Nourish Yourself: Part 2 with SuperfoodRunner

Plant Based Eating 101:

While plant based eating certainly requires the introduction of more fruits and vegetables, it’s also important to remember to include a healthy range of micro and macronutrients. For healthy, nourishing fats, we incorporate foods like coconut, avocado, nuts and seeds, olive oil. For protein, it’s important to consciously consume legumes, quinoa, soy-based products like tofu, nuts and seeds. For plant based athletes, it’s especially important to consume foods high in iron and B12. If you’re worried about getting enough of these nutrients, consider high quality supplements.

Once you have an understanding of what kinds of nutrients your body needs on a plant based diet, spend some time finding recipes and products that will make you look forward to eating! With the increasing popularity of vegan / vegetarian / dairy free recipes and a plethora of high quality, delicious plant based products in many stores, there’s no reason to feel restricted on a plant based diet. In other words, plant based eating does not mean salads for every meal. There are so many amazing ways to satisfy even your most indulgent cravings with plant based foods. (Hello, cashew cheesecake!)

 

It seems like the biggest challenges people face in eating more plants is: accessibility, cost, and how to make things that taste good and fill you up. What are your thoughts on this and what advice do you have on how to conquer these challenges?

Lexi: In my experience, eating more plants has actually helped reduce my grocery bill, especially when I take the extra time to make some of my pantry staples homemade. There are plenty of affordable plant based ingredients; brown rice, beans, lentils, coconut, nuts, seeds & more are often available to buy in bulk. If fresh berries are breaking your budget, buy them frozen. (They’re still perfect for smoothies, homemade chia jams & just snacking!) Sometimes when my budget is extra tight for the month, I simply look for sales in the produce section and then plan my meals around what I find. It’s also important to think seasonally – seasonal ingredients will generally be more affordable, (and often more local!).

While it’s easier to buy products like hummus, protein bars, jams, and other snacks, consider making them at home instead. Not only will they taste fresher and contain fewer preservatives, but they will also likely save you money in the long run.

 

What are a few tips and tricks that you have that have helped you be successful in eating more plants?

Trying new recipes has definitely helped us maintain a plant focused diet. It’s important to eat things you truly enjoy eating. If you don’t like salad, try roasting or sautéing vegetables instead. If you’re really in need of some comfort food, give homemade vegan mac & cheese a try.

Additionally, when you start moving towards a plant based diet, be sure to stick it out for a few weeks before deciding whether or not it’s right for you. If you start to notice changes in your energy levels, mood, digestion, etc. over time, you’ll be more likely to want to continue eating more plants simply because they make you feel good.

 

For people on the go, what are your favorite easy plant based snacks?

Smoothies are always a great option. There are endless ways to vary smoothie recipes, so you’ll be less likely to get bored! (Our current fave combo: Banana, almond milk, cold brew coffee, cacao powder & a bit of almond or peanut butter. YUM!)

Dates stuffed with nut butter (and maybe a few chocolate chips) are an excellent and easy choice for pre and/or post workout. We also love homemade protein bars and hummus with veggies or seed crackers.

 

Recipes:

Breakfast:

Mixed Berry Oat Crumble Bars

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup fresh mixed berries

Oat Crust & Topping:

  • 3 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 oat flour
  • 3/4 cup rice flour
  • 18 tbsp (1 cup + 2 tbsp) cold vegan butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tblsp hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Berry Chia Jam

  • 2 1/2 cups fresh mixed berries
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp tart cherry extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp goji berries-optional
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds

Instructions

Berry Chia Jam:

  1. Heat a saucepan to medium-low and add berries, lemon juice, cinnamon, and vanilla. Let simmer for 15 minutes, occasionally stirring gently with back of a wooden spoon until broken down.
  2. Remove from stove. Add chia and stir well. Stir again after 5 minutes so chia doesn’t clump together. Let sit for 30-40 min until thickened and liquid is absorbed.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F.

Crust:

  1. In a food processor, add all ingredients except butter. Pulse a few times to combine.
  2. Cut cold butter into small pieces and add to mixture. Pulse until mixture starts to form together (you can test by pinching between your fingers). Keep cold/cool until ready to use.
  3. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 pan that is lined with parchment paper.
  4. Spread berry chia jam evenly across crust, leaving a half inch border around the edges.
  5. Cover jam with 1 1/2 cups fresh berries.
  6. Sprinkle remaining half of oat crumble over the top.
  7. Bake for 35-40 min, or until the topping is golden brown.
  8. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.
  9. Enjoy for breakfast with a cup of tea or coffee, or enjoy for dessert with a heaping scoop of vegan ice cream!

Lunch:

Avocado Boats with Quinoa Tabbouleh and Spicy Tahini Sauce

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Ingredients

Spicy Tahini Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1/4 plus 1/8 tsp Berbere spice
  • 1/4 plus 1/8 tsp sea salt

Blend until well combined. Taste & adjust salt if necessary.

Quinoa Tabouli:

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 cucumber diced
  • 1 1/2 cups tomatoes, diced
  • 3 green onions chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped kale
  • 1 1/2 cups parsley, finely chopped 3 tbsp chopped mint
  • 3 tbsp hemp seed

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice 1 clove garlic minced 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 11/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp berbere

1-3 avocados

Instructions

Cook quinoa according to directions on package. Whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl and pour over quinoa. Stir well. Add the rest of the chopped ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Slice avocados in half (remove pit) and spoon the mixture into the center. Drizzle with tahini sauce and enjoy!

 

Dinner:

Mac & Cheeze

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups, presoaked cashews (soak for 1-2 hours)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp + 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 pinches cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 4 cups gluten free pasta
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp gomasio
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions

  1. Cook gluten free pasta according to directions on packaging.
  2. Drain soaked cashews.
  3. While pasta is cooking, blend soaked cashews, water, olive oil, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, paprika, salt, cayenne, pepper and turmeric until completely smooth and creamy.
  4. Drain pasta and gently fold sauce into pasta until well coated.
  5. In a small pan, lightly toast chopped almonds, nutritional yeast, gomasio and sea salt on stove over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
  6. Spoon pasta into separate bowls.
  7. Sprinkle topping over pasta and enjoy!

 

 

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There’s a U and I in Community

Just about every single one of us wants to be loved and feel the power of connection. Most humans thrive off of this. It’s in our make up. It is why social media has become such a big part of our culture. It’s like, “I want to show you my life and I want you to like it (or love it). I want to see your life and I want to celebrate it. I also want you to post those pictures or status so I can feel like, ‘Ahh, her life is messy too… it’s not just vacation pictures and achievement posts… good she’s human like me!’ ” We will save the comparison factor that social media can spark in each of us for another day, because today we’re talking community and diving right in.

I get to the start line and jog a little bit with about 30 minutes until the start of the race. I look around at all the people. Some people seem happy, others seem nervous; but generally the energy is excitement. There are bodies of all shapes, sizes, and colors, and it’s beautiful. There are groups of families and friends as well as individuals who have embarked on this event on their own.

As it becomes closer to the start of the race I can feel the energy building. Besides the toddler crying in the stroller, everyone here is generally happy. Everyone is here for a good time. WHAT else in the world draws this kind of community and good vibes in one space? Gratitude flushes over me and I absorb all the love I feel surrounded by.

The race starts and off we go. Mile by mile, I am focused on my own pace but I can’t help but take it all in. Looking around seeing faces of joy, exhaustion, happiness, and definitely some struggle but everyone is here to be a part of the commonality. The idea of doing something together, start to finish. How many opportunities do we get to be a part of experiences like these in our lives… with people we love AND with strangers. That’s the best part you see.

Sharing memories with our friends and family is what makes life so vibrant. The uniqueness of races; whether you are participating to crush your fastest time or do your first 5k, this is the space that allows us to challenge ourselves physically and mentally for a relatively short period of time and then celebrate with your squad. Laughing (or crying) about the joy or hardships of our journey to the finish line.

“I was hurting at mile 2 but then I pulled it together to finish strong!”

“Did you see the lady with the sombrero?”

“I got passed by a person in a bunny suit!”

“Next time, I’m going to train more!”

“That was awesome and awful all at the same time!”

“Whoa, I can’t believe I did that!”

“That was hard but I want to do it again!”

Also, sharing experiences with strangers. Whether its the sweet human that lets you go ahead in the porto-potty line or the person running beside you that inspires you the whole race, it’s events like these that remind you of the power of human connection and spirit. If you are distracted by the media and depressed about the state of the world, sign up for a race. There are so many good people in this world; many of them are the volunteers standing along the streets cheering you on.

I only do a few races a year, but every time I show up to a start line, I am reminded of the big picture of how beautiful COMMUNITY is. Technology, emoji’s, and acronyms definitely have their place in this busy world, but let’s also remember to unplug and connect in person. May we not forget the importance of face-to-face experience in real life (RL), because a real sweaty high five feels different than a virtual one!

See you on the start line!

 

 

Sweat and Dreams,

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She.is.beautiful Founder and Director, Mom of 2, and community lover

Things We Love

Do you have one of those friends who always recommends the greatest new thing? We do and we want to share some of our favorites with you. Each month we will share with you our favorite items of the moment.

HOKA One One Clifton 4:

The latest and greatest from HOKA. Let’s just say – we are in love! This fourth generation of the popular Clifton shoe does not disappoint. HOKA upgraded the materials to increase comfort and longevity of your shoe. Plus, they widened up the midfoot to allow for a little extra breathing room. An all around improvement to the Clifton 3, the Clifton 4 puts you one step closer to flying.

 

Goodr Running Glasses:

No one likes walking through life with your eyes half open. Especially when you’re simply trying to enjoy the amazing views mother nature has to offer. The SIB Sass Squad is here to save they day! The Goodr Running Glasses are “no slip”, “no bounce” and feature polarized lenses meaning they are built for more than just running. What does no slip and no bounce mean? Good question! Goodr uses a special grip coating to ensure their frames won’t slip when you start sweating. Their snug fit and light weight frame stays in place while running so they stay where you want them – hello, no bouncing. We here at SIB love them so much that we want you to try them on and fall in love with them too. Don’t worry, we’re bringing Goodr Running Glasses to our Santa Barbara event on September 23rd – stay tuned!

 

Sufferfest Beer:

The Beer of the Summer! We don’t just love Sufferfest Beer because it was created by a woman runner-that’s just a bonus! It’s smooth, refreshing, gluten-removed beer, and pairs perfectly post run with bare feet, outdoors, and a summer sunset. TAPER (India Pale Ale), SUMMIT (Blonde), and EPIC (Pilsner). You can find these at your local Whole Foods Market.

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Hydroflask:

 Summer is the season where hydration matters the most. That being said- there is nothing worse than drinking warm water on a hot, sunny day. Hydroflask is here to save the day! This stainless steal water bottle comes in a wide variety of sizes, styles, and colors to accommodate any hot or cold beverage. It’s impossible not to love your Hydroflask!  At SIB Headquarters, we swear by them!

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My Running Truth: Jackie McCloud

HELLLOOOOO!!!!  My name is Jackie McCloud.  I have a VERY hard time talking about myself.  But here a few fun facts about me:

  • My biggest passion in life is protecting the environment and public health. I get to do this every single day in my career
  • I love being outdoors and I have my grandparents and dad to thank for instilling in me a strong connection to nature.  When I was younger, they “forced” me to go fishing, canoeing and camping.  I’m lucky that they exposed me to the great outdoors from a very young age.  Now there’s nothing better than the sound of water against the bottom of a canoe.
  • I love running trails with my friends
  • I run for cupcakes.  Chocolate cupcakes.   Buttery chocolate cupcakes, with ganache frosting and sprinkles if we are being specific.

She.is.beautiful: When did you start running and what inspired you?

Jackie: I really started running about 4 years ago.  I had only dabbled before and run in spurts but it had never been part of my lifestyle.  One of my best girlfriends was visiting with her husband and they kept telling me about their awesome run-ventures.  I got inspired and looked at my local running store for a beginners running group.  I wanted to be healthier, have accountability and find a really awesome community.   I admit that I actually went in multiple times before signing up for a training group and told them how nervous I was and I didn’t think I could do it.

SIB: How has running affected your personal self-esteem, body image, goal setting, as well as other aspects of your life?

Jackie: Running has made me realize that I’m capable of so much more than I thought.  I was never considered athletic growing up.  I was the band nerd.  I could rock out a really awesome oboe solo, but run the mile in high school.  FORGET IT.   So going into adulthood I had this really negative perception of myself. I just assumed that since I was never a runner when I was younger, that there was no way I could ever do it.  And like it.  And incorporate it into a daily routine.  And have fun while doing it.

My first Wharf to Wharf training was such a mess!  It was almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy that I couldn’t be a runner.  My feet would go numb for at least 30 mins during the run.  I had the BEST COACH though in Coach Charissa from Fleet Feet.  She would stay with me the entire time I was having a meltdown, remind me that I just needed to go slow and it would happen for me.  To find a supportive community that has grown me into an adult runner has given me confidence.  I know when I set a goal, I can accomplish that goal with a lot of hard work and determination.  I literally cry every time I cross a finish line because it seems so out of the world to me that I just decided to run one day.  Now here I am multiple 5K, 10Ks, half marathons, 2 marathons, and soon to be an ultra under my belt.  I feel blessed to be surrounded by positive people that believed in me when I couldn’t or wouldn’t, and kept pushing me to new limits (and they are still pushing me to new limits). 

SIB: What piece of advice do you have for new runners?

Jackie: Put one foot in front of the other.  I think there’s a real misconception amongst new runners or beginners that if you aren’t running fast miles you aren’t a runner.  If you are moving your body every day, whether it is walking or run/walking, YOU are a runner.   

Also make sure you cross train.  I neglect this part of my routine and think quantity of miles will get me to my goal.  But if I run nonstop I get injured very easily.  Building in a couple of cross training sessions makes for a stronger runner. (I say this as I’m coming off a 2 month IT band injury….AND I missed running every single day that I couldn’t do it!)

SIB: Why do you keep going? What has kept you motivated to continue to reach new goals and get out the door?

Jackie: I keep going to explore new places and new spaces for myself.  Running is such a mental sport so I use it as my form of therapy and meditation.  I don’t get to be disconnected from work, life, technology too much these days.  But my run time, that’s all for me.  I turn the phone off, I don’t listen to music, and I just run.  I listen to the sounds around me, I say hello and smile at everyone on my runs. 

My motivation to get out the door is always I want to be healthy.  That has different meanings for a lot of people but I have been diagnosed as a borderline diabetic.  Which means I have two options: change my lifestyle and eat right or take pills.  I’d much rather take the running pill than an actual medication.  This keeps me focus on setting training schedules for myself and lacing up regardless of what is happening that day.  I always know I’m going to feel WAY better after getting out for an hour or two to take care of myself.    

SIB: What are your favorite running shoes and why?

Jackie: Much like Cinderella and her glass slipper, I had to find the magic shoe to carry me through long miles.  I am obsessed with my Hoka One One Cliftons for road and Challenger ATRs for trail.  They are built like a marshmallow.  I used to struggle with Achilles pain in other shoes, but I’ve not had any feet issues in the Hoka’s.

 

SIB: Do you have any running buddies that have inspired you along the way?

Jackie: Yes.  SO MANY!  I don’t think I have enough space to even include everyone that inspired me.  I will say without the support of my very first running partner (that was pregnant!) I don’t think I would have continued to run.  She stuck by my side and encouraged me. All the while she was pregnant and keeping her pace.  I was so inspired that she stuck to her training plan and her race goal!

I’m also inspired by the trainees that I get to coach.  It’s amazing to watch their dedication and joy when they hit their goal or a new goal.  Or when they push themselves to something they never believed was possible.  I connect with that on a deeper level since I have been there.  And I know that feeling of overcoming your own perceived barriers.

SIB: What’s on your race calendar this year?

Jackie: My first 50K!  WOOT!  I’m also going to run a Halloween marathon, Run for Pie, and She is Beautiful Santa Cruz (of course!).  If there’s an awesome trail run that catches my fancy, I’m sure I can be talked into it.  I’m way more into the training than I am the racing so I don’t typically have a lot of races on the calendar.     

SIB: Do you have a big, scary running goal you want to accomplish in the next 5 years?

Jackie: The most immediate goal is actually finishing the 50K.   I have just come off an injury but this year I’m dedicated to hitting that race goal.   This is the biggest goal I could ever imagine having just started running 4 years ago.    

A scarier goal for me is a destination race.  I’d love to go to a national park or monument and complete a longer distance race.  But all the planning has stopped me for even considering it.  Once I prove I can do a 50K I would like to start looking into that goal.

SIB: Fill in the blank, “My running truth is _____.”

Jackie: I get to do this!  There are so many people that can’t run or don’t want to run and I think we forget that we have a choice.  I get to make the choice daily, weekly, monthly, yearly to run.  I have suffer fest days for sure.  But through this sport I have met some of my closest friends, run in the most epic places, and gotten stronger and healthier than I have ever been. 

 

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Nourish Yourself: Part 1 with SuperfoodRunner

Lexi started Superfood Runner 2 years ago in June of 2015. At the time, she was running competitively for Amherst College, mostly competing in long distance events (3k, 5k & 10k). I (Beth) coached her throughout high school, so we have always shared a special bond when it comes to running and nutrition, which I always made a priority in my coaching program. When we both discovered we are intolerant to dairy & gluten, we had to essentially reprogram our bodies & make significant dietary changes, which eventually led us to follow a plant focused diet.

She.is.beautiful: What is the most challenging part of eating more plants?

Eating out, especially in mixed groups, can definitely be a challenge if the restaurant is geared more towards more traditional dietary choices. We’ve come to learn that it’s important to be able to adapt and prepare ahead of time when possible, but also to go with the flow when necessary.

Another challenging aspect can be consciously incorporating sufficient plant based protein into your diet. Even more importantly, we have to make an effort to include iron rich foods into our diets more often, especially in periods of high intensity training.

SIB: How has eating this way influenced how you feel in your everyday life? Has it had any influence on your running or fitness?

Beth: It really helped to reduce some of my menopause symptoms. I also feel that I have a lot more energy and a clearer mind. I used to suffer from severe headaches, stomach distress, and skin rashes almost daily, but they immediately began to clear up when I switched to a plant focused diet and haven’t been nearly as bad since.

Lexi: For my entire first year of college, I struggled with severe stomach issues that prevented me from competing to my ability. When I adapted my diet to eliminate gluten and dairy, I immediately noticed significant changes in my daily life & my ability to compete as an runner: more energy, fewer stomach “episodes”, better mental clarity, and more happiness, of course.

SIB: Tell us a bit about your running backgrounds.


The running gene is strong in our family! Beth’s grandfather is in the Athletic Hall of Fame at Miami University in Ohio for running. He was undefeated in Cross Country during his collegiate years, and at one point, he was ranked in the top 7 in the nation for the 2 Mile. Her father was All State multiple times in High School and qualified to nationals while competing collegiality. Beth’s grandfather and her uncle were the first father-son duo named to the Coaching Hall of Fame in Ohio, and her uncle still coaches. He coached current running phenom, Emily Infeld, when she was in high school.

Beth: Back in high school, I was actually the first woman to compete in cross country at my high school. I started the women’s team by convincing a bunch of my friends to join, and went on to qualify for State Finals the first and second years I ran. After high school, I ran for a year in college at Miami University of Ohio, but after 2 stress fractures in the same foot, I changed gears a bit and took up long distance cycling/racing instead. In 2009, I took over as the head women’s cross country coach at Lexi’s high school. In two years, we went from last in our region to first in our region, sending the whole team to State Finals for the first time in many years. I stayed there for 5 years, and then moved on to my son’s all boys Catholic School as their first ever female assistant coach for cross country and track. Our team won back to back State Titles in Track, and the 4 x 800m relay team was All State, setting the school record in the process. Lexi’s brother, Bryce, who ran for the team is now competing for Ashland University in Ohio.

Lexi: My running career technically started in 3rd grade, when I beat out all of the boys in our school mile competition while wearing a dress (true story). Fast forward a few years; basketball was my primary sport (I’m 5’10”), but after a successful Freshman track season, I decided to fully commit to running. 3 years and one All-State title later, I headed to Amherst College in MA, where I competed mostly in long distance events (3k, 5k, 10k). It was certainly a tumultuous four years (far too many injuries), but I was still lucky enough to have the opportunity to qualify for NCAA’s 3 times with my amazing teammates, and was the NESCAC 10k champion in 2015. After a year off from running to heal a bone spur, I’m finally ready to start training again!

SIB: As a mother-daughter duo who is passionate about healthy food, how do you think mothers can lead daughters to live a healthy life without being too strict or critical about health?

Beth: I think it is important to lead by example, and to not worry so much about food. If you are leading a healthy life in all ways: exercise, eating, mentally, you shouldn’t develop unhealthy relationships with food. It is ok to indulge a little and enjoy life if most of the time you are making the right choices for your body. When we are constantly trying to deprive ourselves of things, we are setting ourselves up for failure and unhappiness and this message gets passed on to others. I don’t always love how everything looks on me, but I also don’t talk about it in front of my daughter. I think a lot of mothers make this mistake of always saying that their thighs are too fat, or their butt is too big, or they ate too much, or they have too many wrinkles. Women judge themselves and each other a lot, and when we do this we are teaching our daughters to do this as well.

Lexi: Growing up in a world of omnipresent social media, where the “norm” is to be thin and beautiful, makes it difficult to avoid succumbing to the pressures of diets, fitness fads, etc. For people my age, I think it’s all the more important to have a strong mother figure in your life that steers you away from all of that online pressure. My mom has always emphasized health and strength over anything else, whether that meant getting enough sleep, or taking more rest days, or even treating myself to a massage every once in a while. It’s important to remind daughters that health and wellness is not about your physical appearance, and it’s certainly much more than dieting and eating the “right” foods.

SIB: What is your favorite plant based dessert and what is your favorite non-plant based dessert?

Our favorite plant based dessert is vegan cheesecake made with cashews. They’re actually pretty easy to make and are easy to customize with different fruits, chocolate, layering, etc. Our friends and family are always shocked to find out they’re eating cheesecake without any dairy!

Our favorite non-plant based dessert is probably anything covered in real caramel! It’s actually easy to make vegan caramel from coconut cream and it’s delicious, but it’s just not the same as the real thing!

SIB: What keeps you motivated to eat more plants and why do you think it’s important?

Beth: My mother, who passed almost 8 years ago, led a very unhealthy life. She had many health issues and many were self-induced from poor dietary and lifestyle choices. She was in and out of hospitals and nursing homes for the last 4 years of her life, and during that time I resolved that I would learn something from the experience. I ate very poorly during this time and my health suffered greatly. It motivates me to want to be as healthy as I can for my children so that they don’t have to live with the choices that I made.

Lexi: Every so often, I go through a period where I eat really unhealthy for a week or so (hello, vacation), and I’m always reminded afterwards why I need to eat more plants! My body simply feels better when I’m consuming more fruits and vegetables, and I’ve been sick enough times to know that I’d rather avoid the foods that disrupt my health. I’m a strong believer that everybody is different- the same thing that works for me may not work for someone else- but I think we can all agree that plants are a vital part of any diet.

SIB: What does living your healthiest life feel like?

Living our healthiest life feels like waking up and getting to do what makes us happy every day, and inspiring others to do the same for themselves. “Healthy” means something different to each person, and its definition changes and morphs over time. To me (Lexi), my healthiest life a year ago meant doing everything in my power to recover from an injury. Today, my healthiest life means doing what I can to reduce my stress, whether that means taking a day off or organizing my schedule. Whatever your current definition of “healthy” is, take time each day to make sure you’re doing what you can to make yourself happier and healthier.

 

Check out Lexi and Beth on Instagram: @superfoodrunner and stay tuned to Part 2 and Part 3 as Lexi and Beth share some great recipes and insight on how to incorporate more plants into your life!

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My Running Truth: Clairespiration

My name is Claire! I am a California based blogger, pursuing a career in clinical psychology. I am passionate about empowering women to love the skin they’re in and find inspiration in everyday life. I am happily married to the love of my life, Jonathan and we met volunteering in an orphanage in Africa 7 years ago! He’s English and I am American. We live in beautiful Santa Barbara, with our Australian shepherd pup Hadleigh, and cutie of a calico cat, Winnie.

 

She.is.beautiful: What inspired you to start running?

Claire: My journey with running started as a New Years resolution back in 2010. I had challenged myself to do things that scared me and were out of my comfort zone – and signed up for the Nike Women’s full marathon in San Francisco! It was a life changing experience and I was soon hooked!

Growing up I was an avid soccer player and basketball player – but running was always something I would dread. Marathon training changed everything for me. After a few weeks of pushing through and building my base mileage – each week’s new distance and achievement became addicting. I found the reward of seeing how capable and strong my body was and the satisfaction of reaching distances I never dreamed I’d be able to run! It was rewarding and I was hooked! I’ve since ran 26.2 x’s 2, and 13.1 x 10!

 

SIB: What has your journey in running taught you about yourself or life?

Claire: To me, running is very metaphorical of life. It teaches you that you can achieve anything if you put in the hard work and commitment. It’s taught me to truly love and honor my body – by fueling it right and training for success. It’s also given me such a joy and revelation of how beautiful life is – each and everyday. Something I’ve always appreciated about training runs (especially in Santa Barbara!) is that it encourages me to savor sunrises and sunset at the beach daily. It’s truly given me the gift of soaking up life and all its moments – AND strengthened my body and mind to live life fully and wholeheartedly. 💕

 

SIB: You are pretty involved with the Tone It Up community, how did that start and how have you used it to create your own community?

Claire: I found Tone It Up back in 2013 and have been an active member ever since! It’s a phenomenal group of women – who empower, encourage and support each other through daily workouts and nutrition support. My TIU bestie Amanda (@amanda_tiu_fit) and I were the founding leaders of our Santa Barbara community and have cultivated a beautiful sisterhood of TIU ladies here in SB. What’s special about this group is our heartbeat for active living – and yet, how the sweat sessions have turned into a sisterhood of friends. Our TIU SB fam has played a big part in my fitness journey and I am very grateful!  

 

SIB: How do you stay motivated to live your healthiest life?

Claire: For me, motivation to live a healthy life is essential. Because of my career in psychology, my heartbeat and profession is helping others live their healthiest life. Something I’ve learned though – is in order to empower others to live wholly – you have to fully embrace and love yourself first. For me, prioritizing my health is my biggest form of self-love each and everyday. Eating right fuels my body to be alert and present for my clients. Exercise and running daily keeps my body thriving and strengthened. And living my life aspiring for my healthiest self encourages me to foster an environment of health – whether emotionally, spiritually, intellectually or physically.

 

SIB: Fill in the blank, Running makes me feel______________.

Claire: Alive. Grateful. Strong. Beautiful. Confident. Happy.

 

SIB: When was the first year you did She.is.beautiful and why do you keep coming back?

Claire: I first ran She Is Beautiful in 2015. I was drawn in by the positive message of self love and women empowerment – and of course – the color pink! Of all the races I’ve run (and I’ve run a lot!) She Is Beautiful has been my favorite. Because to me, the race is so much more than 3 miles of beach views. It’s a race promoting a message of love, of sisterhood and encouragement. And it’s a message celebrating the beauty we each possess – so innately and unwaveringly.

Last year my English mother in law flew out to visit and ran it with me too! She even got a faster time than me.  We are making it a tradition – and she’s joining me and my TIU ladies again this year. It’s a special run. I encourage you if you’ve never done it to grab a sister, your mother or friend and do it together! I promise you won’t regret it. 😊

 

SIB: You are hosting a Tone It Up meet-up at She.is.beautiful this year, tell us more about this?

Claire: Yes! We are SO excited to be running the race again this year. We are hosting a BIG Tone It Up meet-up in conjunction with this year’s She Is Beautiful! We hosted one last year and it was a HUGE hit. We start the day bright and early and run the race together! And afterwards, spend the day brunching, wine tasting and having a girl’s day in Santa Barbara! It’s a TON of fun and a wonderful way to meet other Tone It Up ladies from all over California – or if you aren’t a TIU girl, to meet and enjoy the sisterhood of fitness sisters! All are welcome!!!

A bunch of us ladies ran the course last year and LOVED it and we are so excited to continue our now annual tradition. The She Is Beautiful race is one of a kind – and we are very excited to be a part of the big day!

Feel free to connect with me on Instagram (@clairespiration) or email: claire@clairespiration.com to learn more!

 

SIB: What does your healthiest self feel like?

Claire: To me, being healthy is loving who you are. Healthy isn’t always the food you eat or the workouts you do – it’s the thoughts you think, the people you surround yourself with and the goals you propel yourself towards. To be healthy, means to be wholly you. Fully and completely. And to love who you are – imperfections and all, knowing that those imperfections make you perfectly beautiful. Being healthy is accepting who you are loving every bit of it.

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5k Training & How to Stay Consistent

Hey Girl! Today we are kicking off the She.is.beautiful 5k 12 Week Training Plan created by Coach Mary. We are excited to share this journey with you! For some people 12 weeks seems like a long time to stick with a training plan. We get it- this may seem intimidating! But here’s the thing, Mary has created 3 different levels of training: Beginner, Intermediate, and Intermediate/Advanced. The beginner level is perfect for someone who has never trained for a 5k and those who don’t run regularly (if ever in the past!). Mary has put together some great tips on how to stay consistent over the next 12 weeks. Read below and if you choose to train along with us, be sure to tag us in your photos so we can follow your progress and share YOUR inspiration #UnleashYourBrave.

By Coach Mary of Train With Mary

Make it Part of Your Life

Routine

There are certain activities on our calendars that are fairly inflexible. For some of us, few things will get in the way of a doctor’s appointment or a hair cut. Try to see what you can do to put that similar sense of necessity when you highlight “run 3 miles!” on your calendar for the upcoming Monday.  Make an effort to write down your training details in advance: where & with whom you’re planning to meet, how far you plan to run and maybe a small goal for yourself for that day. Make a pact with yourself that if you write it down, it’s your plan and you will stick to it the best you can. Plan other activities around the allotted time you have carved out for yourself to run. After a few weeks, this “run” that’s peering at you from your calendar becomes a part of your routine. If your new routine is to run Wednesdays at 5pm, and your girlfriend wants to go out for happy hour, she’ll quickly learn that Thursdays are a good night to go out. Remind yourself that while your new routine might be a bit inconvenient at first, with consistency, it will become a positive and healthy part of your life.

 

Identify yourself as a runner

It’ll be much easier to stay consistent if you add “runner” to part of your identity. If you have signed up for a race, then you are a runner! Start to fold the term “runner” into your self-talk and your conversations with others. The more you think of yourself as a runner, the more you become a runner, and the more likely you are to weave the activity into the folds of your life. Suddenly when you say, “Guys, I gotta go! The trails are calling,” no one–including yourself–will be surprised by your prioritizing!

 

See the End Goal but Celebrate the Journey

 

Make Little Goals

When we aim for a challenging goal that’s weeks or months away, it’s easy to veer off course from our original routine because the ultimate goal just feels so far away. Suddenly “I’m just going to take a week off running because the race is three months away” turns to two weeks, and then before you know it, September rolls around and we haven’t run! If the race feels far away, set yourself up for success so that you enjoy the journey along the way.  

 

If you make small goals along the way, they give you gratifying targets as you chart your course toward your goal. Make your goal a mileage goal (run one more mile this week than last), a time goal (I will set a personal best on my favorite weekly route), or a gratitude goal (I will write down three things I’m grateful for after each run this week). There are many ways to enjoy the journey with the end goal on the horizon. In the process, the journey becomes a part of the goal.

 

Reward Yourself

If we’re not enjoying the process, it’s a sure route to burn out. Reward yourself for creating a consistent routine and moving past your comfort zone. You should be proud! For me, the rewards are mostly intrinsic, but I also love to enjoy a good mocha and beach day after a long run. Whatever little things give you that extra motivation to get out the door, go for it. If your training plan is feeling like all work and no fun, then it’s time to reevaluate and make space for other parts of your life that bring you joy.

 

Learn to Pace

 

Listen to your body

One of the most challenging aspects of every level of runner is learning to pace properly. It’s common to go out for a run or race and after five minutes feel like you are so tired that you won’t be able to run another step, let alone finish. This is where the art of learning to “listen to your body” in training and racing comes into play. When your training plan calls for an “easy run,” do just that. Let it feel light and easy. Depending who you are and where you are in your running journey, it may mean that you are jogging eight minute mile pace or you are alternating one minute walks and one minute jogs. Embrace where you are and work from there. Begin to tune into yourself and get in touch with what your personal easy and hard paces feel like. Keep in mind that this is your running journey, so comparing your running to someone else’s will not enhance your experience. Find running friends who will support you where you are and cheer you along regardless of your pace.

 

Pacing

Certain workouts are challenging and require proper pacing. Learning to pace yourself will set you up for success on race morning. For example, if you are about to start hill repeats, after the first one, ask yourself if you can complete the entire session at that effort level. If you are way too tired to do even one more, you should adjust your pace accordingly. Workouts such a hills or intervals should feel challenging but attainable. Continually check in with yourself and assess if you are approaching a workout or long run at a sustainable pace. Over time, your endurance and speed will improve, but learning to pace properly is an essential component to seeing those gains.

 

Be patient and trust the process

Lastly, running is a journey, and hopefully a lifelong one if you so wish! With that in mind, aim for small improvements and be patient with yourself even if you hit roadblocks along the way. There will be days when a run that was easy last week feels impossible this week or a life event causes you to modify your schedule. As long as you remain consistent yet flexible and patient yet persistent, you will set yourself up for a successful journey toward your Santa Barbara She.is.beautiful 5k goals.

 

You can do this!

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Finding Her Strength: Part 1

How a running injury actually stepped up my fitness game.

By: Katie Gott, Group Fitness Instructor and Running Coach, Community Coordinator for She.is.beautiful

 

Take a peek at your favorite running magazine or blog, and you will surely see a write up on the benefits of cross training. Cross Train for injury prevention! Cross Train to spice up your running routine! Prevent boredom and burnout! It’s Fun!

Well, I’m here to tell you they’re right! We all love running – it sets us free and immerses us in nature. But, to be real, it’s a very repetitive movement pattern with a high amount of impact between your body and the ground. And for everyone from beginners to experienced runners, that can take a toll.

Let’s flash back to my first year out of college. I grew up playing sports, and always did a little recreational running, but I never considered myself a ‘runner’. Fresh out of college, I was acclimating to being in the work force full-time as a journalist, learning to be an ‘adult’ and finding balance and identity in the next phase of life. After a few months of spending more time than I’d like at a desk in an office, I was persuaded by a co-worker to join a co-ed running team. “It’ll be fun! All levels welcome,” he said. When I showed up to the first run, I found myself as the only woman surrounded by male runners who all ran competitively in high school and college. I was way out of my league but I gave it my best shot. That first season on the team fast tracked my fitness, stepped up my running game… and left me with my first running injury – a VERY aggravated IT band that hurt every time I ran. I felt defeated. I had just started to feel like a runner, but now I couldn’t run. What should I do?

I decided to seek help at my local gym. I met with a personal trainer who suggested that Spinning and Strength Training classes would be good options to maintain my fitness level while taking a break from the impact of running and allowing my injury to heal.

Spin Class Day #1: I entered class as the new girl, with no water bottle and no towel. Despite being totally unprepared, I walked in feeling self-assured that I was a runner, how hard could riding on a stationary bike for an hour be? Famous last words. The workout was brutal and amazing, my legs and lungs burned, sweat was pouring and my endorphins were through the roof. The feeling of driving the pedals for an hour required a different kind of strength and determination….and I liked it. Plus, the music was pumpin’!

Body Pump Class Day #2: I couldn’t tell you the last time I had picked up a dumbbell, let alone a barbell. Getting out on the gym floor amongst the guys was intimidating and un-motivating to me, so I headed into a class called Body Pump. Body Pump is a 60-minute high-rep weight training program using a barbell (and I would later find out the most popular group fitness program world-wide). Whoa! After my first class, every single muscle group was sore. I was hooked! There was so much potential for me to get stronger. And if I got stronger, maybe my running would improve too.

I realized something very quickly after that first week in the gym. Fitness comes in all forms. There are so many different outlets to move your body and sweat. I felt a conviction that I needed to diversify my fitness, that I wanted to be strong in different ways to keep myself injury free for the long haul. I also realized that as my body got stronger, so did my mind. Running is my first love, but now I have many loves. Those first group fitness classes, that first running injury, changed the course of my life. Within a year, I became a certified group fitness instructor, and within 2 years I left the journalism field to work full time in the fitness industry as a manager and coach. If moving my body in new ways and getting stronger changed my life, I wanted to help others do the same. To feel strong. To feel empowered. To feel confident. Mentally and physically. To run, ride, lift and move better. In a supported, group setting.

Now, let’s flash forward over a decade. At 36 years old, I am NOW in the best running shape of my life. I am injury free. I run, I spin, I strength train and I do Yoga. I am strong. Find your strong. Strong is beautiful.

Katie SUP Kauai

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Stay tuned for the next installment of Finding Her Strength, where Katie shares her top 4 cross training must-dos to complement your running routine. Find out some of her favorite moves and favorite tunes to move to!

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Improve How You Move: Part 1

Calling all runners and walkers who want to avoid injuries and get stronger! Sara, our Assistant Race Director is also a Doctor of Physical Therapy with some really great knowledge that she would like to share with you!  Stay tuned for upcoming posts in this series to learn more about how to improve your form and fitness to prevent injuries and have more fun. If you are like me, when people mention “form” and “mechanics” I stop paying attention, but hold up sister we’ve got photos so listen up because your body deserves to move better!

 

You know the way you notice your friend or family members from a distance away by the way they move? Or you can see your running partner’s form your head?  Those little “seasonings” we add to running or walking postures to truly make them our own.  As a runner and physical therapist, observing running form is a super nerdy past time of mine.  I watch everyone from kids on the playground to athletes at the Olympics.  While I love individual style when it comes to fashion, I truly believe that in order to be efficient runners (i.e. those who don’t get injured, can run for a lifetime and those who can go the fastest or longest) our running style should be pretty much the same.  Think about animals: barring a major injury, wouldn’t you say that all cows run the same?  Lions? Chickens? Cats? The list goes on.  Why then, as humans, would we believe that running in a non-ideal form is healthy for our bodies and the way to run our fastest times?  Are you hunched over?  Do your heels hit your opposite inner calves when you running leaving mud stains?  Do your knees knock together? Does anything HURT during or after your run?  These are all things we want to change.

I believe that ideal running form embodies a state where your muscles are at their best potential to create the most power possible and your joints are being loaded evenly.  In the absence of it, injuries can develop and goals cannot be reached.   It is the difference between riding a bike with a flat tire and a bike with freshly pumped tires….which would you choose?!

In the coming months, I will be discussing different parts of ideal running position and breaking down the common mistakes that I see, the injuries it can cause and simple ways to improve it.

 

Part 1:  Center of Mass (Real Talk:  Where gravity pushes your body weight)

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely hated physics.  At the time, it seemed so abstract and inapplicable.  That is, until I realized how it affects the human body.  When we run, we are, in the simplest form, moving a weight (our bodies) through space, which takes energy (hello multiple spoonfuls of peanut butter eaten in front of the fridge).  When running on Earth, we also have to deal with gravity.  

Do this simple exercise with me to feel how body position has an affect on how easy or hard movement is:  sit in a chair and WITHOUT LEANING FORWARD, try to stand straight up.  Then, sit in a chair and LEAN FORWARD before standing up.  Was the first condition next to impossible?  That’s because your weight was all behind you, forcing you to work extremely hard to accomplish the task at hand (aka:  your body weight was in your butt and not in your feet).

In running, the same thing can happen!  

How it makes us get hurt:

When weight is too far back, the force which we hit the ground becomes seriously magnified, leading to injuries all up the body:  plantar fasciitis, patellar tendonitis, knee and hip joint degeneration, hip labral tears and spinal injuries.  Heck, it exasperates bladder and bowel leaking, due to the increased force placed on the pelvic floor.  

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How it makes us slower:

When our weight is too far back, it also makes us have to work harder (just like you felt during the chair experiment) to move our body through space.  Also, when our weight is behind us, our feet tend to land out in front of us, which essential turns into a kind of “brake” with every step we take.

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How we can fix it:

  • Stand and try to center your body weight right behind the ball of the foot.  For most people, this will require them to slightly lean forward FROM THE ANKLES.  This may feel very unnatural, as many of us are accustomed to excessive weight in our heels.
  • Start running and add this slight forward lean.  You should feel your speed immediately increase naturally and your feet start to land more underneath your body.  You can also shift your gaze to a point on the ground 10 feet or so in front of you to make this happen naturally.  
  • In addition to leaning slightly forward, you should be growing tall through the top of your head the entire time with your ribcage relaxed down, NOT growing tall by lifting your ribcage (more on this later).  

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Here’s to getting faster, stronger and being able to run forever!

Sara

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Sara Tanza PT, DPT, CFMT  is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and the Assistant Race Director for She.is.beautiful 5k & 10k.  

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