every distance race I run. Sharing each others pre race jitters, chatting about the latest gear, discussing prs, or just shooting the breeze as it were. Those are people I need to make friends with in some bigger regard. Also its a great time to just savor and soak up the conversation. Who knows? Maybe Ill meet someone who has some extra time for a Friday jog with me.

Sometimes the best conversations happen right at the start line, a quick chance to make good friends possibly?

Now…

Onto……

My nutrition wish………….

I wish had good knife skills…..

Set Up- Not Exactly Cutting It Up

To me, you need good/great knife skills to be a good chef. I want to eventually be a successful chef to be able to put together fun, healthy, and nutritious meals for myself to eat. The idea is that these  will be cheap, tasty and simple. In short, with good knife skills I could produce Runcheap delights and probably save some dough.

Right now, I am a nutritious eater but I do it in a beyond simple manner. Bland chicken breast, brown rice, and frozen mixed veggies is a normal dinner for me. Occassionally Ill switch it up, add in some black beans, store bought fish (but tasty) filets, sweet potatoes and other frozen veggies. See what I am getting at here? Simple, easy, boring, and involving no cutting whatseover. Knife cutting intimidates me because Im terrible at it, and do it badly. I would love to tell you its because I have lousy knives but I dont. I am well equipped (although I take crappy care of my knives) , I just hate using them, because Im bad at it. Scratch that, Im awful at it. Whats worse is I have taken a class in knife skills and learned some additional techniques from my mother. Yet, I still continue to struggle at it.

I own a decent set of cooking knives and a nice block like the one you see above. Most of the time, it just sits there

The IDEAL wish- A Knife Master

That I could cut up foods like a combination of Kat Cora, Bobby Flay, and Morimoto combined. That I could cut up fresh carrots into perfect slices. That I could look at an onions, peppers, other fresh greens in the stores and just grab them and dice and slice them into exactly what I wanted to. This way my meals would be delicious and exciting. That I knew how to properly cut up meats into correct sizes to sautee them and use them in unique ways.  That I could use my chef’s knife like it was second nature, and my other knives for whatever they are for (I honestly have no idea). That I remembered everything and more from the very good knife skills class I took. That I could look at recipes with a lot of cutting and think-“Pssh, I got that. No worries, I am a knife master.”

I love cooking shows, its 90% of my tv viewing. I wish I could use my knife maybe 10% as well as some of these guys to make myself cheap but interesting dinners

The Reality- Unfine motor skills

When I was very young my parents discovered that I have grossly terrible fine motor skills. Cutting with scissors was a disaster, pasting objects was surprisingly difficult, coloring inside the lines became coloring close to inside the lines, and handwriting-  well, calling it chicken scratch doesnt do it justice. Hell, my parents almost had me tested but did not because they were worried about me getting a dangerous label at school. So it is not a surprise that my cutting skills with food are lackluster. It doesnt help that I avoid it like the plague. If I see a recipe with an onion to be chopped, I dont do it. The same goes with most peppers, fresh veggies, and fine cuts of meats. Basically, if they ask for a cutting technique that I cant otherwise accomplish in the food processor, then forget it.  That recipe is out.

About a year ago, I took a class in knife skills close to where I live. It was an excellent class that reviewed every aspect of knives from types of cuts to types of knives. We practiced cutting a whole bunch of different foods, and as a class collectively produced a delicious soup and sandwich type meal from it. I was certain it would improve my knife skills. I didnt follow up though. I didnt have the money to go out and practice cutting, but mostly I didnt pursue it further because other things came up. Consequently, anything that I might have picked up through brain or muscle memory was completely lost.  So Im back to square one, or cut one in this case.

See how well everything is cut here? Picture the complete opposite and thats my ability level

The Possibility- Cutting Bootcamp

This one is a harder fix. I probably just need to find a few days this summer, and devote them to learning technique. Call it a “cutting bootcamp” if you will. I would start by finding books on knife skills from the library or printing stuff online so I can get the techniques straight in my head. I can do all this part on the cheap. Then I think it would be a good idea to review the skills of cutting  a few different cheap fruits, veggies, and maybe one or 2 other things with my mother. Not only is she a great cook, but she loves to teach cutting/cooking and she has good knife skills. Then the next step would be to buy in bulk (usually cheaper) several of these items (Potatoes, onions, I dont know..) and cut away until I got them the way I liked. I dont expect myself to ever be great, but I think I could improve significantly. Once I conclude this few days of practice (which I could probably do for 20$ or so), I would then look up recipes that use these the items I practiced with.  Next I could cook 1 or 2 of them to reinforce and reward the skills. Then over the next few months, I would make it a point to constantly cut and cook with those cheaper items to get to a comfortable level with them. At that point, I could slowly and cheaply branch out as much as is possible.  If I followed that plan I think I could increase my knife ability from Skill Level-Atrocious to Skill Level-Acceptable/Effective. Then I might be able to cook some of those healthy and CHEAP meals I constantly come across online and in magazines, instead of running for the hills when I see them.

I need to read up, get re-educated, and then learn how to wield one of these things so I that I am able to cook cheaply for myself in a pinch

Enjoy your run. Enjoy your day :0

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