I've been reading Lisa's blog, Early Morning Run, for a couple of months now. She lives in NYC, so I can get my dose of NY through her photos and posts, but I also read for her views on diet and exercise. She ran the NYC Marathon last year for the first time, and often posts photos of her healthy meals (I will never tire of photos of food). She also shares her views on topics such as Michelle Obama's initiative to fight childhood obesity. Lisa was kind enough to answer the questions I had for her, so read on.....
What brought you to NYC? How do you like living there?
I moved to NYC for a great job opportunity. While it was a bit of a culture shock from living in Michigan, I love living here. There is so much to do and see. If you’re bored, it’s your own fault! I love just walking around the city exploring neighborhoods, since things are always changing. There are great restaurants, parks, festivals, fairs, farmers markets. I love running in Central Park and people watching ALL THE TIME!
The name of your blog is Early Morning Run...how did you become a runner? Do you really always run in the morning?
I became a runner (it’s still weird to think of myself as a ‘runner’) a year or so after I moved out here. I gained a bit of weight over the first year – all the great restaurants and bakeries on each block and moving out here alone – so I really made an effort to get into shape and lose weight. I had been going to the gym but I live near Central Park and always saw tons of people out running and watched the NYRR races which looked like a lot of fun. I run in the morning about 95% of the time. I’ll run in the evening if it’s with friends. If I’m not running, I’m at the gym, and that’s always in the morning too. It starts my day off on the right track and gives me a lot of energy. I feel ‘off’ if I don’t work out and get that rush of endorphins!
What made you decide to run the NYC Marathon last fall? Was it your first?
I have only done one marathon. I watched the marathon runners go up 1st Ave for years and was always in awe and inspired by them. It amazed me to see runners from all walks of life, of all ages – from teens to 80 year olds – many running in honor of others. The runners with disabilities never cease to amaze me. They are incredible. I decided to run to prove to myself that I could. I didn’t start running until I was in my 20’s and I wanted to set a big goal for myself and accomplish it. It is definitely the most physical goal I’ve ever set for myself and the feeling I had crossing the finish line was absolutely incredible.
What kind of training program did you follow for the marathon? What do you do for cross training?
I looked into a lot of different training programs but the most important thing to remember when choosing one is that it works with your schedule. If it’s not a plan that you can realistically fit into your schedule, it’s not going to work. Rather than spending money on a personalized plan (which may have been better in the long run) I used the plan for beginner marathoners on the NYRR website. It worked well for me because the long runs were on Saturday and the mileage built up gradually. It did require a lot of running days, but I would swap one or two out each week for an intense elliptical workout. I also did a bit of strength training, but looking back, I should have done more. I did buy a running log to keep track of everything – fuel, routes, mileage, time, etc which really helped me keep track of my progress.
I'm pretty loyal to brands once I find one that I like, what is some of your favorite running gear?
Ahhh, so important! I had quite a few foot problems while I was training for the marathon and shoes are the key piece of gear for me. I’ve used a few models, but I stick with Asics. They just fit my feet the best. I also love my Nike shorts and C9 tanks! They are so comfortable! I’m also a fan of the Fuel Belt I purchased last summer. Definitely necessary for long runs out of Central Park when drinking fountains weren’t close by.
What is your food philosophy?
For the longest time I didn’t have a food philosophy. When I realized I need to take control and lose weight several years ago, I didn’t really do it the smart way. I was living on my own, my kitchen was about two square feet (literally) and I just decreased my caloric intake and upped my physical activity. Now though, I am really focused on eating healthy, whole foods. I subscribe to the Michael Pollan philosophy and have cut out a lot of processed foods. It’s all about healthy, nutritious and well balanced meals. I do have a strong sweet tooth though, and have been successful this year in curbing my cravings and eating less sugar. It really is not good for overall health.
What foods do you always have in your fridge or cabinet? Is there anything in particular that you like or dislike?
We always have peanut butter, carrots, apples, bananas and pears. Oatmeal, legumes, and grains are also staples. I absolutely LOVE peanut butter (can eat it from a jar! White Choc Wonderful from PB&Co is my favorite.). I’m not a fan of shell fish or really hot peppers.
Take us through a normal day of eating for you.
I always have an Akmak cracker or two before the gym.
Afterwards, I’ll have oatmeal loaded with banana, flax, chia (new addition!), and cinnamon or a yogurt (love Greek yogurt, but often it’s regular non-fat organic) mess that includes banana, flax, chia, cinnamon, and homemade granola.
For lunch I’ll have some sort of sandwich on an Arnold’s Sandwich Thin or whole grain bread, a side of veggies and always an apple. I love avocado, hummus, tomato and onion sandwiches!
Dinner can be all sorts of things. If I’m not too hungry I’ll just have some cottage cheese, veggies and fruit. Sometimes we’ll simply cook fish, have a loaded sweet potato, veggie whole wheat pizza, we’ve started experimenting with different grains. I also like making chili, sautéing kale with tomatoes, garlic and other veggies. I’ve been trying a lot of different things lately but we always keep it well balanced. Sometimes if we’re exhausted or not very inspired we’ll make sandwiches. We love sandwiches!
Throughout the day I’ll have a few cups of green tea, coffee on the weekends and a couple snacks. Snacks can be a mixture of things. Truthfully, snacking has been a downfall for me, but I’m doing well this year on snacking less and choosing healthy options like carrots, fruit, an Akmak cracker or plain popcorn. If I’m heading out for a few hours I’ll take a larabar, some almonds or a piece of fruit along with me in case I get hungry so I don’t resort to something sugary and fatty.
I'm trying to teach my children healthy habits by example. Where do you get your inspiration from to eat right and exercise?
My mother has been a great inspiration! She joined weight watchers several years ago and completely changed her eating habits and lost over 60lbs! She really got me started. Also, I’ve had some health issues over the past few years and I strongly believe that what we eat and our level of activity directly influences our health. I want to be as healthy as possible and live a long, happy life and that means eating well and being active. I also love food, and have found fresh ingredients make the most flavorful meals!
What is your take on our nations obesity problems? Do you have any views on the best way to address them?
I could talk for hours about this. I think the obesity problem in this nation, is sad, disgusting, and alarming. We are killing ourselves by eating such unhealthy foods and so many people are stuck in their ways and refuse to change even though they know this. Eating fast, unhealthy foods has been ingrained in our daily lives for a couple generations now and it’s going to take a lot to change that. Convenience foods have become a part of our culture, so change won’t happen overnight.
Truthfully, I’m not sure how to address the problems. So many things are intertwined that it will take years to unwind them. Government subsidies, school food regulations, the big food companies and their marketing power. I really think people need to take it upon themselves to make the change and turn this around. The Government isn’t going to do it and we shouldn’t rely on them to. We need to take responsibility of our health. I’m inspired by the people who are making waves in their own communities, even in little ways, to bring attention to this and help people learn how to live healthfully. I’ve seen some companies pop up where you can go in, learn how to cook healthful meals for your family, pay for the ingredients, make the meals and take them home. You can make enough for the whole week and put them in your freezer till you need them. I think this is great! Real meals that are still easy to make at night.
Running seems to be gaining popularity and the more 5k races there are, the more running stores providing free group runs and clinics, the better! Blogs like this one inspire others and cause change! This really needs to be a true grassroots initiative by people all across the country. It’s going to take a long time, but I think it’s going to happen. There are a lot of people who are trying to make changes, we just need them to reach the ones who aren’t quite convinced yet.
salty or sweet? Sweet
George Clooney or Brad Pitt? George Clooney
Early Bird or Night Owl? Definitely an early bird!
Boxers or Briefs? Boxer-briefs! Haha!
Vampires or Werewolves? Neither?!
Dogs or Cats? Cats.
reality television, yes, or no? This is a tough one. Yes, but only a few. I can’t stand most of them!