Category Archives: Health

Creative Workouts at Home: Session 1

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Saturday was a lovely stay-at-home-day, but I didn’t want to miss out on the Crossfit workout our coach had posted. So I thought I would do a home-made workout, incorporating my long run.

The following 1 minute video shows what I came up with.

I call it the LabbyNo!

Enjoy!

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Push Up

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Lazy

I was in the box, the rubber floor leaving little black flecks on my sweaty skin every time I fell to the floor lowered myself from push-up position, and wondered how many reps Rob said we had to do. I couldn’t see the white board because 1) I was face down on the ground and 2) I wasn’t wearing my glasses anyway (and the board gets fuzzier the further away I am).

Push-ups are never easy for me, but they don’t seem quite easy for anybody.

Have you ever seen anyone smile while doing push-ups?

I didn’t think so. The only people who smile while doing push-ups are either selling something OR they are actually grimacing.

The first three reps were okay, meaning no innocent-bystanders would think I was having a seizure; but then reps four and five became significantly harder. By rep six I felt as if I had a lead weight on my back, and by rep seven I wondered how many more I had to do before I could justifiably lay on the floor panting.

That’s when I heard the alarm on my phone, its soothing chime resounding over the scuffling shoes and raspy hyperventilation.

I wondered why on earth I was SO tired, when I can usually do ten wobbly push-ups before collapsing.

Somewhere before push-up number eight, I woke up.

…and it all had been but a dream…

…and I was SO THANKFUL that I didn’t have to do another rep!

This is the first time I’ve actually dreamt of Crossfit, and I feel it’s a threshold of sorts.  My son and I joined eight months ago, and while I’m still not as strong or agile as I’d like to be, I can see improvement. For example, I CAN do a real push-up now, whereas in the beginning, I could only quiver in plank position. I can also do Turkish Getups, which literally made me trip on my own feet back in January. I also recently did one ‘sort-of’ pull-up, which if nothing else, gave me hope.

Crossfit is more than a way to relive stress: it is a venue for practicing self-discipline and dedication, two of my weak areas. When I train at home, I can get distracted by things, like wild bunnies or manure trucks; or because nobody’s looking, I don’t push myself; so being in proximity to other people helps me focus.

God made us social beings, and though I can’t exactly explain it, there’s just something about working through a difficult task with other people that gives you a feeling of accomplishment and inspires you to come back. It doesn’t matter if you’re the weakest, slowest person with the wobbliest push-ups–you are still part of the team.

It is an idea I want to apply to other areas of my life.

If you see Crossfit as a temple where you can worship yourself, then you are missing something.

I see Crossfit as a place where I can strengthen the things God has given me, both the tangible and the intangible–and it has very little to do with push-ups.

Capers are Not Just for Muppets: Inspiration from Real Recipe Plans

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Real Recipe Plans

When I was offered a free trial of Real Recipe Plans, I thought, “Great! This will help me to be organized!” So, I began the membership by promptly vacating my own gluten-free cooking zone for a suspect kitchenette in the Alps, which is a less-than-stellar way to begin any new endeavor.

I came back from our marathon festivities, which included a close-encounter with Austrian cheese, to find a backlog of recipes along with a sinking sensation that I had failed before I’d begun.

I needed help, and Real Recipes Plans offered it to me.

Not only do I receive five simple, gluten-free, dairy-free vegetarian recipes each week, I also get a handy shopping list I can download to my iPad. The only way this service could be improved would be if I could highlight, check or delete items as I go along. But I AM happy to have the list because all I have to do is pick up the ingredients and then rest soundly knowing that even if I’m stuck behind a parade of tractors on my way home from Crossfit, a fresh, whole foods dinner will still be on the table in a timely manner.

But more than just the ease of using this service, Real Recipe Plans encourages me to add new things to our dietary repertoire. I’ve gotten into a Vegan rut recently, serving the ‘usual’ garbanzos with coconut milk, sweet potato tacos and if all else fails, rice and beans. While these recipes are good ones, some members of the family say things like, “It’s Monday, we must be having mango black bean salad.”

Thus enters Real Recipe Plans to revitalize the Wellman family palate.

One of the first recipes I made called for capers. I was under the impression capers were a type of little fish, like an anchovy or sardine. Fortunately for my children, I googled it before doing the shopping, and thus, the Wellman family had their first capers in a quinoa salad that did NOT taste like fish and had nothing to do with Muppets (our only prior experience with the word).

Most of the recipes are perfect as is, but sometimes, such as in the Farmer’s Market Bowl, I added some fresh ginger and garlic: not only to spice it up a little, but because I am a firm believer that fresh ginger and garlic ward off colds, flus and unwanted houseguests.

Even though I haven’t yet stuck with the ‘plan’ of making one recipe per day, and even though I can’t always find some of the ingredients here in Germany (like kale, since it is a seasonal crop and won’t be seen for several more months) Real Recipe Plans has encouraged me to try new things and has helped me out of the gluten-free Vegan doldrums.

I have friends who scour the internet for recipes and have APPS that create shopping lists for them, but I am too busy/distracted/interrupted to do this myself. I would much rather pay someone ten bucks a month to send me the recipes (and the lists) and know that dinner will be more than just a can of beans.

Real Recipe Plans is a great service for those of us who value fresh, whole foods but need a little help in the organizational department. Thank you, Chef Kimi, for the great-tasting, easy-to-make, real-food recipes! 

A Message from Master Chef Kimi Reid of Real Recipe Plans

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I don’t often do this, but I thought I’d share this note from Master Chef Kimi Reid, of Real Recipe Plans, who sends easy, healthy and delicious recipes to my inbox once a week. The blog of my experience with this service will follow soon, but I was encouraged this post because I agreed with SO much of it.

–Keri

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Why Gluten-Free?  Why Real Recipes?  Master Chef Kimi Reid explains.

“We live in a fast-paced society and healthy food is not always accessible or affordable!  There are so many alternatives to cooking at home, and I realized that there needed to be a simple solution to take-out. An alternative to delivery.  A downright easy way to avoid common food allergens.  We need to get back in the kitchen…asap…go, now!

So I created Real Recipe plans, which provides busy people like yourself with a simple plan every week.  After spending 9 years in the professional culinary world, I can tell you that the only way to avoid processed foods and many common food allergies, is to make the food yourself.

My food philosophy is ‘Naturally gluten, dairy and soy-free,’ because I understand the challenges associated with food allergies.  I personally follow this eating philosophy and have found incredible anti-inflammatory and digestive success eating this way.  And honestly, most of my subscribers have been astounded how easy it is to keep these foods out of your diet…just focus on the real ingredients, and follow our awesome recipes.

I personally have sensitivities to gluten, dairy and soy, and have found that I feel much better without these ingredients.  It can be easy to eat gluten-free, but there is a whole world of gluten-free products out there, which will not necessarily help anyone reach their health goals.  I honestly feel that eliminating common food allergens from your diet, opens up your world to a plethora of exciting, real ingredients…but not everyone knows how to cook with real ingredients these days.  Real Recipe Plans shows you how to cook with real ingredients in new, fresh and delicious ways.  Yahoo!”

*Bonus: ‘Like’ Real Recipe Plans on Facebook, and try the service for FREE for one month!

Catching Up

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You will not find me mixing peas with my mashed potatoes, nor will you see me stabbing up steak with my broccoli. Everything must have its place; and this translates into blogs as well.

I usually have 3 or 4 blog posts rolling around in my head at any given time, and normally I savor them, doling them out at the proper time and place. On a rare occasion, I will toss everything into the pot and hope for the best. This is one of those blogs. I will, however, apportion the ramblings into shish-ka-bob pieces for your enjoyment. Life has been so full recently, I fear a backlog unless I clean out the corners of my brain.

Happy Birthday!

Will 16

Today is my eldest son’s 16th birthday. I will suppress the desire to show you cute baby photos–this is my gift to him: refraining from embarrassing reminiscence. He is such a fine young man, and I’m incredibly proud of him. Not merely because of his intellect, humor and his creativity (which are each respectable gifts) but because he is a young man of wisdom and integrity. When he was little, I never imagined he would become such a good friend to me.

Food!

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to try a website called “Real Recipe Plans.” Naturally, I began by messing up the entire deal by leaving town for my marathon, thus missing the first week of recipes. However, I am now catching up, and I have to say, I LOVE having someone tell me what to cook and provide a shopping list. Even though I have not followed the daily schedule, the vegetarian dishes are perfect for our family: easy to make, healthy, quick and most importantly, delicious. I will blog in more detail about this new endeavor, but for now, it is enough to say that Real Recipe Plans is going to be a huge blessing to our family!

Marathon #5
The family finds me around mile 20 & Libby snaps a picture.

The family finds me around mile 20 & Libby snaps a picture.

I had many fears going into the Pitztal Gletcher Marathon, and some of them were well-founded. While I didn’t notice the altitude affecting my performance, the many miles of downhill took a toll on my left knee, and at mile 18 I had to slap on a knee strap. However, looking back, this also happened at the (flat) Koenigschlosser marathon last year (what IS it with mile 18??), so it might be a dietary problem (like my addiction to salty foods).

Despite the knee problems, altitude and the rogue cows running interference at the start (yes, Alpen bells clinging and all), the race went VERY well, and I managed a PR of 4:26, which is nearly 5 minutes faster than my last marathon.

A cow in the Pitztal Alps

A cow in the Pitztal Alps

The race course itself runs from the Riflesee Talstation at Mandarfen all the way to Imst, Austria, which means cars have to pass you along the (sometimes) narrow alpine road. I took the shuttle bus from Imst to the start line at Mandarfen, where an old German runner bought me coffee and encouraged me to run ultras because, he said, they are easier on the body. He also showed me photos on his phone of the Jungfrau marathon, which looks delightful in a grueling sort of way. He assured me that most people walk up the steep parts. I’d like to find out for myself someday.

But for now…

Noah & Libby finish with me

Noah & Libby finish with me

I ran my fastest marathon ever, clocking one mile that was just under 8 minutes (and NO, it was not the first mile). I had 9 to 9:30 minute-miles up until my knee trouble at mile 18, where my pace slowed considerably. The last mile was a long, slow ascent that made me want to cry–especially since they had run out of watermelon at the last aide station, and I had to gnaw a slim pink bit off a rind.

I still have to figure out vegan fueling for race day, as I am pretty sure I ran out of steam. I used chia ‘gels’ but should have begun consuming them earlier in the race (well before needed).

Run and learn.

I am certain I would have done much worse without Crossfit training. For one thing, I wore my hydration pack, which usually leaves my shoulders sore after 26.2 miles. But this time, my shoulders didn’t hurt at all. It might be because I ran out of water, so it was very light by the end, but I’m hoping it was due to the new muscles growing atop my arms. Also, my legs felt very good, and I was only walking like Frankenstein for about a day afterwards (as William and I did a modified WOD in the marathon parking lot–yes, I brought my kettle bells to the race). Two days after the marathon I was back in the box, which helped my recovery considerably.

I wore my Skora ‘core’ shoes for this marathon, and they were perfect. I had NO foot pain whatsoever (not even an ache), which is a first for me. I DO believe in minimalist running–and the Skora cores, while a little sweaty, do fit like a glove.

Several times during the marathon, I felt like giving up. But the one thought I had was: “Whenever you feel like quitting, have some gummy bears.” It worked like a charm, thereby validating my theory that gummy bears make everything better.

I may have some unresolved food issues.

I love running out in God’s creation, and the Pitztaler marathon was by far the most spectacular scenery I’ve seen on a race course thus far. It was a small race, with only about 250 people (most of them very fast Austrians). But I enjoyed its quaintness. We stayed in a perfectly clean & kitsch Austrian Ferienwohnung, with the MOST hospitable owners; and I hesitate to name the place, lest it be booked up for the entirety of our tenure in Europe.

The best part of the marathon? Crossing the finish line with my kids. That one brief moment is worth the months of training.

Crossing the finish line

Crossing the finish line

Only God knows how these races affect our lives and my children’s futures. My prayer is that it teaches them something about being faithful in the small, everyday things (like marathon training), which can often equip you for something you once thought impossible.

Celebrating together

Celebrating together

As I sit here on my balcony on this sunny summer morning, reflecting on my son’s 16 years of life, and how swiftly time passes, I am reminded that we must make the most of every opportunity given to us–not for ourselves, but for those intangibles that shape the lives of those around us. That is the prize for which I strive in the marathon of my life.

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Marathon Season

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Pitztal Tirol

When the snow melts and the smell of damp earth is in the air; when the manure trucks flock back to their annual nesting grounds, and your lavender candle, no matter how Yankee it claims to be, no longer masks the scent of the frische Landluft, you know spring has arrived in Germany.

And springtime, as everyone knows, means marathon shopping.

If you trained for a marathon during this dark frozen season, you have my respect. While I did some running this winter, I mostly complained about the weather on my blog. I just grew tired of my skin being cold–and I think that’s natural. People were meant to wear fig leaves and flip-flops, not to be wrapped up head-to-toe in Gore-tex.

But now, though it’s only 43 degrees and the wind is blowing the rain sideways, it feels more springlike somehow, and my thoughts turn to marathon season.

One of my long-term goals is to run a mountain marathon. I don’t live near any mountains, but I won’t let a little thing like elevation stop me.

I did some online shopping and found a marathon in Tirol, which is one of my favorite places on earth. And as if that isn’t incentive enough, it is mostly downhill.

It makes me a little nervous since all of the people on the website look like Olympians, but I looked at the stats from previous races, and if I train really hard, I might be able to keep up with the 70 year-old finishers.

A girl has to have dreams.

I have twelve weeks to prepare, so naturally I began by slamming my right knee into a counter at a restaurant after eating curly fries (yes, curly fries have invaded Germany). My knee is thus a little achy from the blunt trauma.

In sympathy, my left knee began to make a popping sound. It doesn’t hurt and only pops when I keep it straight and lean forward. Fortunately my leg is rarely straight when I run, so I had no difficulty with my nine-miler Monday.

I am thinking that I need to go back on the Eat to Live plan for a while. Before I found Amy’s Organic gluten-free mac & cheese my knee problems had completely vanished. So with a marathon in sight and a 40th birthday rapidly approaching, it is probably a good time to start eating healthier. 

More baby spinach.

Fewer curly fries with mayo.

Yes, training begins now.

After this bowl of sugar popcorn.

Crossfit and Long-Distance Running: A Comparison

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WOD Charlie

I know I’m not supposed to run long distances before Crossfit, but I can’t help it.

On Monday, the sun came out, and even though it was cold enough to freeze my extremities, I quickly geared up and headed outside. I ran six miles, and in the afternoon, I went to Crossfit.

I promised myself a day off on Tuesday, but as we were eating breakfast, the clouds cleared, leaving our village in a beautiful splotch of sunlight. Without giving it much thought, I pulled on the first running clothes I could find (I admit…they were in a pile on my floor from the day before), and I hit the road. I didn’t mean to run another six miles, but I had to avoid manure trucks, and thus altered my anticipated 4-mile route.

When I went to Crossfit on Monday, my abs were still sore from Saturday, and when I went on Wednesday, my shoulders were still feeling Monday.

But it is the kind of sore that says, “Hello, you have actual muscles here,” and not the kind that has you limping to the health clinic.

I love running, and I love Crossfit, but there are differences.

In running you are (usually) solo.

In Crossfit, you have a whole group of people welcoming you as if you’re a long-lost cousin.

If you fail on a run, nobody has to know about it.

You never fail in Crossfit (even if you’re struggling under a barbell, somebody is there to tell you to stand up and start over).

If you run, you stop going for pedicures because your feet are hopeless.

If you Crossfit train, you stop going for manicures because really–who cares about your hands?

While running you can let your mind wander.

During Crossfit all you do is focus (so you don’t do needless reps).

Running requires putting one foot in front of the other.

Crossfit requires using muscles you didn’t know existed.

You can take the dog running with you.

You can take the dog to Crossfit, but he can only observe.

When you run, you pray that God gives you strength to endure life.

When you do Crossfit, you pray that God gives you strength to endure the next rep.

Crossfit and long-distance running are like children: they might be similar, but they are wonderfully, uniquely, surprisingly different.

I love each of them.

Under the Rock Pile

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Today was stressful for no one particular reason. Rather, it was a lot of little things stacking up like bricks in a wall. The last ‘brick’ was more like a pebble, placed jovially atop the rapidly crumbling structure by one of my unfortunate children, and the whole thing collapsed.

Yes, I lost my cool.

It happens from time to time. I almost didn’t blog today because I was so out of sorts, but my daughter said that I should talk about my meltdown because, “It is such a rare occurrence.”

I’m glad it’s rare.

There was a time in my life when fits of anger would build inside me, and the only way to alleviate it was through yelling, since violence wasn’t my thing. It took many years to break the yelling habit. After all, many women I respected assured me that they, too, yelled at their kids. It was ‘normal.’ But something about that never sat right with me. I knew I wanted something different. I didn’t want to pass on the yelling gene to my own kids. Or heaven forbid, to watch my theoretical grandchildren become yellers.

This morning, I didn’t exactly yell–it was more of a verbal pounce, but in our sensitive house, it was the same as full-lunged bellowing. Afterwards I felt so badly, I went to my study to ‘be alone,’ which means praying and leaving a little puddle of tears on the floor.

Normally, I handle stress through running (which is also my time of prayer and contemplation) and proper nutrition. But lately I’ve been lacking both sunshine and sufficient exercise. And let’s face it–it’s hard, if not downright impossible to feel happy eating salad when it’s cold and dark outside! I’d rather cozy up with some gluten-free croissants drizzled with Nutella.

It is hard for me when there is no sunshine, and the puppy, cute as he is, pees on the brand-new rug after I’ve been outside with him for an hour.

I know there are worse things in life, and that the puppy IS a little glimpse of heaven; but even small doses of stress are toxic, and if you let stress build up, it can lead to a meltdown of nuclear proportions.

After “Mommy’s Time-Out” today, I emerged from my study to find a pink card on my pillow, a loving email from a concerned teen, and a pint of my favorite ice cream, wrapped up with a bow, sitting right outside my door. Sure, one of my kids was completely oblivious to the whole thing, but that’s okay too. My kids are so loving and so forgiving that I think they came through it unscathed.

In fact, it might be good for them to see me fail once in a while and for them to see me make amends when I’m wrong.

Sometimes we stumble.

The key is to get up and look ahead.

Because you can’t see clearly from under the rock pile.

Puppy Sunshine or Why Runners Should Love Dogs

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Training

Training

Last week I ran 44 miles in five days.

That is what a little dose of sunshine does to me.

Unfortunately, the sun went away and it began to snow again, which means a corresponding household spike in Maranatha Raw Organic Almond Butter consumption.

My husband says that I am solar-powered, and it is no joke. I feel like a completely different person when the sun is shining.

When it is gloomy, I want to cuddle up with my Mac while dipping my Wasa gluten-och laktosfritt Knäckebrot directly into the jar of almond butter and (ironically) shop for marathons. But when it’s sunny, I am the person I like to be–the one who actually goes running, rather than the one who thinks about it.

When the sun shines, I go running AND clean the house. The residual effects from last week’s daylight were so profound, I even cleaned out my pantry. And if you’ve ever been frightened by my pantry, you will understand what an accomplishment this was.

Yesterday I came home from a busy day and the sun was out. It was cold, and even though I am sick of the cold weather, the sun lured me out. Also, we have our houseguest Bailey here, and she is an AVID runner, so she coaxed me out-of-doors. So, I set down the jar of almond butter and put on my shoes. I even thought, “It is SO sunny out, I won’t need my balaclava!”

I know, I know…I should NEVER tempt fate like that.

It turned out to be like some kind of twisted joke, a cruel irony, bad karma, or in Christian terms, a time of refinement, as halfway through the run, the clouds swooped in and it began to snow directly at me.

Bailey and I were both covered with snow on the left sides of our bodies, as if someone were shooting a plaster-gun at us.

I had to laugh. It wasn’t the maniacal laugh that sometimes scares my children when I’m at the end of my rope. It was, strangely, a happy laugh. And the only reason I could laugh was because of the ever-cheerful labrador.

Bailey doesn’t care if the snow is blasting at the side of her body. She doesn’t care if the frigid wind blows her ears inside out. She doesn’t care if the snow accumulates on top of her head like a wobbly little party hat. She is just thrilled to be outside running. And her cheerful nature is infectious. How could I be miserable when she looks up at me, and snow is plastered to a single side of her goofy grin?

This is part of the reason we added Charlie to the family. I hope that someday he will love running as much as Bailey does–and that his good attitude and cheerful outlook will rub off on me, whether the sun is shining or not.

Down Time

Down Time

Almost Never Christmas

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I saw my shadow today!

I saw my shadow today!

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve quoted the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe since December 26th. Though Lewis has written more inspirational lines, none can capture Germany’s winter this year quite as well as his phrase: Always winter, never Christmas.

And I’m not just whining. There was a reason for chasing my vitamin D pills with multiple shots of espresso.

My husband sent me a link to an article in der Spiegel that states this has officially been the darkest winter in Germany in 43 years, which completely validates my compulsive macaroni-and-cheese eating.

After nearly 13 years living in Alaska, I know I shouldn’t complain. But at least in Alaska, I knew what I was getting into. I KNEW the Arctic Circle wasn’t arbitrarily named. I KNEW polar bears only lived near a pole, which meant, coldness. But Germany duped me.

When we moved here seven years ago, they had the mildest winter on record. It looked like the shire in perpetual spring. Gazing at the emerald fields in February, I thought, “This isn’t so bad!” In fact, the winters have typically been more mild than my native midwest, where you can go from 80 to zero in a day.

But this German winter won the fight. I have posts on this very blog describing the beauty of running in the snow–when the road is frozen and gentle flakes are falling all around–blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Enough! I am done with winter! So done with it that I briefly stopped running. I was simply sick of feeling cold. So, I slunk away and hid in the Crossfit box until things began to thaw.

Fortunately, the sun came out a couple days ago, and with it, warmer weather. It was above freezing for the first time in weeks, and I was able to run without a jacket and YakTrax. Today, I didn’t even need mittens. It wasn’t particularly sunny today, but it was warm, so I stepped out into the fresh air, and it felt so incredible, I ran for 12 miles.

I’ve heard rumors that winter will be back again, but I don’t want to think about it. In fact, my friends won’t even talk about the forecast in front of me (bless them…I have the most awesome friends).

For today, the sun is peeking through the clouds, the birds are singing, flowers have pushed their delicate white and yellow heads through the mud, and I went running.

Yes, I had mud to my ankles, bugs in my face and some remnants of snow to slide through, but I went running and did NOT feel cold! That is a reason to celebrate! That is a reason to hope! Christmas WILL come eventually! And we shall call it “Spring!”