Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Turkey Time - Repeat

Just before Thanksgiving last year, I posted the below. 

Since a year has passed, but the info is still relevant, why not revisit?

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:

Monday, November 24, 2014

Product Review: Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Lotion, Fragrance Free

As I mentioned a week or so back, I was chosen by Influenster recently to do a review on some lotion.

Yes, I have to admit: being a fitness / wellness focused blog, it may seem a little odd to throw a lotion review into the mix.  But hang with me here:

      You work out a lot?  Check.
      You shower a lot?  Check.
      You have dry, winter skin as a result?  Check.

Yep, I hit all three.  And I have check mark #3 REALLY bad right now, being that the air temps are dropping to the 20/30s now in my area.

*Warning - depressing note: some nights we're even in the teens or lower now.  (Silent scream)

Anyway, given my winter skin has been itching like CRAZY lately, I thought I'd give this lotion a go.



A week or two after I had been notified my sample was shipped, I came home to see this box in the mail:


I was a little surprised the box wasn't more notable, since it kind of blended in with my other mail.  The only thing that made it stand out was the label on the back:

That was OK, though, because... this:

Oh, and this:

Yeah, it may seem weird, but it's a dry skin tester.  LOL!  One of the postcards in the box included some peel and stick strips to test how dry your skin was pre/post lotion application. 

I screwed my first one up on the "pre" test, so did the "pre" test twice and didn't do a post.  Whoops.  Oh well.  Either way, I did get some not so surprising results:

You might not be able to tell in that photo, but I'm between dry and super dry.  No surprises there.

Ok, let's start lotioning.


Day One

I decided to apply the lotion ASAP on Tuesday night.  Like I said above, I've been having terribly itchy, dry skin lately - especially on my shins (I always seem to get that this time of year - you know the kind, once you itch you cant stop?  Yeah, that).  I wanted to see how the lotion would help with that.

I was impressed that the extreme desire to itch subsided almost immediately.  Plus, the lotion sunk right in and I didn't feel super greasy afterwards.  Win!


Days Two-Five

Since I wanted to give this lotion a fair go, I decided that beyond treating just my super dry areas with this lotion, that I would do a full body application post shower ... when I could, anyway - some days I got rushed and didn't have time.  In doing so, I learned that a full application probably wasn't necessary for my skin type; while some areas of my skin loved the hydration, other areas where my skin wasn't super dry ended up feeling a bit over saturated (and I noticed a some breakouts a few days later, more on this in bit). 

Overall, though, my skin was starting to look better and itch way less, too.  Hooray!


My Overall Thoughts

I've been using this lotion now, off and on (meaning - not daily), for a couple of weeks.  Obviously this means that it works and it's pretty OK, or I wouldn't keep coming back, right?  Right.

I do also want to say that it's a pretty big deal that I'm still using this lotion simply due to my sensitive skin.  I have a tendency to break out when I use certain lotions on my skin, especially when they are really rich, winter hydration types of lotions.  This lotion did make me break out ... but only on the places where I was already pretty "normal"; on the areas where I was super dry and itchy - no issues with breakouts.  That tells me it was just too heavy for my non-dry skin.

And now, rather than droning on (this is a lotion review after all), let's just cut to some bullet points.

Things I like about this lotion:

- Hydrates immediately
- Takes away winter itch
- No greasy feeling
- Affordable price point

Things I don't like about this lotion:

- Unscented (I prefer something with a scent to it)
- Too rich for all over, daily application
- Could use more naturally based ingredients

So what says the great Oz Natalie?  Given that this lotion can take away my winter itchy skin and not cause breakouts, I'm guessing the bottle will likely stay in my mix of lotions for some time to come.  But will be used in limited applications, to avoid the breakout issue.

**I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.  All opinions expressed are my own, and were not influenced by any other incentives or people.**

Friday, November 21, 2014


As I've mentioned for the last couple of months on here, I've been carrying a few extra pounds that I'm really not fond of.  And, for the longest time, I felt like I couldn't do much about it because of my stupid feet.

But, I finally came to the conclusion that I needed to get off my ass and get moving.  Enough excuses.

Step one - sign up for Insanity.

I'm sure most of you have heard of this workout by now.  It's the one where you do moves like this for pretty much 45 minutes straight:

And then you end the session something like this.

Yeah, that kind of Insanity. 

I decided to sign up for this because - 1, well duh.  And 2, I needed something to push me beyond my limits again.  Since I haven't been training for any specific race goal lately, I'm having a hard time finding motivation to really push hard in a workout.

So now, here I am.  Every Tuesday and Thursday for the last three weeks, my alarm has gone off at 4:30 am, and I've hauled my sorry ass down to the gym to get it handed right back to me.  It's been a real treat.

LOL, just kidding, it's been a real bitch.  And sweaty, too.

But doing it has really helped my mental attitude.  I know I'm doing something for myself that's good for me.  And amazingly, my feet seem to be getting better despite the extra activity (but to be fair, I am modifying quite a bit, given I teach Tuesday/Thursday evening and can't have a gangsta limp for my classes).

The only down side to Insanity is that I am killer hungry all day long afterwards. 

So now I have to be really careful that I don't undo all my hard work by turning around and stuffing my face all day.


I'll let you know how THAT works out.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Women Shouldn't Bike, But If They Do...

In a follow up to my previous post, check out these rules as to how women "should" bike if they choose to do so.

A few of my favorites:

Don’t go to church in your bicycle costume. (OK, seems logical.)

Don’t scream if you meet a cow. If she sees you first, she will run. (Fair enough.)

Don’t discuss bloomers with every man you know. (Uh… I don’t do this anyway but … ok?)

Don’t go without a needle, thread and thimble. (Wait, why would I need this on a bike ride?)

Don’t attempt a “century.” (Because only men can bike 100+ miles… even though they’re the ones with the physical makeup that is much more uncomfortable to do so?)

Don’t boast of your long rides. (Oh, got it. Just in case you DO attempt a century, and actually finish it, when a man did not.)

Don’t race. Leave that to the scorchers. (AKA the men? Screw that.)

Don’t criticize people’s “legs.” (But that’s the best part about biking – getting amazing quads and comparing!!)

Don’t wear loud hued leggings. (AAAAAaaaannnd, I’m out.)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Women Shouldn't Bike

Ages ago, I posed this blog about women and running. which touched on the concern about how ... you know ... my vagina might fall out while running.

Well, a few weeks back I stumbled across another article about how women weren't supposed to bike, either.  Here are some fun snippets, or feel free to read the entire article yourself via the link above.


Some late 19th century doctors warned that — especially for women — using the newfangled bicycle contraption could lead to a threatening medical condition: bicycle face.

What was bicycle face?

"Over-exertion, the upright position on the wheel, and the unconscious effort to maintain one's balance tend to produce a wearied and exhausted 'bicycle face,'" noted the Literary Digest in 1895. It went on to describe the condition: "usually flushed, but sometimes pale, often with lips more or less drawn, and the beginning of dark shadows under the eyes, and always with an expression of weariness." Elsewhere, others said the condition was "characterized by a hard, clenched jaw and bulging eyes."

Why was women biking REALLY a problem?

In 1890s Europe and the US, bicycles were seen by many as an instrument of feminism: they gave many women a measure of increased mobility, began to redefine Victorian ideas about femininity, and were eagerly taken up by many women active in the suffrage movement. Bikes helped stoke dress reform movements, which aimed to reduce Victorian restrictions on clothes and undergarments so that women could wear clothes that allowed them to engage in physical activities.

Thank goodness, someone saw the light:

In 1897, The Phrenological Journal quoted Chicago doctor Sarah Hackett Stevenson putting the issue to rest: "[Cycling] is not injurious to any part of the anatomy, as it improves the general health. I have been conscientiously recommending bicycling for the last five years," she said. "The painfully anxious facial expression is seen only among beginners, and is due to the uncertainty of amateurs. As soon as a rider becomes proficient, can gauge her muscular strength, and acquires perfect confidence in her ability to balance herself and in her power of locomotion, this look passes away."

Friday, November 14, 2014

I Must Ask You a Question

Ah, another about me post.

Yep!  I've done a handful of about me posts since I started this blog.  Usually I don't like to talk about myself too personally on here (rather, I prefer to focus on my thoughts about a particular race or health/wellness topic), but I do occasionally mention something about myself just to mix it up. 

So, today is going to be one of those mix-it-up days.

BTW, if you ever want to read other posts about me, just use the search bar up above and type in "Three Things".  Most of my about me posts are centered around three questions and can be found under that subcategory.  Plus, it's way easier to make YOU search than linking to all of them here.  So there.
Anyway, here goes.  Three things (times 12).


Three names that people call me, other than my real name:

1. Nat - I hate this one BTW.  I am not a bug (gnat).  And also, I used to get called "Fat Nat".  Just bad associations all around.

2. Unicorn / Unicobb - Whee!  I'll take it.

3. The Devil - if you don't want to sweat, don't take my class.  You're doing it to yourself.

Three jobs I have had:

You know enough about my professional life.  How about some jobs of the Unicobb's past?

1. Ride operator at Camp Snoopy (Mall of America)
                  Yeah, I ran THE MIGHTY AXE.  BOOM!

2. Old timey soda jerk
                  Apparently the place has an infomercial now, check it out.

3. College cafeteria dish room
                  You know the conveyor you put your dirty tray on?  Yeah, that.  Blech. 
                   At least the dish sanitizer steamed a lot - kind of like a free facial, right? 

Three movies I’ve watched more than once:

1. Strange Brew

2. Idiocracy

3. Half Baked

Three books I’d recommend:

Whoops.  I need more culture.  It's been awhile since I've read anything of true substance (as opposed to goofy teen lit).  Fail.

Three places I have lived:

1. Tianjin, China - highschool study abroad, 3 months at Nankai University.
2. Madison, WI - only the best Big 10 college around of course.
3. St. Paul, MN - where I was born and raised.

Three places I have been:

1. The British Virgin Islands - on the most beautiful sailing vacation ever!!!
2. Victoria, BC, Canada - huh, another sailing trip.  Well, it's a fun town none the less.
3. Chicago, IL - I put this one on here because I love going back to visit (and eat the pizza), and it's attainable to do on a regular basis.

Three places I’d rather be right now:


Did I mention a polar vortex is blowing through Minnesota, and it's early November?  :-(

Three things I don’t eat:

1. Lake fish - I just don't enjoy the flavor.
2. Cucumber - the slimy texture and flavor combo just isn't for me.
3. Soda - I've tried to eliminate all soda, including diet, from my daily intake.  It forces me to drink more water, and helps keep my overall calorie (or chemical) consumption down.

Three of my favorite foods:

1. Nachos - but you likely already knew that.
2. Kale Chili - which apparently I never posted the recipe for on here.  That will change soon!
**correction, I DID post this, but for some reason it doesn't show up on my search engine from the blog - go here to check it out
3. Bananas - I eat at least one pretty much every day.

Three TV shows that I watch:

I try not to get sucked into TV shows that require a weekly tune-in and a specific time to sit on my ass and watch.  One, ain't nobody got time for dat.  Two, I'm too busy with work and the gym.  But let's not lie, I still indulge.  And for that, DVR, I am thankful.  Wahoo, fast forward commercials!!

1. American Horror Story - yes, this season is a little wacky, but I've loved it in the past.
2. Shark Tank - one of the few shows my husband and I enjoy together!!
3. Vampire Diaries / The Originals - they started from the same story line, so I'll lump them together.  Although, this show is starting to get old for me, so I'm not sure I'll watch it much longer.

Three things I am looking forward to this year:

It's November.  How about we change this to things I'm looking forward to do within one year's time?

1. Training for a half marathon again.  It's been far too long.
2. Starting a family.  God willing.
3. Taking some sort of trip - yet to be determined, but I need a vacation of course!

Three things I’m always saying:

Wow, this list should technically include a lot of swears.  I'll edit.

1. Dammit
2. Come on, let's go!  (Workout context)
3. I'm hungry

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hosting Donuts

This past weekend, my gym paired up with the run club from Twin Cities Running Company (TCRC) and did the annual season end celebration run - AKA, the Donut Run. 

So, you can pretty much guess what I was doing at 8 am Saturday morning.


How the Donut Run works: an organizer asks everyone in the run club(s) who live within reasonable running distance of the community center to host a "donut stop".  People volunteer.  The organizer then figures out how many "stops" would work along a reasonable running route, a route is announced, and everyone meets at the community center on a designated morning.

Bing-bang-boom, you've got a fun run.

The tough part about this run, though, is that every year you're subject to "stop" volunteers.  And, you have outliers like me who want to host and live sort of within running distance of the community center ... if you want to run 10+ miles, or don't mind taking a "shuttle" back to the start point.

Yeah, its a little tricky to set up this kind of run, but not impossible.

Anyway!  How did it all work out?

Well, this year we ended up with the following map, which was essentially a lollipop course. 

As you can see with the blue stars, there was one "stop" at the top of the sick (before you run the loop), and one "stop" at the top of the loop.  Basically, it shook out to be a 5 mile run with donut stops at roughly mile 1, 2.5 and 4.  Not too shabby!

If you have an eagle eye for the above, you can also see that this route is nowhere near where I live.  As such, you might be wondering, why was I out shopping for this?

Well, back when this run was first being discussed about a month or two earlier, I had offered to either host at my house, or show up at a park along the route - one ideally with picnic tables.  And, upon hearing that I wanted to host, my friend from the Bacon Chase race offered to help me.  I was stoked. 

Knowing the potential this opportunity provided (music, donuts... booze?!), I couldn't wait to host.

Unfortunately, though, once the route was announced, we realized we weren't exactly in a park.  Which meant we had to tone it down.  A lot.

Oh well, no worries.  We still had this:


Yes, that's right.  Full sized donuts, donut holes, chocolate covered mini donuts, mini cinnamon rolls, mini lemon poppy seed scones, cookies, tiny water bottles and "shots" of hot coffee, hot chocolate, or ... well just call that last thing "something else".

Since the run was set for 8:00 am, we expected to see our first few runners around 8:10 or 8:15, and of course - they were right on time.  (What would you expect from a run club that included the pacer I mentioned at the bottom of my Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon report?)  But they didn't hang around too long for the first stop, since they still had another 4 miles to go. 

That meant that by 8:20 or so, my partner and I were stuck freezing our asses off in a random parking lot with a tray of donuts in front of us.

Akward.  ;-)

No worries, we just passed the time by chatting ... and perhaps "sampling" some of the offerings at our own table.

Eventually, around 8:45 or so, the group made the loop back to us for the second go around.  This time, they had "warmed up" and were a little more ready to eat.  Case in point: one runner even braved a full sized donut!!

And of course, now that we were more jolly, we spent some time taking pictures.


Eventually the runners took off again.  But, I have to say, I was a tad disappointed.  As you can see in the photo above, our donut tray was still VERY full.  SHAME RUNNERS! (Just kidding).
On the flip side, our "something else" bottle was pretty much empty.  So, good job on that, folks.
And that was about it.
As we watched the runners scamper off, my friend and I packed up what was left of our "stop", said our goodbyes, and both headed for home.  Not even 9 am, and we had already had a full morning!!

Before I go, I should say how appropriate it is that I was able to be with my run club both this past weekend at the Donut Run, and the other weekend at the Skeleton Run. 

Why?  Because those two events basically sandwiched the window of when I would have given birth. (Based on when I got pregnant, I should have been due some time around Halloween or early November. Me with a Halloween baby. The costumes!!  Can you imagine a better match made in heaven?)  

Although I try not to make this a miscarriage blog, I want mention that I finally passed that major milestone. And it feels like a huge weight has lifted off my chest. 

I am also extremely glad I could do something FOR the run club this past weekend and host this donut station. 

Why?  Because even though I tired to live a normal life in May/June/July while I dealt with my loss (and tried to make sure my body had physically healed), I was actually surfing the edge of what could have been a massive depression spiral.   And the entire time, people in my run club were carrying me through with beer miles and half marathon relays and bacon chases ... most of them not even realizing the sanity they were embuing on me just by letting me feel normal. 
That sanity was my life line when others in my social network who knew about my loss were bitching about leaking windows or how I wasn't contributing enough to their personal lives.  And even more so my life line as the medical bills started rolling in and I thought I would lose it.  (Fun fact: if you get an ultrasound and find out you are going to miscarry, it no longer falls under pre-natal 100% coverage and you have to pay for it and all other resulting medical treatments out of pocket.  The ultrasound alone will set you back $600+.)
So it seemed only fitting that at the Donut Run, I got to pay back that social support in my own wacky way. Even if it was only with refined carbs, fat, caffeine, sugar and booze. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Recipe: Delicous Snack (?) - Califlower Popcorn

So, I was stumbling around the internet the other day and found this:

Has anyone else tried this?  Is it worth it?

I'm imagining mushy, buttery cauliflower.  Not sure I want to waste my time...

Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday Funny #4

I'm guessing you wouldn't be surprised if I told you - a lot of stupid, funny stuff happens to me on a regular basis.  And usually, it's because I unknowingly set myself up for it.

In honor of my follies, I decided to start an occasional post tradition on my blog:  the Friday Funny.  Whenever something worthy of my unique brand of stupidity happens, I post a snippet about it here.

And so, with that introduction, I bring you the latest installment of the Friday Funny (this one isn't exactly tied to me, but everyone keeps saying it should be, so hang with me here):

A suggestion of what to bring to the Skeleton Run post race pot luck ... from a concerned friend.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Influenster Chose Me!

About a month ago, I joined a website called Influenster.

Basically, I learned about the website from another blogger and figured - hey, I do product reviews on here anyway, so why not get free samples for doing it?

Surprisingly, when I set up my account, I was rated as a "medium" reach candidate.  I figured my blog was too small to make a difference, but I guess I was wrong.  And now, here I am a month later, qualified for my first free sample to review. 

Granted, it's just some lotion, but hey!

So, in the next few weeks I'll be trying out: Vaseline® Intensive Care™ Advanced Repair Fragrance Free Lotion.  Which I think is coming just in time given the upcoming cold Minnesota winter, and the fact that I love a hot post-workout shower... which can really pack a 1-2 punch on my skin come November/December.

Anyway, check back later to see what I think!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Mankato - Photos Up!

OMG!  The Run Mankato photos are up, and they are fantastic!!

I'm still working to negotiate a digital download from the race photographer, but in the meantime, here are the proofs for your enjoyment.

And if you thought those were good, check out the close ups.

You can almost see me starting to brace in this one.  Look at the smile / grimace.  It made me laugh the most.

Plus, not to be outdone, some mid course shots...