Sunday, October 23, 2011

Wellness and Illness

First off, I am feeling so much better!!

When I was in high school and I would catch a cold it would take my body at least a week to fight off the virus. Now, it takes about twenty four hours. Yes, one day. And, during that one day I'm usually not even that bad! If I got a cold in high school I really needed to take the day off an stay in bed all day (although that NEVER happened because I'm far too anal about *perfect* attendance) but now I maintain my daily routine regardless of a cold.
HS-junior year-I actually had mono in this picture!

Why is this? I've been thinking about the difference in my lifestyle from high school to now. I've always been a pretty healthy chick. I first joined a gym when I was 14 and did sports forever. I ran track and cross country in high school and college and have been a runner + weight lifter for, omg, almost ten years! A healthy diet has always been important to me but in high school I simply did not yet understand what it meant to be healthy. While I thought I was eating to be healthy, I was really eating to be skinny.

Back then, for breakfast I'd have coffee with skim milk and some kind of protein bar (either Special K or those dreaded awful Atkins bars) then as a snack I'd have a diet coke and Dannon light yogurt (those lil 80 calorie cups). I ALWAYS packed my own lunch which was usually always chicken breast, some kind of light cheese, pesto and spinach wrapped up in a whole wheat wrap (though I usually picked off about half the wrap). Sometimes I kept a box of Fiber One cereal in my locker to snack on and afternoon snacks typically consists of mixed nuts or fruit or both. I thought I was healthy because I defined "health" in terms of comparissions to the lifestyles of my peers and information I obtained from the one general nutrition class I took. A lot of my friends did not work out, did not play a sport, bought lunch which consisted of a plate of fries with ketchup and mayo, a bagel with cream cheese or a muffin. They loaded their coffee with sugar and TONS of half and half (I'm talking a cup of cream with a splash of coffee). I drank my coffee with splenda and splash of skim, drank only diet soda, stringently watched my carbs, made sure it was ALWAYS whole wheat, obsessively made sure there was fiber in whatever I ate (always snacked on those flavored fiber chews) and ate salads like they were going out of style.
father daughter dance senior year :)

So, was I healthy in high school? Yes and no. Sure what I was eating was nutritious, but I really wasn't eating "healthy". I cared about fiber and calories more than anything. Protein? What was that? I definitely was not eating to fuel the workouts I was doing. Track practice was hardcore and lasted two hours a day and after practice I hit some weights or did a pilates class. There was no need for me to "watch my carbs". Plus, I focued on trying to eat as little calories as possible and often went on "fasting diet". Around prom season I attempted the "gum-water-and-diet-coke-diet". Not healthy. So basically, I was starving and overtraining. NO WONDER it took my body nearly TWO WEEKS to battle a cold!!!!!!!!! Plus-I got sick ALL THE TIME!!!!!!!! Whenever a virus was going around, this girl ALWAYS caught it!
sweet 16! was actually sick during my party!

Now, I eat a balanced diet that includes TONS of veggies, fruits, some whole grains and plenty of lean protein like chicken breast and egg whites. I also eat lots of healthy fats like cacao, coconut, nuts, peanut butter and olive oil (and I love it all...LOVE fats). My workouts last around 45 minutes to an hour and they include a balance of strength, power and cardio. The only thing I really need to work on is remembering to stretch. Keeping this balance fuels my body AND my immune system properly. Basically, I'm giving it *just* what it needs to function at its best. So, when I catch a cold (which, thankfully, RARELY happens) it's a minor discomfort that doesn't really slow me down and my body is able to fight it right off.

But, I forgot to mention the MOST IMPORTANT difference between my lifestyle now and in high school:

my guys are the perfect models for sleeping..

SLEEP is way too commonly overlooked but it is the KEYYY to a balanced and healthy life!!! In high school I was lucky if i slept for four hours a night! I was a TOTAL night owl!! I could stay out all night long, and on school nights I stayed up all hours of the night either cramming or talking on the phone. Then I'd wake up at 6am (some days earlier because I always had morning detention). On Sundays I would "catch up" on my sleep for the week and sleep in till way passed noon. Now, how healthy is that? Now, I MAKE SURE to get AT LEAST 7 and a half hours of sleep a night!! I almost always get my full 8 hours, only rarely do I get 7 1/2. Sleep is a HUGE priority for me. Even if I'm not tired, if it's time for bed I pop a melatonin and go lay down. To keep my circadian rythym balanced I don't sleep in much later on the days that I don't have to wake up. It's about a thirty to forty minute difference. When you sleep your body RECOVERS. How can you battle a cold if you're not sleeping?!

So since I woke up yesterday feeling vibrant and refreshed I went out and completed my nine mile training run! It was a bit cooler this week but that worked in my favor because it speeded me up a bit. My run was ten minutes shorter this week! My legs feel fine today, only a little bit tight so I'm going to roll them out a bit on the foam roller.

Dan, however, was feelin' my same peppiness. He was a little under the weather last night so we decided to stay in and cook dinner. After pondering recipe ideas I decided I wanted to try Mousakka (it always reminds me of the Lion King...Mufasaaaaa). I loosely followed a recipe from Cooking Light. When I say "loosely followed" I mean not at all because their recipe was a vegetarian bulgur Mousakka topped with some butter-y, flour-y, cheese-y sauce goo and mine was loaded was beef and sprinkled with vegan cheese.

Dan was impressed and we both gobbled it up (seriously, half of it-GONE) so I say success!

Meaty Mousakka
  • 3 eggplant
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 Vidalia onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 packages extra lean 96% ground sirloin
  • 1 can no salt added diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup mozeralla flavored Daiya cheese
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 TBSP oregano
First, preheat your broiler to high. Slice the eggplant into half inch thick rounds and line on a sprayed baking sheet. Pop them in the broiler for 5 minutes, flip and broil 5 minutes on the other side. Get 'em nice and brown & crispy. Put them aside. While the eggplant is broiling chop up the onion and garlic and heat the tbsp of olive oil in a deep sautee pan. Sautee the garlic and onion for about 10 minutes then add your ground beef. Brown the meat a little then add in the spices. Continue until the meat is mostly browned then add chicken broth and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, stirring until the meat is about done. In a casserole dish, line the bottom with half the eggplant. Spoon meat mixture over the eggplant (I used a slotted spoon and left the remaining liquid in the sautee pan). Top the meat mix with the remaining eggplant. Top the eggplant with cheese and bake at 350 for 20 minutes, then at 400 for another few minutes.

Since the recipe called for bulgur wheat the cooking times were all off so improvised. I thought I might've cooked everything too long and the meat would be dry but it actually came out perfect! We paired the Mousakka with a side of brussels sprouts, 'cuz I just like having a lil something green with every meal :)

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