Meditation

Concentration. Joy. Relaxation.

Scientific studies support dozens of health benefits from meditation: improved concentration and sleep, reduced stress and feelings of calm, compassion, peace, and joy. There’s a broad variety of practices and techniques for meditation making it accessible to everyone. Many of the techniques do not involve sitting. Walking, washing dishes, painting, Ti Chi and QiGong are all forms of moving meditation. As a triathlete, running on a trail, swimming and biking often is my vehicle for meditation.

Anyone who’s completed an Ironman or century ride knows what it’s like to be inside your own head for up to 8 hours on a bike. Sometimes my inner voice is preoccupied, solving something going on in my life; other times I’m simply talking myself through a tough workout. When I’m able to quiet the inner voice, remaining focused and achieve calmness, are the moments cycling becomes meditative for me.  I’m aware of my breath. I see the road or trails well. When I’m running on the trails I hear the water, my foot steps and the wind but without judgment. I simply notice. I don’t have negative thoughts about how much further I need to go. It’s the moment when a meticulously defined swim workout becomes blissful gliding through the water. It no longer feels like an agenda. It’s joyful and rejuvenating.

I had the pleasure of exploring and collecting  evidence-based research on the benefits of yoga and meditation with my fellow yogis in our teacher training with Jenn Prugh. If you’re new to meditation, the biggest take-away is that there is evidence that even a beginner can realize immediate benefits to practicing meditation.

 

Yoga for Athletes

As a teacher, I integrate a sports background to create a flow-based yoga-asana practice, rooted in traditional yoga and focused on balance, strength and flexibility.

Whether you’re an ardent athlete or business professional sitting at the desk, on a plane, or in a car; whether you’re a seasoned yogi or new student, I invite you to make yoga a part of your balanced training regiment or healthy lifestyle.

Please connect with me here: CONTACT to discuss post-run or post-bike yoga, restorative yoga for recovery, training weekend retreats and your really loose hip flexors.

Yoga Fundraiser to Support Sonoma County, Monday Oct 30th 7:30 pm

Join me in a Yoga for Athlete’s night in support of the Sonoma County community where over 100,000 people were displaced following the firestorm that ravaged there just over a week ago. The Yoga and Cardio Dance studio in San Jose has generously donated their space for this special event.

The practice offered will be “Yoga for Athletes” from 7:30 pm – 8:45 pm.

NOTE: This class is suitable for both ATHLETES and NON-ATHLETES, NEW STUDENTS and SEASONED YOGIS. 

This class is FREE in exchange for a cash or check donation. All donations will support the SONOMA COUNTY RESILIENCE FUND

Please join me in supporting the well-being of the Sonoma County community. SPACE IS LIMITED so please RSVP HERE

 

Yoga for Everyone

Strength. Balance. Flexibility. All you need is your body and your breath.

At any age, shape and range of motion, you can find a yoga practice that will compliment your needs. Whatever style you practice, yoga trains the mind to withdraw from internal and external distractions. It clears the path for self observance. It invites you to become aware of your true self.

Learn more about the teachings I offer here: SERVICES

Connect with me here: CONTACT to explore how I can help you find a practice to compliment your mind and body.

I am RYT200 certified through the Joy of Yoga School and am currently enrolled in the 500 hour program with Jennifer Prugh.

I have training in yoga for children, am a step-mom to four children, have a B.S. in accounting and draw upon nearly 20 years of corporate experience in the combined areas of professional services and human resources. These experiences help me to connect with a broad audience, from children and parents, to professionals.

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Meyer Lemon & Blueberry Yogurt Pancakes

Through the chill in the air and dark winter season, sweet fruits are bursting on trees in Northern California. Bright, round and juicy, lemons and oranges poke through the trees like a ray of sunlight during our rainy season. Citrus are in abundance, everywhere …

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… except at my house. If you look hard, you might be able to find the second orange. So far our total year-to-date yield are 5 oranges. [Sigh.]

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We are working on solving this issue. Until then we have generous neighbors who share their fruits and I was able to pick up ten juicy Meyer lemons, for a couple of dollars at a local market.

Meyer lemons are mostly grown in California backyards. Sweet, fragrant and less acidic than other lemons, Meyer lemons are wonderful to cook with and my favorite lemon. With ten lemons in hand, I’d better get started!

After an ultra-distance equivalent of rainfall, we finally saw the sun break through. I celebrated with bright and cheerful Meyer Lemon & Blueberry Yogurt Pancakes. Made without sugar, these pancakes are naturally sweetened by the lemons and fresh blueberries. You may insist on topping them with maple syrup or powdered sugar, but try them without first. I enjoyed them naked.

Serving size: 2 (about 6 pancakes)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice (about 1 big juicy lemon)
  • zest of one whole Meyer lemon
  • 3/4 cup of fresh blueberries
  • 1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

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In another small bowl, whisk the egg lightly, then stir in yogurt and milk until combined.

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Then add the flour mixture until just combined. The batter may appear a little lumpy. This is perfectly fine. You should avoid over-mixing.

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Stir in lemon juice, lemon zest* and blueberries.

* You may want to reserve a bit of the zest or zest another Meyer lemon to use as garnish. I recommend this if using whole wheat flour instead of white flour. You may find that the whole wheat flour flavor overshadows the delicate Meyer lemon flavor.

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Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 to 1 tablespoons of butter. The skillet is hot enough for the batter when drops of water sizzles immediately upon contact.

Using a ladle or big spoon, add the batter. Depending on the size of your spoon, you may need to add another spoonful or two. You can gently shape the pancakes into nice round circles when you add more batter.

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The pancake is ready to be flipped when bubbles appear and a few of them pop. I admit that I cheat a little and lift up the edge of the pancake to check if it’s golden brown. Then carefully flip. TIP: Get the spatula completely under the pancake. This will help you to flip it.

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Continue to cook it for a couple more minutes until golden brown on the other side. Serve them immediately.

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I enjoyed these pancakes with and without syrup. The Meyer lemon and blueberries provides a natural sweetness that I found satisfying. Since I’ve stopped adding sugar to my coffee and cut back on sugar in general, I find fruits deliciously sweet. You can also sprinkle some powdered sugar on top but try topping with more Greek yogurt, more blueberries and garnish with a little sprinkle of grated Meyer lemon rind. I’m [not] sorry to say that I ate the pancakes before I thought of photographing the pancakes like that. You’ll just have to try it yourself and let me know how pretty it looks.

UPDATE:

One of my triathlon pals asked if she could use whole wheat flour. I tested it out and the pancakes were tasty. Whole wheat flour does have a denser and almost bitter flavor. I would suggest increasing the amount of lemon zest as the whole wheat flour flavor may overshadow the delicate Meyer lemon flavor. Or add a dollop of Greek yogurt and garnish with lemon zest. A bit of lemon zest in every bite will help to amplify the lemon notes.

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Ironman Vineman 70.3 Race Report

Forcing myself to be comfortable with being uncomfortable; being able to push my body to stay strong, flexible and aerobically fit as I enter a new age group and phase in my life. These are the reaons I’ve returned to race Ironman Vineman 70.3, my favorite triathlon for the 5th year in a row.

Add to the list, the selfish feeling of entitlement when police officers stop all traffic at the sight of me coming at full speed on my bike.

“Coming through! Wee!” VinemanFB4

I’ve also been chasing a PR at Vineman for the past 4 years. However, shortly after I registered to race, I knew it would not be my PR year. I had sustained one ankle sprain after another. I had a personal and work life that took priority. Still, I’d give it my best effort, seek small improvements and enjoy this wonderful experience.

SWIM

I was determined to have a successful open water swim. Every year at this race, I get swum over by men in their 30’s (the wave which typically followed my start wave). I’d get my goggles and swim cap pulled away then inevitably lose my contacts. Last year, my wave start was especially crowded and I got kicked in the neck, just within a few yards of the start. For a brief second, I thought I’d DNF at the start of the race. Luckily I did not.

This year, I resolved to avoid the underwater smackdown. I traded swimming straight along the buoys for hugging the shoreline. This resulted in a 1.33 mile swim but I actually swam one of my fastest open water swim paces. I’ll work on swimming straighter for next year’s race, but for this day, I was happy to exit the river unscathed. And despite my goggles leaking, both contacts remained in my eyes. Halleluhah!

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BIKE

My goal was to bike at a pace faster than the prior year’s. I was not conditioned to reach my PR pace but I would try to get close. Since my wave started late, the air temperature was warming up. The wind also started to pick up and I rode in headwind and crosswinds for most of course.

I decided to use UCAN bars for my nutrition. In the past I preferred liquid nutrition. I found liquid UCAN too pasty so I settled on the bars, which worked well during training. I thought it would be a good idea to keep the UCAN bars and electrolytes in two separate plastic sandwich bags placed in the back pocket of my tri kit. This turned out to be problematic. I was never adept at juggling for food or drinks with one hand on the handlebar. While I’d practice eating the bars on training rides, I could not manage everything I stuffed into one back pocket. A fellow Team Betty passed me and I could barely acknowledge her with a plastic bag dangling from my teeth. I was trying to get into the second plastic bag in my pocket. Thank goodness there are no photos of this. I was peddling slow during these moments. It was frustrating. I finally stopped twice for a total of 11 minutes according to my Garmin watch. Those precious 11 minutes were used to go to the bathroom, fill my bottles with electrolytes and eat my nutrition.

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The Hunchback de Ziplock bags of nutrition is oh so very aero.

There was better traffic control this year however there seem to be a lot more cars on the roads. It is summer in Napa after all. For a few miles I got stuck with a three other athletes behind a slow moving car, unable to pass it. Another car almost took out two cyclists in front of me when they got confused and entered the wrong lane. I had to shout for the car to “stop” and we safely rode around it.

Despite all the wind, stopping and traffic, I managed to improve my pace from the prior year’s but my official bike time would record a slower pace than my actual moving time. In a similar way with my swim result, I was still pleased with my pace. I was able to negative split, felt strong throughout the ride and passed many athletes during the last 10 miles.

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As I got off the bike, I had a feeling I might be dehydrated. While I was on the bike, someone driving by shouted to me what sounded like “you need to take salt.” I dismissed it. It’s hard to be certain what exactly the words were. Also how could the driver have possibly known that? Still it stuck in my head as I headed out of T2. I investigated my arms and noticed that I didn’t appear to be sweating much and I had a lot of salt on my skin. It was a windy day, so that could have dried up my sweat and my back did feel quite sweaty.

After the race, I realized I did not drink enough on the bike. I had lots of electrolytes still in the Ziplock bag I was carrying on the bike. Rookie mistake.

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Ironically, my father had reminded me before the race to “drink, drink, drink” which he told me is the relic of a song sung by Mario Lanza (his favorite singer) from the movie “Student Prince”. “It might prevent cramps” dad said. I think he might have been right.

RUN

If I didn’t appear sweaty enough on the bike, I certainly made up for it on the run. The weather forecast was a high of 83F, which is relatively cool for this race. It felt much warmer to me. (Our car showed a temperature of 90F that afternoon.) I felt good for the first two miles and tried to stay hydrated, but both legs started to cramp up. I ran whenever my legs would allow me to and walked as fast as I could the other times. I traded encouragement and small talk with a few other athletes suffering on the run course with me. I carefully took in electrolytes, salt and nutrition and focused on trying to recover. I accepted that I could not run much but pleaded with my legs to at least allow me to run the last mile in.

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The high-fives from friends, cheers from strangers and the energy from my dear friend Rhonda running with me for a few yards, transferred some mojo into my legs and I was able to run the last mile to the finish line.

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I didn’t care so much about my time as I cared about finishing strong in front of the kids. I wanted to set a good example. What a tough day for them to get up at 5 am and be out there in the heat all day. I could hear the 11 year old cheering me from start to finish. I appreciated her energy and enthusiasm. I’m honored that the 13 year old sports enthusiast gave up on his search for Brett Favre (you know, THAT famous quarterback), to search for me. Favre’s wife was racing too. After I finished, the 15 year old told me he wanted to race a triathlon next year. My heart melted. He even offered to pace me at this race but I had to tell him it was not allowed, but he did find a lot of Pokeman all over Guerneville and Windsor.

I smiled to myself all day, grateful that my family was there cheering me on. I worried they’d be bored, hot and exhausted waiting for me to finish. I wanted to finish the race so I wouldn’t keep them waiting for me too long.

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And I’m so grateful for this guy, for making sure I’d get my workouts in and being my biggest cheerleader. Thanks for all the support darling!

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Shout out to my Team Betty. There were a dozen of us racing and I am also so grateful to be a part of an amazing group of women from all over the world. I would meet one of the Bettys on the run course. Later I would learn that it was Arianna and she had traveled from Ecuador to race. She graciously thanked me later for the “power hug” saying that it helped her. I told her a few miles back, another friend and SVTC teammate named Christina hugged me when I needed it. I told them both, that this sport is part training and part heart and soul.

There were a total of four Betty podiums. It was great to see the camaraderie and friendship between Audra and Jen (below). They stood on the podium together, in the same age group. Polly and Jordan also made the podium. A shout out to Jordan for placing 1st in her age group!

IMG_5122And happy birthday to Hannah, who was celebrating the anniversary of her 29th birthday in a badass way.

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I finished with my 4th best effort out of 5, almost an hour over my PR. The small improvements (swim, transition, learning about nutrition) will all contribute to the bigger picture next year, as I seek to, once again, chase down my PR. For now, I’ll celebrate being able to say that I am among the many happy souls who are privileged to partake in this sort of thing.

TAKEAWAYS

  • Need to re-install a bento box if I’m going to continue to use bars for nutrition otherwise I need to go back to liquid calories.
  • Heed my father’s advice to “drink, drink, drink” (water that is, not booze).
  • Try out the latest anti-camping remedy. Yes cramping is part conditioning and part hydrations but for me, it’s also a part of my genetics. Even when I’m fully hydrated, I can get bad cramps. It impairs me physically AND mentally. I’m afraid to push too hard when I race because I’m scared of cramping. This article talks about what I’ve learned about cramping from a nutrition class I took at Stanford http://www.wsj.com/articles/a-new-way-to-prevent-muscle-cramps-1468256588
  • Heed Coach Soren’s advice that if I really work on my swimming, I can get faster.
  • It’s a long-term goal. Coach Garry from SVTC reminded me that to really prepare properly, it’s a long-term goal.
  • I’m in a new age group and while it does get harder, it’s still possible to PR. I just need to work a lot harder at it.

It’s about the journey and for this race, I was smiling to myself on the course feeling loved and fortunate to have my family’s support. I am so grateful to be able to do this sort of thing.

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Interested in the cool gear all the Bettys are wearing? You can get most of it here:

https://bettydesigns.refersion.com/c/be13

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A Healthy Three Course New Year’s Breakfast

Cheers to a Happy and Healthy New Year, Hungry Athlete Style!

Wishing everyone good fortune in health, family and love. While some of us celebrated the end of 2015 with joy and cheer, some of us experienced tragic personal loss. While some of us look forward to new challenges in 2016, others must bravely face daunting uncertainties. My wish to everyone is to have the strength, wisdom and support to deal with whatever 2016 brings.

“The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably deal with.” ~ Tony Robbins

And may we have gratitude, every day in 2016, for the things and people we are fortunate to have in our lives.

I will begin with gratitude for you, whomever you are, for taking the time to read this! I hope my blog and recipes bring a little joy to your world. I am, of course, very grateful for my family and friends.

I am also grateful and honored to be a part of Team Betty 2016! This is my second year as an ambassador for Betty Designs, a pretty rad line of stylish, functional and high quality cycling, swimming, running and athletic wear for women designed by a pretty cool athlete, mom, graphic artist and entrepreneur named Kristin Mayer who’s mottos are “Badass is Beautiful” and “Do Epic Shit”.   I was fortunate to be invited by Kristen to join a team of 200+ inspiring female athletes, mostly triathletes and ultra runners, from all over the world.

Last year I had the pleasure of meeting teammate Katherine in Arizona. Katherine happens to be the inspiration for my first post in 2016! Katherine asked me for advice on a healthy three-course breakfast she wanted to prepare for her husband on New Year’s Day. I suggested starting the first course with a Greek yogurt parfait, followed by an egg & vegetable casserole and a chocolate avocado mousse for the final course.

Here’s what Katherine made:

“We began with an acai bowl-style gluten-free Greek yogurt fruit dish, followed with an egg bake of vegetables, Gruyere and mozzarella, and sausage. Finally, a dessert of Ghirardelli avocado mousse.”

Looks and sounds amazing Katherine! Katherine is well versed in healthy eating and shared her story about how good nutrition helped her increase speed and move up in her age group, podium and qualify for USAT Nationals. Katherine’s inspiring story can be found here.

As for the Hungry Athlete, for my very first meal on New Year’s day, I prepared my Simple Granola to accompany Greek yogurt, then poached eggs served over smoked salmon and asparagus sautéed in olive oil. A clementine and mimosa were the sweet notes in this orchestra of flavors.

 

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A couple days later, after my first group trail run of the year, I invited the gang over for a brunch and served my Egg, Vegetable and Croissant Breakfast Casserole, my  Simple Granola and Alton Brown’s overnight cinnamon rolls. No, the cinnamon rolls are not healthy nor do I want to try to attempt a healthy version. I believe in indulging when the time is right and after a wet, cold and hard trail run, my friends earned cinnamon buns for running that extra mile.

Want to host a healthy 3-course breakfast, most of which you can prepare, stress-free by prepping the day in advance? Here’s The Hungry Athlete’s Three-Course Healthy Breakfast:

First Course: Greek Yogurt Fruit Parfait with Homemade Simple Granola, Raspberries, Blueberries and Pomegranate Seeds

Second Course: Egg, Vegetable and Croissant Breakfast Casserole

Third Course:  Chocolate Cinnamon Avocado Mousse

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First Course: Greek Yogurt Parfait with Homemade Granola, Raspberries, Blueberries and Pomegranate Seeds
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Egg, Vegetable and Croissant Breakfast Casserole (here with vegetarian sausage, caramelized onion, mushroom, broccoli and Manchego cheese)
Chocolate Cinnamon Avocado Mousse
Chocolate Cinnamon Avocado Mousse