Pardon my French braids.

About a year ago I set out to try to learn to French braid my own hair. When I ran high school cross country and track I loved when my team mates  would French braid my hair on our down time at invitationals. It was so comfortable & light, perfect for running – plus it made your action pictures look better than the normal tight bun or pony tail.

Without team mates I haven’t had my hair in French braids since. The last few years I’ve noticed the trend of wearing these as a normal fashionable hair-do – (outside of being 10 or under, or competing in sports.) To recreate what I saw seemed like learning another language, but I kept seeing so many cute braids and I wanted in!

I googled and googled, studied pictures and diagrams and started watching YouTube videos. One YouTube beauty star created two long beautiful French braids while saying she couldn’t figure this out and never believed would get the hang out of it – but sure enough with practice she became a pro. After exhausted arms, starting over and over, giving up, then trying again I thought she was full of sh*t. I couldn’t get past the beginning,  and I would end up sweating and frustrated.

I kept trying though! Eventually on my niece, who is perfectly content to sit still if she has a favorite movie on. I had a rough couple of starts, but finally something just clicked and once I got past the beginning I kept grabbing hair until I finished a full braid on her tiny head. I was so excited! It took more practice on my tiny model to figure it out on my own head. Now I have it down, and all my co-workers are always like “OMG love your hair, did you do that yourself?”

Yes. I. Did.

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I saw the braids combined as a bun and had to try, so fun.

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Thankful for my little model.

Wipe Out!

My work participated in a Wipe Out run. It was ridiculously fun! Best part was that one of the guys who was supposed to run didn’t show up, and M got to take his place and do it with us. I was a bit nervous about the obstacles, but they ended up being a blast, our entire 8 person team laughed the whole way through.

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M running through the wrecking balls. Only one of us made it all the way through this one.

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Love these 3 pictures in a row. You think a water slide would be fairly simple to go down…

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We finished!

26.2

30,000

Two years ago today I stood in Union Square on a cold and dark morning waiting for the Nike Women’s Marathon to begin. After 5 hours and 23 minutes of running the streets of San Francisco I crossed the finish line. It’s sounds very cliche to say that experience was so much more  than crossing the finish line, that it was all about the journey, but it was. With that being said, crossing the finish line was still the best part of the experience.  Even now, when I close my eyes and remember I can feel the surreal happiness of having completed a lifelong goal of mine.

The Nike Women’s Marathon is in partnership with Tiffany’s and gives the finishers a Tiffany’s necklace designed for each race. If you haven’t noticed I’m big on symbols, anniversaries, celebrations etc. The thought of getting a necklace to commemorate my first marathon told me this was the race for me. I signed up to run in 2008, but sold my bib because I was injured with IT band issues. In 2013 I started running again after spending most of 2012 hiking like a mad woman in training to hike Machu Picchu. I knew I was stronger. When I did my first 16 mile hike I thought – that was only 10 miles short of a marathon, and running is much faster than hiking!

I started running and was careful with my IT band. When it came time to sign up for the Marathon I realized it’s growing popularity made it so you have to enter a draw to get selected to run. I knew this was my year, I signed up and when they announced the runners I got an acceptance e-mail. Even more special was that this was it’s 10 year anniversary of the race, I was ecstatic. (No one knew this at the time, but 2013 ended up being the last year they offered the marathon, it is now only a half marathon race. I got to run the last Nike Women’s Marathon!!!)

This being a fall race, you train through summer. I hadn’t thought about what this would mean for me. I was working at a night club at the time, and the odd hours and late nights were not conducive to marathon training. Having gone to bed at 3 or 4 AM I couldn’t get up early and beat the sun for a long run. So I would try to sleep in, but couldn’t wait until evening to run as I had to be back at work. This meant running 10 or 13 miles in the middle of the 85+ degree weather. I still loved training. I wore a hat, had various belts and gadgets to carry water, energy bloks, music, sunblock and trained the best I could. I loved building up my miles. Before this, the longest I had ever run was 9 miles. I got to a point in my training when a 10 mile run was a “short run”.

About a month before the marathon due to my own fault, I didn’t run for about a week.I tried jumping  back into my training with the run that was scheduled for that day – a 10 mile run. Of course this was a horrible mistake, and at about mile 4 I got an excruciating pain on the side of my knee – my IT band. If you’ve never experienced this, imagine a sharp knife scraping your bone, tendons and tissue over and over. With IT band issues you want to avoid over training, or adding too much mileage at a time. I had done such a good job until this point, I was extremely disappointed in myself. I didn’t have time to sulk, I needed to still run this marathon.

I iced, stretched, rolled and went to a physical therapist. He broke up the scar tissue and massaged my IT band leaving a trail of bruises down my leg. I swam, used the elliptical and bike to keep up with my training until I had enough sessions with him to clear me to run. Every time I saw him it was so painful, I didn’t have insurance so I was paying out of pocket for each visit. That didn’t stop me, I was going to do whatever it took to get me to that starting line. I started carefully running again, and before I knew it – it was time to fly up north.

When I was in college in San Francisco, I remember it was virtually the same distance to travel from Oakland airport or San Francisco airport, so you just booked whatever airport had a cheaper flight when you were traveling. I had gotten a ticket to Oakland months before, and that week the Bart (the train system which I planned on taking into the city) went on strike. In a panic I reached out to a friend living in Oakland, for advice to get into the city, as I had to make it to pick up my race packet the evening before by a certain time. Her wife and her happened to have the day off and so graciously volunteered to pick me up and drop me off at my hotel. I couldn’t be more grateful, the traffic was horrible, since everyone was commuting from city to city – I can’t begin to imagine how much a cab (if I was even able to get one) would have cost me.

I checked into my hotel, got my race packet and found a little shop nearby to get some stuff for breakfast. I took a cab to Little Italy, found a cute little restaurant & ordered a big bowl of pasta with pink sauce. I was so nervous and excited, that I ate really fast.

I barely slept. I know now for the future to try to get sleep the two nights prior because the actual night before the race I just felt like I was floating. Not sure if I ever truly fell asleep, but next thing I knew it was 5AM and time for me to get ready. I arrived at the streets where my time group would be and checked in. 30,000 thousand people at the starting line felt unreal, it was still dark. As soon as the guns went off my excitement multiplied. The beginning was awesome (besides the bad part of waiting for everyone in front of you to start). There were so many spectators with great signs, yelling and cheering you on. After Union Square you turn into the financial district, where I used to work in the hectic busy environment of people rushing to work, cars honking and everyone in suits. It was surreal to run through those streets with no cars or anyone in sight besides the runners and people cheering us on. It felt apocalyptic.

Once we were running next to the piers, I again felt such a once in a lifetime feeling. Usually filled with cable cars and tourists headed to Pier 39 for Clam Chowder bowls, our feet were the only ones on those made-for-cars streets. All along there were plenty of porta-potties, water, energy drinks, energy bars, ETC. Our first hill came at about mile 6. I had kept a steady pace up until here, trying not to go too fast because of my excitement, and not letting other runners passing me deter me from a steady pace. This is hill is where it first paid off. People started dropping like flies, walking, or stopping all together as I steadily went up the hill. After the uphill came a downhill that brought me to the moment I feared the most. An excruciating pain on my right leg on my IT band. I stretched it hoping that would help, it didn’t. I had 20 miles to go, and my body was more than excited to keep going, but my leg was not on board. I went to the aid station nearby, and asked for them to wrap it & for some pain medicine.

This was the moment of truth. Apparently they don’t want you to overdose on pain medicine, they only let you have one and mark it on your bib so you don’t get more at another station. I wasn’t sure how much that or the wrapping of my leg would help – but as I ran back into the race I made up my mind that I wasn’t going to stop unless I literally collapsed to the ground and wasn’t able to get up. I told myself that all those watching my chip from their computers were not going to understand if it just stopped moving.  All of my work wasn’t going to end with me quitting at mile 6. I went into my mind and pulled the strongest parts of me I could find and just kept going.

After mile 8 or 9 there came a lot of dead parts in the run. I went through stretches of time without seeing or hearing anyone, music would have really helped. I played music in my head to get me through it, but I wish I hadn’t thought earphones were bad race etiquette and brought some music along.

Instead of music, I envisioned me finishing the marathon as I had so many times before. For weeks leading up to the race I would close my eyes and see myself on the carefully studied course and see myself at every mile. I was now doing this while running it. It was surreal. Inception-ish. Time moved so quickly, I thought about everyone I loved. I thought about my friend who made shirts for me and our friends to wear at work the night before I left, my Mom who was cheering me on from home with my niece and next thing I knew I was at mile 20.

I never hit a wall everyone talks about. My leg hurt the entire time, and I was so cold. I ran in my favorite running shorts and black running tank top which I had practiced many runs in. Having lived in San Francisco you think I would have known better, but I thought I would warm up & I hate running with leggings or long sleeve shirts once I’m hot. I never got warm, and the fog never burned up. The pain on my leg was excruciating but the cold sometimes trumped it. My sweat would turn to cold and rest on my body, making me shiver constantly. I never hit a wall – but I came to the biggest disappointment in my race at mile 20. It turned into a “there and back run.” I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. In the course map you see that in the end you turn and go back in the same direction, but it looks as though it is a few blocks away – making it so you don’t run in the same area more than once. I was wrong. You  are literally running down the street and separated by only tied up string you are seeing other runners running the other direction towards the finish line.

This was painful for me. It baffled me how $200 race could be ok with creating a course that has you run “there and back” for 6 miles. Did you guys run out of space? Really? I kept searching for someone who I had seen ahead of me to come around the other way towards me, but they seemed to never return. These last 6 miles were in slow motion. I couldn’t wait to turn and head towards the finish line, but every time I saw a new sign it seemed as though I hadn’t covered much distance. The first 20 miles seemed like nothing compared to the last 6.

I finally saw the end. A mile left to go, and on the street next to the beach. (My favorite place) I was thrilled to be away from runners going the opposite direction of me. This last mile was like a war zone, the way it had been at the first hill, people yelling at other people to not quit, people crying, people breathing hard, people being picked up in stretchers and into ambulances. I was picking people off one by one, little by little – the same pace and determination from the starting line – I was coasting. I saw the red carpet and sprinted the end – I heard my name seconds before crossing the line – my friend whose wife picked me up the day prior awaited my finale.

I was smiling uncontrollably. I felt 20 lbs lighter, and as I walked the red carpet (yes a red carpet finish, haha) I started scanning for that Tiffany’s necklace. Fire fighters dressed in tuxes held the small boxes in silver platers (seriously), I received mine and held it in disbelief.

My life goal of running a marathon from start to finish without stopping was complete and it was all I had hoped it would be.

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next day

Whatever I’m Getting Cheese Fries – My 22 Day Revolution Comes to an End.

I lost 12lbs total!

I don’t mean to sound cheesy, but the diet was so much more than just weight loss. I feel so healthy, and energized. M did the diet as well and we were both surprised we weren’t craving anything unhealthy once we finished, as expected. I ate meat on the last week, and still felt good having it be one time, rather than for 2 or 3 meals a day.

The experience was so wonderful, I’ve already continued to eat many of the same recipes, since they are so good and so simple!

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Like this “ceviche” with hearts of palm, cucumber, carrots etc. The recipe called for seeded Jalapenos, but liking things on the spicier side, we used serranos with the seeds inside. This was delicious, tangy and refreshing!

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This was my favorite salad in the entire book. It was placed like this for the photo-op (similar to how it is in the book). After the photo shoot I mixed it in a bowl with the balsamic and Dijon mustard dressing and ate every flavorful and filling bite. Just had this again for lunch yesterday. It is seriously delicious.

I couldn’t get a good picture, but there is a sandwich that made me move past my love for mayonnaise. I’ve heard people use hummus as a healthy alternative for mayo. I’ve never seen the point, I want the real thing. I’ve always saved hummus for pita bread or carrots. However, vegan bread, with hummus, avocado, spinach and tomatoes (plus crushed red pepper) is one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. The smoothness and tanginess of the hummus is so good in a sandwich! I can’t believe I didn’t try this sooner.

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I’m so happy to have tried this out, I love that I didn’t have to sit and count calories, that it wasn’t anti carbs – but instead focused on healthy carbs, healthy oats/grains, healthy bread – but mostly just fresh vegetables with a lot of nutrients. What a great experience & all over change, no bloating, zero stomachaches, on and on.

My goal now is to lose about 4 – 6 more lbs, and turn this experience into an ongoing revolution.

Week Two Done – My 22 Day Revolution.

“I really wanna lose 3 pounds” – Regina George

Today is day 15! I completed two full weeks. I lost another 2 pounds – putting me at 10 pounds total.

I wish I lost more, but in general I  feel healthier. I took advantage of the 2 desserts you are allowed to have during the 22 days, this week. I also went out to eat more this week than the first week to celebrate a birthday! If I hadn’t indulged I probably would have lost a few more.

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My favorite thing from this diet is that it’s not a low carb or anti carb diet. Some recipes call for vegan bread (I mostly use Ezekiel which tastes great!), and you get to eat healthy grains. My second favorite thing about this diet are new food combinations I wouldn’t have tried on my own – like this cauliflower and grape salad. Grilled in the oven with pine nuts and lemon, the taste is fantastic. This was lunch one of the days, I would prefer it as a side dish with something else, but it is delicious.

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Who knew vegan sushi places existed? Not me. The book calls for a vegan sushi roll for lunch a couple of times. Brown rice, nori and vegetables. Although pretty tasty, my rolling skills are not great and mine looked like a messy Japanese burrito. For M’s birthday we still wanted to go out to eat, and he found this place in Little Tokyo LA (Shojin) that serves vegan sushi and vegan ramen. It was DELICIOUS. The rolls we had were perfect, flavorful and filling.

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Vegan pizza. Does not sound appetizing, I know. The book calls for making homemade pizza a couple of times. I haven’t done either day because I had left overs from a previous lunch. Some of the recipes are 2 – 4 servings, so you end up having left overs which is nice to save time cooking every day. Since we were on vacation when the pizza lunch came up again we decided to try it from a pizza place. MOD pizza, one of those build your own pizza type of places offers a gluten free crust and dairy free cheese at no extra charge. I would have never considered this – but went for it. The cheese actually melts! It was so delicious.

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Dessert. The book says you can have 2 desserts from their recipes (home made). They should probably be spread out, and not right after the other.The desserts I had were not home made and I ate them right after the other, but I stuck with vegan and loved every bite. Pictured above is vegan (coconut milk) “ice cream” which we sandwiched in vegan peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. YUM.

A week and a day more to go!

Is Butter a Carb? My 22 Day Revolution: Week 1 Update!

Today is day 8! I finished a full 7 day week!

I’ve lost 8 pounds!

Most of the days I have felt great, but there were two days that I was just so hungry. The one thing I am having trouble with is the 3 meals only, no snacks rule. I’ve been working out almost every single day, and this just doesn’t seem to be a good idea. The book says if you need to you can have one snack every other day. I decided to play each day by ear, and if I am really hungry at the end of work, before I go home and work out; I can eat a vegetable snack or a plant based protein powder drink. I’ve done this twice and felt good about it!

These two salads have been my favorite dinners so far:

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Artichoke & avocado salad with olives, and tomatoes. So refreshing with the hot weather right now, and so filling!

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RAW zucchini and cucumber salad with tahini, carrots, sesame seeds and lime! I was so NOT excited about eating raw zucchini, but this came out great. With a spiral vegetable slicer you can make pasta out of any vegetable (or your boyfriend can).

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This meal was the first test to my commitment to this diet. Our new marketing coordinator asked me and another co-worker to lunch. I was terrified that I would have to scarf something down before lunch time, then sit with them drinking iced tea starring at their food. However, as it often happens I was asked to pick the place – so I suggested we eat at Urban Plates since I knew they had plant based vegan options. (Urban plates is not vegan but it is a cafeteria style restaurant with proteins, sides, soups, sandwiches and salads). This plate is called a “4-Up” you get 4 sides for $10, and these 4 things were all vegan!

So far so good, I feel healthy! 15 more days to go – I hope I lose another 15 pounds.

My 22 Day Revolution

I’m not trying to pull a Mindy Kaling by trying all these popular diets & juice cleanses (a la Whole 30), but I started the 22 Day Revolution yesterday. I was a vegetarian for 7 years. 6 years ago I started eating meat again. I still eat a lot of vegetarian food, and consider myself healthy in the way that I enjoy eating vegetables, drinking water or juicing without anyone forcing me to.

I remember the first year I started eating meat I thought I got a pass on the amount I could eat (aka all you can eat Korean BBQ) because it had been so long since I had any. This was probably true then, but not true now 6 years later. I’ve been toying with the idea of eating less meat simply because I feel I eat too much of it.

My original reasoning behind being a vegetarian was strictly political – a stand against American factory farming and animal cruelty. I haven’t forgotten that, but when I think about not eating meat now a lot of it revolves around health. With the big (and positive) wave of fighting GMO’s and shopping organic trend the last couple of years I have done my best to only eat the BEST quality meat. Organic, grass fed, etc.

I’ve been trying to lose weight, and get more vitamin D although my sunlight hours are now limited to a desk job. I’ve tried eating paleo, or smaller portions but nothing has worked yet. Apparently my cholesterol is a little high, so I’ve been trying to cut down on meat. At the airport on my recent trip to San Francisco I was browsing the internet and saw “the plant based diet Beyonce used to lose weight.”

I’m not an advocate for crash diets, and didn’t jump on the lemonade diet, or only bacon diet because I knew better. However I’ve never wanted to lose weight before. Perhaps my metabolism has come to a screeching halt the way many told me would the day I turned 30. Not sure. Reading about this diet, came at the time I wanted to try to cut out meat anyway. So I jumped on the bandwagon full speed and ordered the book on Amazon (which was sold out by the way, so I had to wait a week).

The rules are basic:

22 Days (June 23rd – July 15th)

3 meals a day (no snacks, no alcohol)

Workout every day

Eat only plant based.

The book has recipes for all 22 days, breakfast, lunch and dinner that you are supposed to follow.

I honestly thought I was going to be starving. I am used to eating a snack in between each meal. However I was so surprised by how filling the recipes have been so far, and how less stressed I am figuring out what to eat. I also thought that having access to such great grocery stores, specialty stores and vegan/ vegetarian eateries that no recipe would really impress me.

I’ve only finished one day so far, but the dinner yesterday was so good. When I was preparing it, I thought I skipped the step that explained how to cook it. I re-read it until I realized that the entire meal was raw. I was petrified. Vegan AND raw? However once I tried it I was so happy. So flavorful, delicious and filling. I’m excited for the next 21 days.

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Breakfast from day 1 was oatmeal cooked with almond milk, with a banana and blueberries.

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Raw walnut tacos were incredible!