Sheryl Jesin

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Meal planning

I’ve been meal planning on and off for the past year.  When I stick with it, it makes a huge difference in our lives.  It makes grocery shopping a breeze, and we throw out far less food.  We always have a delicious, home cooked meal on our table.  I tend to make dinners the night before, as there is very little time for cooking after I pick Dylan up from school.

I’ve tried out a few different meal plan templates, and this one is my favorite:  The Project Girl Meal Planner.   I’ve been using her second version, without separate squares for each meal, but I have been planning each meal of the day – breakfasts, lunches and dinners.  It might seem a bit anal to plan out breakfasts, but it saves precious brain power in the morning when I  no longer have to decide what to make that day!

What I love about this meal plan is that there is room on the same piece of paper for a shopping list.  I take the meal plan and the list with me when I go grocery shopping each Monday morning.  I’ve found it works best if I take the list with me in a plastic page protector, and keep it in there for the remainder of the week.  That way the meal plan and the list don’t get crumpled.  I save each week’s meal plan in a binder and often refer to them when I’m sitting down each Sunday night to make my meal plan and shopping list.

Do you meal plan?  Do you make grocery shopping lists?

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Running in the Rain

Today’s contribution to Marathon Week will be about running in the rain.  For two weeks prior to my half marathon, I obsessively checked the weather app on my iPhone many, many times each day.  Each time I checked, the forecast remained the same – RAIN!  The good news was that the prediction was that the day would be warm (high of 18 degrees Celsius, starting out at 10 degrees at 8:30 am, when the race began).

I have run many times in the rain, and I actually find it quite enjoyable.  The rain keeps you cool when running.  You feel like a real runner when you run in the rain, not just someone who jogs occasionally on the weekend if the weather is nice.  So, I had some experience with inclement weather, but I had never completed a long run in the rain.   21km in the rain terrified me.  I worried about blisters on my feet, staying warm enough (it was expected to be a windy day), and I worried about chafing from my wet clothing.

In the end, the rain was not a problem at all.  It was pouring when I left my house, and it continued to rain while I waited in my corral.  The rain slowed down to a drizzle as the race started and luckily pretty much stopped after the first 15 minutes of the race.

Here’s what I did to tackle the rain:

  • I slathered my feet with vaseline in the morning before I put on my socks.  My shoes were soaked within minutes of getting out of my car before the race.   They stayed wet for the next 3.5 hours, but I didn’t get one single blister.
  • I put coconut oil on my body in areas where I was worried about chafing.  This included my arm pits, and a number of areas under the edges of my sports bra.  I didn’t chafe at all!
  • I kept warm and dry before the start of a race by bringing a large throwaway umbrella with me, and by wearing a garbage bag, which I took off just before I crossed the start line.  My clothes barely got wet and I stayed warm.
  • I didn’t worry about puddles.  My feet got soaked as soon as I stepped out of my car.  It would have been very hard to try and run around puddles, and it likely would have wasted a lot of energy.  My feet were wet, and I just accepted it, and enjoyed splashing through puddles.
  • I wore a running hat with a brim, which kept the rain off my face during the first part of the race when it was drizzling a bit.
  • I wore a running technical t-shirt and a running skirt.  I did not wear a waterproof running jacket, and I did not wear pants or capris.  The fabric of my clothes was wicking and quick- drying (gotta love Lululemon!)  I knew that the high of the day would be 18 degrees and any extra layers would have overheated me.  I saw a lot of people with jackets on at the start, and pretty much everyone took them off.  I saw a lot of people wearing long sleeves and long pants and they were sweating profusely.  They were really overdressed.

Have you ever run a race in the rain?  Do you have any tips to add?

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Marathon week

Just three short weeks ago, I completed my second half marathon, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon.  I had tons of fun,  and shaved a cool 10 minutes off my first half, finishing in 2 hrs and 25 minutes.  I am extremely proud of my time, especially since the conditions were tough that day – wet and windy – and even the pros felt their times suffered as a result of the weather.

I’ve been meaning to write my race recap, but I’ve been having a hard time gathering my thoughts.  So, I am going to spend this week writing about my half marathon experience.   Here is my planned schedule:

Monday – Race nutrition

Tuesday – How to run a race in the rain

Wednesday – Mind over matter – how to tame the mental demons

Thursday – Race Recap – My experiences during the race

Friday – Final thoughts, lessons learned, what’s in my running future

I can’t think about running today without my thoughts going to the cancelled New York Marathon and the recovery efforts in New York, New Jersey, and the surrounding states after Hurricane Sandy.  I can’t even imagine what the survivors of the hurricane have been experiencing over the last week.  So many people lost everything – they are cold and hungry, and it’s hard to fathom that things like are even possible in the United States.  My heart goes out to everyone who was been touched by the hurricane.

My thoughts also go to all those who trained for months and who were really looking forward to the New York Marathon.  So many runners raised money for important charities and spent countless hours pounding the pavement over the hot summer, taking time to improve their physical and mental health through running.

There was so much animosity this week towards the marathon and towards the runners when Mayor Bloomberg first announced that the marathon would continue.  I can understand that to those who lost their houses, their belongings, their electricity and their heat, that the marathon seemed like nothing more than a frivolous parade of fit people drinking Gatorade.  I believe Mayor Bloomberg made the right decision to cancel the marathon.  The timing just wasn’t right this year.  New York City needs to recover from Sandy right now.

I do feel, however, that the marathon became a bit of a scapegoat for everyone’s anger.  People were mad that the marathon had generators, food, and water.  They thought these resources would be better allocated to victims of the hurricane.  While this is all true, I can’t help but think that there were many other things in New York that could have been reallocated.   Should people have been allowed to eat in a restaurant in the days after Sandy?  Perhaps their meals could have been given to a hurricane victim.  Was it OK for shoppers on Fifth Avenue to buy clothes after the storm?  Perhaps money they spent on yet another pair of jeans or a designer purse could have been donated to the Red Cross.  Should businesses have been allowed to use generators to keep going after Sandy cut off their power?  Maybe their generators should have been plugged in to houses on Staten Island.   My list can go on and on.

It was a beautiful day in New York City today, and many runners headed off to Staten Island and volunteered their time to help people rebuild.  Lots of money from the marathon was donated to relief efforts, and the generators, the water and the food was given to hurricane victims.  So, some good has come out of the whole marathon debacle.  I choose to focus on that.

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NaBloPoMo is here!

November has arrived and that means it is time for NaBloPoMo – National Blog Posting Month. That means for the month of November, I will be posting a blog post every single day. Yes, weekends too!
I’m sure, dear readers, that you are on the edge of your seats, anxiously awaiting 30 days of blogging from Little Snowflakes. I can’t promise you that each post will be earth shattering, but I promise you now that something will be posted daily.
I had a lot of fun with NaBloPoMo in 2011 and I’m sure this year won’t disappoint.
Post number one is now done. We are off a good start!



Can your smartphone make you fit?

Can your smartphone make you fit?

I say yes!

I recently switched over to an iPhone from a Blackberry, and I have been having a lot of fun with apps.

A favorite is Nike Training Club (NTC)- which is basically like having your own personal trainer, available whenever you are.  The app contains over 60 different workouts based on interval training.   I’ve done a few so far and they are fun and also challenging.  I thought my legs were strong from running, but the NTC workouts are finding muscles I never even knew I had!  It’s great to be able to do a quick workout in 30 minutes without even having to leave the comfort of my own home.  I love running, but as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, it can be hard to find time to go out for a run.  I can see these NTC workouts keeping me active throughout the winter.

Do you have any favorite workout apps?

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Meal planning Monday

Not feeling in a very bloggy mood today, but I will post our meal plan for the week.

Here it is:

Sunday – out for dinner

Monday – vegetable soup, chili over quinoa topped with guacamole, tabule salad

Tuesday – out for dinner

Wednesday – Spinach almond cakes, kale and carrot salad, roasted brussell sprouts

Thursday – same as Wed

Friday – out for dinner

Saturday – to be determined

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Birthday un-cake

I feel very blessed that I will be celebrating my birthday today with a family brunch. My family has been very kind with respect to my new eating restrictions and always ensure that there is some vegetarian, dairy and gluten free food available for me to eat at all family functions.

It’s hard to imagine a birthday party without a birthday cake – blowing out the candles and singing happy birthday are birthday traditions with which even my four year old son strongly identifies.

I toyed with the idea of not having a cake at my birthday, just to make a statement against all the unhealthy birthday cakes that are generally served at birthday parties. Yes, I’m talking about cakes filled with white sugar, white flour and butter, or perhaps margarine or hydrogenated fats! I really don’t mean to be a party pooper – but NO ONE needs to eat these things, even in moderation.

I wanted to put a candle in a bowl of fruit and skip the cake at my birthday brunch. This was causing a lot of distress to both my mom and son – they couldn’t fathom a party without a cake!

So I decided to compromise, and make myself a vegan gluten free cake full of healthy and tasty ingredients. I found this recipe for a Raw Cashew Cheesecake on the Vegetarian Times website. I followed it exactly, except for swapping out the lime juice with lemon juice, since we were out of limes. This cake contains no dairy or eggs or sugar, but boy is it delicious!

Here is the final result:

Raw cashew cheesecake

I had a taste of both the crust and the filling as I was making them, and they were both delish. I think it will be a hit tomorrow. I plan on topping it with some fresh fruit, as suggested in the recipe.

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More birthday thoughts

I received a lovely birthday card in the mail from a charitable organization that I support.  It had some thoughtful words that I thought I would share with all of you.

When raindrops fall into the sea

the ripples reverberate across the water

So, too, every act we take

every word we speak,

every thought we have,

affects the world around us in untold ways

The card also listed some birthday customs:

  • Spend some time meditating
  • Celebrate with friends and family
  • Eat an exotic fruit that you haven’t had in a while
  • Make a charitable donation
  • Make positive resolutions

So often, birthdays are all about the presents we receive.   And while it is nice to give someone a thoughtful gift, I believe that a birthday shouldn’t just be another example of consumer excess.  This idea of consumerism was particularly present in my thoughts this year, as I watched news reports of Americans shopping for Black Friday bargains.   It was so sad seeing people shoving and pushing to get into the store first, to buy things that they probably don’t need, and that they likely can’t afford.

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Birthday lessons

Another birthday has come and gone and I’m a year older.  It’s been a wonderful year – of course the highlight was the birth of my second son Benjamin last December. It certainly was an adjustment at first learning to care for two kids, but now I can’t even remember what life was like before he arrived!

I spent my birthday doing a lot of things that I normally do, but it was still a wonderful day.  Taking Dylan to school, snuggling with Ben during a nap, going out for lunch with my mom, going for an amazing 10k run, leading a LLL mtg, cooking up and eating some delicious healthy food, watching TV with Jake after the kids were in bed.  Nothing too out of the ordinary, but still a wonderful day nonetheless.  It got me thinking how lucky I am that I get to do all of these things on a regular basis, not just on my birthday.  Birthdays are wonderful and a chance for special treats – but what is more important is how we live our day to day lives.   Each day should be full of joy, spent with family and friends, doing things that make us feel good!

I’ve been reading some amazing running/exercise/healthy eating blogs lately, and I have been finding them so motivating!  I especially like reading blogs written by active moms – I love hearing how they fit their activity of choice into their busy lives.  Swim Bike Mom is a great blog about a mom and full-time attorney who also just happens to compete in triathalons.   She recently completed a half-ironman in Miami (that is 70.3 km of swimming, biking and running!!!) – you can read her race report here.   At the end of her report, she lists some lessons she learned from the Ironman.  I loved this one:

5) No one cares.  I have done an epic thing (in my head).  But guess what?  No one cares.  People outside of triathlon think I am weird.  People at work wonder why I’m not in my office. People don’t care.  The lesson? When you do something “epic”—- you better care.  Because you’re all you’ve got.  You better tuck away your victories.  You better know.  Because no one else does….. and if they do…they don’t care.

She is so right!  When we do things in life, we have to do them for ourselves – because we believe it is the right thing to do, because we want to challenge ourselves and make our lives better!  I have learned that it is so important to be self-motivated, rather than relying on others for validation – because as Swim Bike Mom says – no one else really cares!  (They are probably too busy worrying about their own lives!)