Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Turkey Time - Threepeat

It seems like this is becoming a holiday tradition for me, so I figured ... why not post again for 2015? 

Given the upcoming holiday, I'll be taking Thursday off to enjoy the feast.  See you next week.

Happy Thanksgiving!!


Well, folks - it's hard to believe it, but it's almost Turkey time.  I can't even believe summer is over yet, let alone knowing the winter holiday season is just around the corner. 

Man, the older I get, the faster time flies.  And I'm only in my 30's.  What will happen when I'm 60?!  Scary.

Anyway, with Thanksgiving on the brain, I know what many of you are likely thinking right now...

First of all, of course this:

Then, this:

Eventually leading to this:

And finally, the next day, this:

Good food.  Social gatherings.  Eating, eating and more eating.  It's the happiest time of the year, no?

Yes, and ... it's also one of the highest calorie times of the year.  Check this out:

Gah!  Can you believe the average Thanksgiving day of eating is equal to consuming 8.33 big macs?  So gross!!

OK, ok let's move on to the meat (turkey??) of the discussion: the challenge - how do you enjoy all that Thanksgiving has to offer without putting your hard work of staying fit to waste?  Or, in this case, to waist... har-dee-har-har.

It's really pretty easy if you spend a little time thinking before you eat.  In fact, with a few simple tricks, you can enjoy all the tastes of Thanksgiving without overdoing it. 

Here's how.

(1) Mindful choices
Yes, Turkey and gravy and mashed potatoes made with cream & butter, and pie and... well, EVERYTHING is just so delicious.  But, why not enjoy them along with some healthy food choices to help keep your overall intake down?  After all, if you're filling your stomach and your plate with some lower calorie choices, you're less likely to over indulge in the high calorie stuff. 

Here's a plating example from the ADA that doesn't have to apply just to diabetics... notice how much of the plate is covered by low calorie, high fiber vegetables:

(2) Portion control
Yep, I've already talked about portion control in the past, and you can read about that here.  But portion control becomes even more important on the days when you're really likely to overdo it with rich foods and desserts. 

Check out these interesting comparisons for serving size:

And here's the kicker when it comes to portion control... remember that 4500 calorie average above?  Well, with proper portions, and limiting your additional snacking and desserts, your caloric intake can be much more reasonable.  Look at this:

*Total of food shown is 715 calories, leaving room
for a modest serving of pie within the 1000 calorie mark.

(3) Keeping Active

Of course, after eating even a reasonable meal like the example above, there is going to be a little work to do.  So, time to pay penance. 

If you were smart, you may have ran a 5K/10K race the morning of Thanksgiving - if you did, congrats, because you already burned anywhere between 300-700 calories.  Good job!  With a reasonable plate of food like the above, I would say you're done.  Enjoy the holiday and camaraderie, and don't give yourself any grief about enjoying the day.

If you didn't run a Drumstick Dash or Turkey Trot, you should STILL enjoy the day.  And maybe the next day, make an effort to burn a few extra calories from the meal.  I know this example speaks to french fries versus a Thanksgiving meal, but I like the variety of activities it offers ... and maybe it will spark an idea in you:

And, I guess, that's about it!  Try to fill your plate with healthy options, practice portion control, and get in a good workout post-celebration.  If you can make those few easy adjustments to your holiday, being thankful will be a whole lot easier.  After all, I already know what I'm thankful for:

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The American Diet - 100 years

I recently came across this Huffington Post article showcasing dinners in America over the last 100 years.  Starting in 1915, the video features popular meal options that were commonly eaten approximately every decade.

The video is interesting, and totally worth the 3 minutes it takes to watch.

But of course, I have to highlight one thing.

Any wonder why there's an obesity epidemic stemming from the ongoing diet habits we began adapting in the 80s?  LOL!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Finally - Documentation

For those of you who missed it last week, I implore you to read the expose a local news company did about Team Ortho.  If you're short on time, I've highlighted the most disturbing facts in yellow below.


Running for a cause?
Financial questions raised about popular races

Non-profit Team Ortho runs several popular races including the Monster Dash, but where does the money go?

Steve Eckert and A.J. Lagoe, Investigative Reporter

MINNEAPOLIS - A Minnesota-based non-profit organization that claims it is "Helping Research One Race at a Time" actually donates only about a penny-and-a-half for every dollar it raises for medical research, according to financial records obtained by KARE 11 News.

Team Ortho Foundation

Team Ortho Foundation sponsors some of the most popular running events in the Twin Cities. Their races include the just-completed "Monster Dash" on Halloween, the "Polar Dash" in January, the "Get Lucky" race in March, and "Women Rock" in August.

Team Ortho also sponsors similar races in Chicago and Dallas-Ft. Worth.

During public address announcements at its races – and in postings on its website – Team Ortho says it supports orthopedic research with donations to Shriners Hospital and other groups involved in orthopedic research.

"We raise money for Orthopedic research," said Team Ortho founder and executive director John Larson. "We make gifts to places like Shriner's Hospital for Children, which is an orthopedic hospital."

But former employees at the Team Ortho Foundation question how much money is actually going to medical research.

On a rainy Halloween morning, an estimated 18,000 people – many in colorful costumes – turned out for "Monster Dash" in St. Paul.

It's one of the biggest running events of the year.

If the runners think much of their entry fees are going to orthopedic research, former employees say they're wrong, and they blame Larson, the driving force behind Team Ortho.

"He was using it like his own personal checkbook and that to me was wrong," said Kean Corkery. He's one of the former Team Ortho employees who told KARE 11 they quit in disgust.

Megan Johnston and Isaac Milkey also told us they walked away after questioning how much money was really going to research.

"We raise so much money throughout the year, and seeing that little or none goes back to charities is – just doesn't sit right," said Milkey.

So, how much race money is going to research? To find out, KARE 11 checked the IRS forms all non-profit organizations have to file.

The most recent report shows that in 2013 Team Ortho brought in $4,362,877. Of that, what went to charities like Shriners Hospital was just $72,700.

A year earlier, it was a similar story. Of $3,599,851 raised, just $36,550 trickled down to charity.

Do the math. The average amount going to charity is just a penny and a half out of every dollar raised.

"That's pretty horrible," said runner Anne Pavel. "Like not expecting that at all."

It surprised other Monster Dash runners, too. Call it more trick than treat.

"Yah, that's not good," said Allie Henning. "That doesn't make me feel good about running."

Eric Sand said that when he and his wife signed up, "They told us – whether we do it or not – the money goes for a good cause."

"I understand the cost behind the race," added Pavel, "but it just kind of makes you wonder who's getting all that extra money."

Reporter A.J. Lagoe put that question to Team Ortho Executive Director John Larson.

Lagoe: "Why such a low percentage?"

Larson: "Oh, because we put it into the races - and the gear - to get people out."

Larson says encouraging people to be active is Team Ortho's primary goal. Doing that by organizing races is expensive, he explained. And so is the custom gear runners get and the medals waiting for each person at the finish line.

Trips to China

But former employees blame some of that cost on mismanagement. For example, they say fancy running gear was sometimes ordered so late that instead of just shipping it, teams of employees had to fly to China to hand carry it back.

"Your sole purpose of being there was to carry items back?" one former employee asked another.

"Yah, just another body. Pack mule," replied Isaac Milkey.

John Larson admits that's happened. "There's times that the only way to get the gear in time for the race is to send people over in order to bring them back," he told us.

But some trips to China to bring back customized Team Ortho outfits sound more like all expense paid vacations.

"We saw the Great Wall, the Forbidden City," Milkey remembers. "We just went around and had a list of things we wanted to see – and we went and did them."

He says he and several other Team Ortho employees spent three days in China doing nothing but sight-seeing before carrying back the merchandise.

"I didn't bring any of my own money at all," he told KARE 11. "So anything we wanted to do was on Team Ortho's dime."

In all, the former employees claim that in recent years, Larson, the executive director, personally took as many as a dozen trips a year overseas in recent years. Some of them are documented with personal photos on his Facebook page.

All of them, former employees say, were paid for with money that could have helped children with orthopedic problems.

When asked about those trips, Larson didn't offer any explanation.

Lagoe: "Going overseas, staying in lavish hotels, all billed to team Ortho. Can you tell us why that's necessary?"

Larson: "I can't comment on that."

Lagoe: "You can't tell us why so many trips?"

Larson: "I can't comment on that."

F rating at BBB

Check with the Better Business Bureau and you'll discover Team Ortho gets an "F" rating because of multiple complaints.

What's more, KARE 11 has learned that Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is looking into Team Ortho after a complaint from former employee Kean Corkery raising concerns about financial irregularities. About Larson Kean wrote, "He seems to be running a 501c3 as if were his own personal checkbook."

Swanson's office recently took action against other non-profits with low donation percentages.

Lagoe: "Have you been contacted by the Attorney General at all recently?"

Larson: "I can't comment."

Lagoe: "You can't say, yes or no, that you've spoken to the Attorney General?

Larson: "I can't comment."

As we began investigating Team Ortho's races and John Larson, the man who runs them, we noticed one other interesting thing.

Larson says he's not handicapped. But KARE 11 watched as he got into and drove away in a Lincoln with a handicapped license plate. It was from Arizona – and it had expired in July, 2014.

Lagoe: "We just got complaints that, you know, here's this guy running a multi-million dollar organization, driving around in a car with handicapped plates that are – have been expired for a year and a half."

Larson: "Yah. Regretfully, I need to change those."

So, if you're just interested in some exercise and some fun, the Team Ortho races are obviously popular.

But if you're concerned about how much of your money is actually going to medical research, check out Team Ortho's financial reports.

And, in this season of giving, the Minnesota Attorney General has recommendations on ways you can check on your favorite charities on their website.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Giving Birth to a Yeti

I realized the other day that I haven't said much on this blog about my pregnancy since mentioning I was pregnant a few weeks ago.  Though it didn't seem like a big deal to me to keep quiet as I feel like it's kind of a private situation and doesn't really need to be blabbed about on social media, being that I have a bad history in regards to pregnancy, my lack of discussion made a few people nervous and afraid to ask what's going on.

So let me clear the air ...

Yes!  I am happy and healthy and pregnant!!  In fact, I just cleared 16 weeks this past Friday.  So I am officially 4 months pregnant and well into my 2nd trimester.

Technically, this is me a week or two prior to
the 4 month mark, but you get the idea.
"Bascom Baby", Madison, WI

And also ... Yes!  I am still working out as much as I can, although at a lower intensity and with some modifications when moves don't feel quite right.  For me these days, modifications mean things like: less running, more lower impact cardio, less forward folding, keeping up with swimming, and going a little lighter in terms of weight when choosing my dumbbells for the day. 

And for the record ... No.  I don't know what I'm having yet, though I'm looking forward to finding out.  I'll be 20 weeks in early December, so I see a special gift from Santa coming on the horizon.  A boy?  A girl?  We will see!

That all being said, on the downside of being pregnant, I feel like I have heartburn like ... All.  The.  Time.  And no matter what I eat, it seems to come and go as it feels fit.  Hence my latest trip to Costco.


And yes.  That is an economy pack of chocolate chip cookies.  I like them right now, ok?!

Speaking of eating while pregnant, apparently a "new" study released has people all wound up about Starbucks Cups maternity diet habits in the US.  The article I read was titled New Study Reveals What Half of Pregnant Moms Have Too Much of And People Are Not Happy About It.

Of course, I took the bait and read the article.  And afterwards I was like ... are you serious?!  People are really upset about this?

Here's the scoop: approximately half of pregnant women in the US are eating too much.  No surprise there, right?  There's a reason we have an obesity epidemic here, and let me tell you, it's not just pregnant women who are eating too much.


So, the article says pregnant women in the US are eating too much.  Which means they're gaining too much weight.  Again, no surprise there.  You eat too much, you gain weight.  Action meet consequence.

The article continued on to mention national guidelines for weight gain and caloric intake in pregnancy.  The same guidelines I am following per my doctor's office RIGHT NOW AS I AM PREGNANT. 

The guidelines mentioned in the article are as follows:

  • “Unusually thin” women: gain between 30 to 40 pounds
  • Normal weight: gain 25 to 35 pounds
  • Overweight women: gain 15 to 25 pounds
  • Obese women: gain 10 to 20 pounds
  •  Pregnant women only need 350-450 extra calories per day (which I actually think is too high, since everything else I read says 300, and actually 200 or less if you're overweight prior to becoming pregnant)

  • Using these guidelines, I am pretty much right on to where I need to be.  And while I haven't had any SUPER CRAZY urges to eat yet and am only at week 16ish, I can somewhat confidently say ... I haven't felt deprived or hungry yet either.

    Well, strike that.  I feel hungry a lot.  But then I eat ... reasonably (at least most of the time anyway, just ignore that economy pack of chocolate chip cookies I took a photo of up there) ... and then I feel fine.

    So you can see why I walked away from this article somewhat rolling my eyes already, and I haven't even gotten to telling you the best part.  Because here's where it gets good.  They continued on in the article to say that by publishing the above guidelines, many people feel the CDC is body shaming pregnant women.

    Uh ... what?!

    I read the article like 10 times trying to figure out how the hell publishing a healthy guideline for weight gain in pregnancy is body shaming.  I mean ... did I miss the part of the guideline where it said "and any woman who gains anything outside of these guidelines shall be tormented daily and lashed 30 times with a wet noodle"? 

    Or maybe the people upset missed the entire part of pregnancy called "Risks and DEATH"?!

    So of course, I couldn't help but post a comment on the Facebook thread where I originally discovered the article.  Which yes, was posted by George Takei:

    Ok.  Maybe I should have just bitten my tongue and moved on.  But I just couldn't. 

    Hopefully that doesn't come back to bite me, too.  LOL!


    What are your thoughts on the CDC pregnancy weight gain guidelines?  Do they encourage body shaming?  Did you try to adhere to them in your pregnancy?  Feel free to comment below.

    Thursday, November 5, 2015

    All for the Medal

    Last weekend, on Halloween, my local gym had their second annual Skeleton Run.  Which you may recall I played quite a hand in (via my 2014 post).

    Unfortunately, this year I was unable to attend due to work slave driving commitments.  But, I was still able to be involved in one small way:

    Ah!  Medals ... they seem to make runs more fun, don't they? 

    Speaking of medals, I read an article I read awhile back about race trends in regards to medals.  Unfortunately, now it looks like you have to subscribe to WSJ to read the article.  But if I recall correctly, the article talked about the impact medals have on racing, and the trend for things to be more and more ... bling'd out.  If that's even a word.  Heh.

    The article went on to talk about how some races are failing simply because they DON'T offer a medal, and called out specific races that people are drawn to simply because of the medal (and not even for the actual event itself).

    Hm.  Nope.  I've never done such a thing.

    After I read the article, I had mixed thoughts. 

    Really?  Is that all it takes to get someone to run?  A cheap finisher's medal, and not even one you have to really WORK for (since it's not denoting first place or anything like that)?

    Is this an extreme case of the delicate snowflakes where everyone needs a participation trophy?

    But the more I thought about it, the more I thought ... so what?  I mean, who cares what the motivation is for someone to participate in a race if it means they're being active?  With the obesity epidemic we have, shouldn't we just be grateful people are out there and moving? 

    Plus, let's face it.  You run a race and it's fun.  But you run a race and get a sweet medal?  Even better.

    Not that I HAVE to get a medal to run a race.  But it does kind of make it fun.  Especially when you start to accrue a collection.

    So yes.  I like medals.  And I sometimes run races just to get them.  Get over it.

    Thursday, October 29, 2015

    Recipe: Delicious Hot Breakfast - Slow Cooker Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oats

    Happy National Oatmeal day!

    I bet you didn't know today was reserved just for oatmeal, did you?  I sure didn't.  But with cool fall weather here, and wanting to eat warm things more often, the timing seems about right.

    In honor of the holiday, I thought I'd share a slow cooker recipe I found a few years ago that's both healthy and delicious.  Enjoy!


    Slow Cooker Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oats



    • 2 apples, cored and diced into 1/2 or smaller pieces (or go for more - it's healthy anyway!!)
    • 1 and 1/2 cups almond milk
    • 1 and 1/2 cups water
    • 1 cup uncooked steel cut oats
    • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or similar sweetener, maple syrup for example)
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • Chia seeds, to taste (optional, ground flax seeds are also a nice addition)
    • Optional additions - raisins, walnuts, etc.


    1. Coat inside of 3-1/2 quart or larger slow cooker with a non-stick substance (butter, coconut oil, non-stick spray, etc).  **FYI - I own a larger, oval crock pot, so I made a double of the above which filled my crock quite well.  I also mixed half regular oats and half steel cut to make for a more "traditional" looking oatmeal.

    2. Add all ingredients to slow cooker. Stir, cover, and cook on low for approximately 7 hours.  Longer for a double batch.  Make sure you check the oats visually after 5-6 hours of cooking - slow cooker times can vary.

    3. When oats are done cooking, spoon oatmeal into bowls, add extra toppings if desired (extra raisins, nuts, more apples, etc), and enjoy.

    4. Store leftovers in refrigerator. Also freezes well.  To reheat single servings: Put 1-cup cooked oatmeal in microwave proof bowl. Add 1/3 cup almond milk. Microwave on high for 1 minute; stir. Continue cooking for another minute, or until hot.

    Approximate Nutritional Info (per 3/4 cup serving): 149 calories, 3.6g fat, 27.3g carbs, 3.9g fiber, 4.9g protein; Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 4 pts