"Winning has nothing to do with racing. Most days don't have races anyway. Winning is about struggle and effort and optimism, and never, ever, ever giving up."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Too Much Fun Experimenting

The great thing about this Engine 2 Challenge is that I am trying things I never would have imagined cooking/eating.  I spend my lunch break browsing the internet searching for new recipes to try.  I've found some great ones!  Here are some pictures of recent recipes:

 This is the green lentil soup with turnips, carrots, celery, and diced tomatoes.  We enjoyed this soup with Aileen, while laughing over episodes of The Big Bang Theory

Dehydrated plantains with sea salt.  I bought plantains from Trader Joe's a while back, and wanted to see if I could make my own--turns out, I can!  And they're so good when I need a crunch!

Stuffed acorn squash with quinoa and black beans.  This was dinner tonight, and it was awesome!  This was my first experience with acorn squash.  To be honest, I can't really taste the difference between acorn squash and butternut squash-I like them both!

In the oven, honey roasted "nuts" aka chickpeas.  Stay tuned!

PS-with all this talk about food, I haven't mentioned training much.  I'm still running 63-70 miles a week, promise :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Week 2: Day 8

Jeremy and I made it through our first week on the E2 Challenge!  It will filled with creative recipes, and sometimes modge podge recipes, depending on how the fridge was stocked.

I am pleased to acknolwedge that it has not been nearly as difficult as I had imagined.  I was very concerned about sweet cravings, snacking, and simply being hungry.  I have noticed so many positive benefits to eating plant based, and it's only been 1 week.  Both Jeremy and I admitted to having more energy, which is great!  I have woken up feeling alert and refreshed!  When I start to crave sweet things, which still happens, I satisfy it with raisins or figs.  It is working, and I haven't strayed.  No meat, no dairy, no eggs, no oil.  But plenty of fruits, veggies, brown rice, and beans.  Lots and lots of beans!  Black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans,  and other multi-colored beans.

This week I made stuffed squash, see below:
Stuffed with brown rice, black beans, yellow peppers, and onions.  It was quite tasty, and extremely filling!  Jeremy even gave it a whirl.  As much as I wish he was, he is not a fan of squash, BUT, he did try it.  And he definitely ate everything but the squash.  I'm proud of his efforts, and beyond grateful for his partnership in this journey!

On Saturday, I was supposed to have a couple girlfriends over for a plant-strong "bring an item" dinner.  However, one of my girlfriends got sick, which meant it was my buddy Aileen, Jeremy, and myself.  We had "Cheesy" Kale chips (because obviously there wasn't any cheese on the kale chips), carrots and hummus and lentil dip, green lentil soup (which was fabulous), and cinnabon smoothies for dessert.  The lentil soup was much more satisfying than I had anticipated.  It was so good!  The best part is, everybody liked it! 

Having been gluten-free for years now, I am embarrased to mention that I have never tried quinoa.  Well, let me back up.  I've tried quinoa flakes, but that's it.  After 3 stops, I finally found quinoa, and am looking forward to trying it this week.

I am loving the energy I have from this eating lifestyle.  Not only do I have more energy, but I also feel better rested.  I have been waking up thinking, "I'm ready to be up!"  As opposed to my, "Is it really 4:15AM?!  Why do I do this?!"  I also started reading a book called Thrive.  It is about plant-based eating and optimal endurance sport performance.  It is so intruiging and inspiring to learn how endurance athletes not only survive, but THRIVE on a plant-based diet.

I also found a vegan restaurant in Minneapolis that I'd like to try--The Ecopolitan.  Has anyone been there?  They look like they are very good with gluten-free requests too!

Happy eating!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Taking My Mind Off this Weather

Today was the coldest day (windchill) that I remember--in my lifetime!

Are you reading that?  -32 windchill. 

Needless to say, the past three days I have been huffing it on the treadmill.  Back to back to back, 12 milers, on the treadmill.  Let me be honest, I'd rather be outside anyday; however, given the circumstances, the treadmill has not been as horrific as I had imagined.

I'm on day 4 of the Engine 2 diet.  Too be honest, I am amazed at how well my body is doing!  I was nervous about a few things.  One, I was concerned about my protein intake, that it might be too low.  That has not been an issue!  I'm eating plenty of brown rice and beans (black beans, garbanzo beans).  My energy levels have been great.  I have not been hitting the afternoon slum like I thought I would.  I have energy, I feel satisfied, and I am impressed with how my body is responding.  Second, I was concerned about my sweet tooth.  I often get cravings to sweet treats.  I'm talking chocolatey goodness (which is obviously not E2 approved).  I have not really had any bad cravings.  Whenever I feel the need for something sweet, I munch on no sugar added/no oil added raisins and that seems to do the trick.  For a pre-run snack, I've been consuming dried figs--so good and a great energy boost!

Between the cold weather, and a new way of eating, Jeremy and I have been tackling one of our New Year's resolutions--to cook together and try new things!  It has been fun to look through my new cookbook (Everyday Happy Herbivore), and find new recipes to make.  Jeremy has been quite the champ, and so willing to cook alongside me.  It has been quite the adventure.  I've also made some great snacks.  I made kale chips this week, take a look:
They were called "Cheesy Kale Chips", however, they don't involved cheese, since that's not E2 approved.  They are absolutely fantastic!  They sell these vegan friendly treats at Whole Foods, but they are so pricy!  This is a cheap way to enjoy such a wonderful snack!!!

Breakfast yesterday was also quite scrumptious.  Nothing fancy, but peanut butter and sliced bananas atop brown rice cakes seems pretty fabulous:

Yes, I prepared my breakfast at work on my notes-don't judge ;)

My lunch salads have been terrific as well.  Rather than simply adding veggies to my salad, I've been adding garbanzo and black beans for added protein:

These salads have created a party in my mouth!  Seriously.

Not only have I been exploring with new foods, meals, snacks, etc., but I am feeling refreshed.  I'm not as tired, and I have a lot of support from great friends.  Between Shannon, Deanna, Aileen, and of course Jeremy, I have people to turn to when the going gets tough (which it hasn't gotten tough yet), but I know I have support for when I'm feeling weak.  It's encouraging to have people in my life who support a healthy lifestyle, and don't judge to look down upon this new lifestyle I am exploring.  Sometimes I worry that stress or emotions might derail this effort, but it hasn't so far.  We received some pretty tough family news last night about Jeremy's brother.  He's having major surgery today.  That fueled my run this morning and gave me 90 minutes of solid prayer time for him.  I am encouraged by Jesus' words: "Then Jesus told his disciples...that they should always pray and not give up" (Luke 18:1).  So I will pray, and I will not give up.  I know that my God is near to those who call on His name.  He is the Great Healer, the Living God, the Lord Almighty, my Rock, my Redeemer, my portion.  I do not have to be afraid, and will continue to proclaim His goodness because I know that He is able to do imagineably more than I could ever imagine.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Day 2: You Are Not Your Own

It's lunch time on Day 2, and I spent my lunch break drooling over healthy recipes that I plan to make over the next few weeks (such as mashed cauliflower, kale chips, stuffed winter squash, etc).  Then I received this text from Jeremy showing me his lunch, see below:

(Corn tortillas with brown rice, black beans, red peppers, onions, black beans, and Chipotle Cholua hot sauce)-->Well done babe!  See, eating healthy can be incredibly tasteful.  He has one up on me, given he can go home for lunch and actually cook.  Even still, leftovers seem to be working just fine for me.

I also spent a portion of my lunch break reading the article (see link below), on Paula Deen.  She was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes three years ago; however, she's been hiding it from the public, until now, when she revealed it on the Today Show. 
What is more sad about this diagnosis is that she makes no plans to change.  She has acknowledged a severe health problem, yet refuses to change her eating patterns.  It is disappointing that a spotlight figure has an opportunity to take a stand, and be a leader in the cooking world, yet refuses to do so.  Rather than promoting healthy meals, she is promoting drugs as a solution to the greater problem she is wrestling with.  While no one food has been contributed to the cause of diabetes, one factor has, and that is obesity.  And obesity can be controlled, halted, and reversed by nutrition.  We see season after season on The Biggest Loser, contestants reversing their diabetes through their nutrition/weight loss.  They are set free from insulin shots/pump.  This is one more reason that has fueled my fire for the plant-based diet.  If I have an opportunity to positively impact my health, long-term, and halt genetically passed health conditions, why would I not jump on that bandwagon?
Many of you know that I am incredibly passionate about a healthy, holistic lifestyle.  For me it is an act of worship.  I believe strongly, that taking care of our bodies honors God.  In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul says,
"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies."

Our bodies do not belong to us.  We are not our own.  When you borrow something from someone, you don't treat that item like trash, and return the item back to the owner in worse condition, do you?  Most of us would agree, when we borrow something from someone, we do our very best to return that item in its same condition.  Why would we not do the very same thing with our bodies?  Why not take as best care of our bodies as we can, until we go to meet our Maker?  Our bodies are not our own.  We were bought at a price, and that bill of sale is the cross of Jesus Christ.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Engine 2 Diet: Day 1

I mentioned last week I would commit to blogging more frequently.  I'd like to say that I will blog every day for the next 28 days, but I'm not going to promise that.  Today marks the first day of the Engine 2 Challenge.  I am participating in this challenge with Jeremy, my co-workers Shannon and Deanna, and a group from Whole Foods in St. Paul.  The Engine 2 Diet is based on the research provided from The China Study, and further research from Dr. Esselstyn suggesting the positive impact of a plant based diet.  At first I was skeptical as to whether I could get enough protein, as an athlete, from plants!  However, after doing more research I've learned I can get enough protein to fuel my body through plants, beans, and whole grains.  We watched the movie Forks Over Knives, and were blown away by the research showing proof that a plant based diet can actually reverse heart disease, certain types of cancer, and diabetes!  I was also shocked to learn that the U.S. is the number one consumer of milk, yet we have the highest rate of osteoporosis and bone fractures, suggesting that milk is not keeping our bones strong like we originally believed. 

So for the next 28 days, Jeremy, Deanna, Shannon, and I have committed to eating only vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains (oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, etc).  No meat, dairy, eggs, or oil.  If we notice a positive difference in how we feel, Jeremy and I may commit to a similar lifestyle going forward.  But for right now, let's take it one day at a time.

We spent most of today traveling, so eating was tough, but we did it.  Here was our dinner tonight:
Salad with cucumbers, onions, peppers, black beans, mango salsa, and nutritional yeast

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Miles and Miles...Because I Care-RUN:FREE

It is clear that I am not good at blogging faithfully; however, that is about to change, starting next week.  There is much to update, so this post will most likely be a conglomeration on things I want to catch up on related to this blog.  Much of this blog has been about running, and how I find Jesus, and more of myself through running. 

I have continued to log high volume weeks of running, week after week.  I usually end up running 60+ mile weeks.  I was able to end the year with my highest mileage week ever: 70 miles!!!  See log below.

I ended 2011 with 2,316 total miles run!!!  This was the first year I logged my miles in a book, so I can't compare it to any other year, but I'm pretty sure it's a record year for me.  What is more amazing is that I took 9 weeks off (when I had my stress fracture), and was still able to do that many miles.  And while most people ran on January 1st, starting their New Year's Resolutions, or simply trying to start their year off right, I said, "Whatever, I just ran 70 miles, I'm not doing anything!"

People have continued to ask my why I'm logging so many miles.  They often ask, "what race are you training for?"  I'm not training for a race.  Well, technically I'm running the Fargo Marathon in May.  And while I'm hoping to set a new PR at the flat and fast Fargo Marathon, I'm training for something greater.  I'm taking on a challenge that is bigger than me.  When I think about it, my stomach knots up, wondering if I'm capable of accomplishing what I'm setting out to do.

This is where it get's crazy.......
This summer (last week of June, through the first week of July), I will be running across the state of Minnesota.  Call me crazy, because really, it is.  I will be starting in Watertown, SD, and running eastward, ending near Prescott, WI, totaling over 200 miles, in two weeks.  Why?  Why am I doing this?  I am doing this because all over the world (including the U.S.--we are NOT exempt), women and children are illegally being bought and sold into sex slavery, everyday.  The largest number of women sent to Las Vegas, and forced into sex slavery in the United States, come from my backyard, Minneapolis. There are more human slaves today, than when slavery was legal. Rather than running miles and miles because I love running, I have the opportunity to run for the joy of helping those affected by human trafficking.  There is an organization in China call Eden Ministries, which provides support to women who have been rescued and delivered from human trafficking.  They provide resources and an opportunity for a new life.  They teach women a trade, such as weaving, jewelry making, etc, so they may become self-sustaining women, and not have to return to their former life.  I can run.  And I want to make a difference.

I am running through an organization called Venture Expeditions, which is a non-profit organization that provides an opportunity to raise awareness and funds that benefit social justice causes, and make a difference in the world.  You can see the kind of miles I'll be running through this link:  http://www.ventureexpeditions.org/page/runfree-1 
If you would like to join me on this run, I would LOVE it!!!

If you are interested in supporting me in this journey, here's how you can help.  First, you can be praying.  Pray for the people who are affected by human trafficking.  Pray for the offenders who are running the sex trafficking business.  Pray for me, that I would remain healthy, strong, and smart as I embark on this journey.  Second, you can donate money!  100% of the donations will be going to Eden Ministries to help these women.  You can donate here: https://ventureexpeditions.missionsconnex.com/BreeWilliamson
Third, you can spread the word.  The more we can make people aware, the greater chance we have at putting an end to human trafficking.  And fourth, if you'd like to buy me a pair of running shoes, hey, I wouldn't turn them down, as I'm going through a pair every two months! ;)