Friday, June 27, 2014

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Easy Chocolate Mousse

The majority of our things are on their way to Chicago. It's hard to believe that the time is nearing for our big move up north. It's even harder for me to believe that this is the second big interstate move in five years and third in nine years. First it was Boston and now it's Chicago; I'm starting to think the north really wants us.

One of the frustrating things about this move has been having to plan what goes, what stays, and what we can live without for two weeks. A lot of my kitchen things went up so I am left having to be creative and making recipes that don't require much kitchen equipment. This recipe for Chocolate Mousse fits that bill perfectly as it doesn't require baking and the ingredients are minimal. The best part is that it comes together quickly and tastes amazing.

Easy Chocolate Mousse
Source: WonkyWonderful
Serves 4

16 oz cold heavy cream
2 Tablespoon powdered sugar
1½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Melt chocolate chips in the microwave, stopping every 30 seconds to stir. Once the chocolate is melted, set aside to cool slightly.

Whip the heavy cream in your stand mixer using the whisk attachment until it thickens and peaks appear.

Add the powdered sugar and melted chocolate. Whip for another 30 seconds or until the mousse is thick and fully blended.

Transfer to serving dishes. Garnish with whipped cream or chocolate shavings. Serve and enjoy.

Note: the Mousse can also be refrigerated and served later.
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Thursday, June 12, 2014

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Spartan The F*ck Up with Joe De Sena

I've spent the past two weeks thinking about the things that I want to accomplish. My list includes mostly fitness things like finishing the Chicago Marathon with a huge smile and qualifying for Boston in the next 5-6 years. It also includes things like embracing myself more and exuding so much happiness and confidence that others around have no doubt about how comfortable I feel in my skin and in my life.

One of the fitness things I want to accomplish is starting and finishing a Spartan Race. I've taken the first step of signing up for one, the Chicago Super in September. I have friends who have run this and each of them has told me how life-changing and life-affirming the experience was for them. In my path to prep for Chicago, I dove into Joe De Sena's book, Spartan Up! If you can, read it. Now. It took me four hours to read the book and left me so excited about the Spartan lifestyle and inspired to take up the challenge of doing 30 burpees a day. There were two quotes that instantly struck me and haven't left me:

"Challenging yourself to accomplish more than you know you can is never stupid--it helps show you what you are capable of. It creates a new frame of reference, one you can draw upon in the face of other things that are perceived as being tough in your life. It shows you the possibilities you didn't know existed." (p. xix)

"Everyone has to suffer to put things in perspective, and bitching burns between zero and zero calories a minute, so there's no use in complaining about your hardships." (p. 180)

My life has had its share of challenges lately and, the more I think about those challenges, the more stressed out and frustrated I become. This book and those two quotes in particular reminded me of the importance of not being afraid to stop thinking and start doing. Thinking and talking about my problems gets me nowhere other than deeper in my problems. Doing something about them, changing my frame of reference, does the opposite and shows me that I am capable of overcoming life's obstacles and of looking back on those challenges and being able to smile ruefully.

To celebrate my signing up for my first Spartan Race and Spartan Up! here's an interview with insanely inspiring Joe De Sena. But first, a video:

What keeps you driven to lead an active lifestyle?
To be better than I was yesterday. My inspiration is in seeking inspiration from others that would wake up and take action in their lives. Isn’t it fun to watch movies where people work against all odds and get it done?

Where did the idea for the book, Spartan Up!, come from?
I have been writing it for 30 years, but now someone wants to listen :)

What is the most unique thing about Spartan Race?
We design our courses in a way that helps really push people up against the wall. That is the best place to be because it helps change your frame of reference. Once your frame of reference is changed life becomes easier. Spartan Race is more like the Special Forces or the Olympics. Others are more like going to a carnival and party.

As someone who is participating in the Chicago Super Spartan, what makes this particular location unique?
Its Chicago home of the deep dish pizza and worst mud in the universe...its brutal.

What has been your proudest athletic moment?
I would say it was the Ukatek in Northern Quebec because it was terrible and pushed me to the edge…I just liked to be pushed! The harder the better.

How is it that you hope to inspire others to lead healthier and more active lives?
Because at our core, we are meant to do this. We are animals and somewhere along the way we forgot. I want to inspire; there is nothing worse than an uninspired person in my mind. Let's get the world off the couch and pumped up to get stuff done in life!

Which obstacle is your favorite Spartan Race obstacle?
Yourself. If you can get your head to believe you can get anything done that is the key. We are all our own greatest obstacles.

What are your hopes for yourself and Spartan Race for the future?
To have Spartan Race in the Olympics!

What has been the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Be patient. It's a long game and listen to older people.

If a person was only able to read one chapter of your book, which chapter would you suggest they read and why?
The prologue so they get hooked :)

Thank you Joe De Sena for creating Spartan Race and for writing such an inspiring book. Can't wait to conquer Chicago! For more on the book or to purchase a copy, go here.

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Note: the book was given to me by Spartan Race but the opinions in this post are all my own. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

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Fuel Your Better: Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer Review

As a Sweat Pink Ambassador I was able to participate in Vega Sport's Fuel Your Better campaign and got to sample Vega Sport's Pre-Workout Energizer. I drink their protein shakes daily so I had high hopes for the Energizer and was curious if drinking something like this would make a difference in my runs.
I've been running long enough to know that I don't hit my stride and get comfortable in my run until mile three or so. This would be my gauge for how well the Energizer worked or if it impacted my workout at all. First, though, I had to actually drink the Energizer. I was sent the Lemon Lime flavor and, while it smelled good, I was not prepared for how it would taste. It wasn't the most horrible thing I've tasted, but it wasn't the greatest either. It's hard to describe how it tasted exactly, but it tasted really healthy and reminded me of the Isagenix cleanse liquid. I drank it as quickly as possible, hung out for 20-minutes, and then went on my run. That run ended up being a great run and I hit my stride quickly after the first mile and ended up running at my target pace. 
The second time I tried the Energizer, I did something different and that made a world of difference in the taste. When I first tried it, I simply put it in a cup with water and ice and stirred. The second time I put it in my Blender Bottle with water and ice and shook the crap out of it. The Energizer was cold and went down smooth. I still had to drink it in shot-like fashion, but I didn't think I was going to be unable to actually finish the 8-ounces like the first time around.

Over the course of two weeks I alternated which runs I drank the Energizer with and the Energizer runs were consistently the ones I felt really strong and hit my target pace. The runs without the Energizer were the ones I felt sluggish on and had trouble keeping a consistent and easy training pace.

Overall, I really enjoyed the box of Pre-Workout Energizer I was sent and was sad when I drank my last packet. The good thing about being able to sample this as part of the Fuel Your Better campaign is that now I have something else to add to my list of "Must-Have Fuel" as I train for all my races and, especially, the Chicago Marathon. Vega Sport and their products have changed the way I think about fueling in general so I recommend everyone to look into them to learn more about proper fueling.

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Note: the Pre-Workout Energizer was given to me as part of the Fuel Your Better campaign but the opinions in this post are all my own. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

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Twilight 5K Race Recap

Last weekend I ran what will probably be my last 5K in Miami, the Twilight 5K. All my races lately have been bittersweet because they are ran with amazing people but ran with lots of emotion because they are marking the end of something: last run with my running group, last run with my school friends, last run with the grandparents coming out and supporting Cati, it goes on and on.

I ran this race last year and it was my second race after my IT band injury. It was this race that made me believe that I could recover from my injury and actually run faster. Since my injury, though, I am enjoying the run more and the people I'm sharing those runs with. Don't get me wrong, I am still training to run faster and have big running dreams, but getting others into running and having fun while running are my priority. So running this race this year with my school friends (now colleagues!) meant so much more than getting a personal best. Signing Cati up for the kids' dash and seeing her really run and laugh was the true highlight of this race.

What I liked:

  • Night race that started at 7pm. 
  • Race shirts were gender specific and fit well. 
  • Smooth packet pickup. 
  • Course was nice (South Miami neighborhood).
  • Free beer. 
  • Rock climbing and bounce house for kids. 
  • Plenty of food for everyone to snack on before and after the race. 
  • The company. 
  • Watching Cati run and having the whole family out to support her. 
  • Cute kids medal. 
  • Announcement of all runners as they crossed the finish line. 

What I didn't like:
  • Just like last year, it was really hot and muggy. 
  • I like the shirt, but I want a medal!
Next race recap will be for my first trail half marathon on June 29th. Cannot wait!

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