Saturday, July 31, 2010

Larabar Treasure Hunt

Heyy yall! It's Alexis this time around.

The time has finally come for me tell you all about my first meeting with Rob Yang.

Rob has some pretty intense credentials to his name, so no phony stuff here! Check out his e-mail signature:

Robert Yang

Certified Nutritionist (CN)

C.H.E.K Institute Faculty Member

Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) - Nutrition Advisory Board Member

National Pitching Association (NPA)- Advisory Board Member

He's legit! Check out what he's up to and some pretty intense pictures of him at!

Like I said before my reasons for meeting with Rob were to talk to him about my gluten-free diet. Rob asked me a long series of questions that related to just about everything from energy level to hunger level to in depth questions about bowel movements (too much information yet?).

From all of this he agreed with my decision to avoid gluten in order to improve digestive functions, especially considering my past stomach problems. Taking gluten out of my diet leads me to a lot of healthier alternatives. So instead of a sandwich, I turn to a salad. Instead of a burger with a bun, I turn to a burger in a bowl aka protein style with a lot more veggies to make up for the bread. So not only am I avoiding something very bad for me, I am upping my intake of other nutritious goodies.

Rob is helping me to create a good program of vitamins and supplements to take to help my immune system and also help my digestive system to repair itself. While in Peru, I got pretty sick after eating some cuy aka guinea pig (among lots of other interesting meats of which I still don't know their names). At least I got to enhance my experience while abroad and visited a Peruvian emergency room where I received some antibiotics. Ever since I came home I've been taking probiotics to help restore the healthy bacteria killed off by all of the antibiotics. Rob and I are meeting TWICE next week (woo) and will go over a finalized plan for supplements to take when I'm back at school.

I also picked Rob's brain a lot about the best exercise schedule to allow me to improve my running and hopefully put down a few PRs in this upcoming racing season! On Monday, we'll be doing a full exercise consultation but Rob did notice something interesting about my joints. The best way to improve in a sport is to ensure the safety of your joints in order to prevent injury.

Here's a direct quote from Rob about what makes me unique and requires me to take a different approach to my running:

"Your body is too flexible meaning your joints are hyper mobile. You can hyperextend your elbows and knees. Since you have too much mobility in your joints as you run, the body is using energy from the nervous system and muscular system to stabilize the joints versus using the energy to allow you to run faster. "

My crazy knee joints seen here:

This is pretty much my normal stance, something that needs to change! So we'll be working on creating a strength-training program for me to do in order to help me get stronger to help both my posture and to become a better runner! I'm so excited and can't wait to share pictures with you all from our upcoming meetings.

Well that's a somewhat intense summary of what he and I went over. I'm just so excited about becoming even healthier and with his help I'm going to get there!

Today was a pretty wonderful day, even though I'm jealous of Shelby's day of fun in Charlottesville! I was a little worried how this long day would turn out after staying out late last night and waking up early for CPR Recertification. A tall chai latte did the trick and the day ended up turning out great! CPR class was an awesome refresher, so I'll be prepared for any crazy situation that may arise while at work at the Aquatic and Fitness Center at school! Then it was time for errands and I made it my mission to find some unique Larabars. These lovely little treats were the product of searching at THREE different stores!

SUCCESS!! So excited about these babies. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough will be accompanying me tomorrow on my 9 miler!

I also found some other yummy gluten-free treats that I can’t wait to try:

These were sooo good and an awesome reward after my trail run today!

I also had a change of heart in regards to my reading for the upcoming week. I finally finished The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz and decided I would start Eat, Pray, Love in hopes of someday finishing The New Book Classics.

And then I found this baby while searching for a new running water bottle at REI (left the Fuel Belt in Charlottesville dang itttt!). I'm pretty excited about this read and will be sure to write up some sort of review when I'm finished.

In close, I thought I'd leave with one of my favorite parts about being home. It's pomegranate/mango/strawberry/chocolate bliss in the form of frozen yogurt. If you ever need a reason to come visit me in San Diego, this would be a good one.

I hope you all are enjoying your weekends! Think of me when I'm stuck at work tomorrow (booo!).


Perfect Charlottesville Morning

Hey all!!

It is hard for me to sit still on the weekends this summer (probably a consequence of sitting in an office for nine hours a day during the week) so yesterday, I packed up and drove down to Charlottesville! 

Karen woke me up at 7:45 this morning to go on the run we had planned to do. Despite my attraction to the bed and more sleep, I got up and threw on my sneakers, shorts, and a t-shirt. It has been so hot and humid this past week so when we walked outside to a perfect temperature of seventy-five and little humidity, I knew this was going to be a great run. We ran on one of my favorite paths that Mary had shown me this past year. It goes through a beautiful neighborhood with a little lake and eventually you wind up a hill with pastures and can look out over the mountains that surround Charlottesville. It definitely made me appreciate where I go to school. Although this was surely not one of Karen or I's faster runs, it felt great to wake up and be active! 

After a quick shower and a change of clothes we headed to the downtown Charlottesville Farmer's Market! They have it every Saturday until about October and I have decided to make it a regular in my weekend routine- it is so fun!!

Karen and Liz wanted to get some curry so we headed straight to the Disha's Kitchen stand and sampled some of her delicious sauces!

These were my favorites...

Then I headed over to get some cold green tea and it was just the refreshment that I needed!

I couldn't resist snapping some photos of the veggies! One of my favorite health blogs, Oh She Glows, proves that veggies make beautiful models!

Damn veggies you look good!

Well that's all I for now. We are going to go try out the Afghan restaurant in town tonight- can't wait! Hope everyone is having a good weekend!!


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Improvisational Crackers

Hey Errrybodyy! Alexis here!

Today started off great. I got to sleep in...until 7:30 yikes. I'm really getting a little taste of the real world this summer yeah? Cathy, my boss, surprised us with tons of new cheeses to try from Whole Foods. You know you've got a good setup when your boss allows for food tastings at work! I improvised and turned my apple into "gluten-free crackers" and chowed down on some almond butter. I'm pretty sure almond butter is a requirement for all health bloggers to eat on a regular basis.
After work I headed straight to Solana Beach for a quick run by the ocean before an INTENSE yoga practice this evening. I think I may space out my runs and yoga sessions more between each other in order to properly hydrate for each work out. If you all are ever in the San Diego area you really need to check out Haute Yoga in Solana Beach. Everyone there is so welcoming and helpful and it's a really calming space to allow for the best yoga practices.

I thought I would give you all a little run down about what's going on with my diet before I dive into all the great stuff I learned from Rob Yang on Tuesday!

In high school I began to develop some serious stomach issues. I would flip flop between feeling super bloated to having major cramps. After months of pain and discomfort, I finally saw a gastroenterologist. After several different diagnoses and an endoscopy I found that I had developed small stomach ulcers and had Helicobactor pilori.

H. Pilori in a nutshell: This bacteria causes a chronic low-level inflammation of the stomach lining and is closely linked to duodenal and gastric ulcers and even stomach cancer.

A lovely close-up:

So definitely not a great thing to have in your system, let alone at the age of 15. It's very rare to develop H. Pilori at such a young age.

My stomach is very sensitive and there are certain things that definitely trigger the same kinds of problems like caffeine, too much dairy, and gluten of course.

In high school I was able to avoid these things, but when college started it became pretty difficult. Take It Away sandwiches, Bodo's bagels, and beer pong called to me, to the point where I began to ignore any stomach issues. But as the end of second year came upon us and stress increased, it made the problems even worse. By the time I was getting ready to leave for Peru I realized that a lot of the symptoms I had previously experienced were back.

I'm an adventurous person though, and couldn't deny all of the wonderful foods I'd been offered while in Peru. It was also pretty tough to communicate in a foreign language, let alone talk about an intolerance that's not even well known in the States. So from the start I made the decision to lay off the gluten as much as possible and when I got back to the States I'd cut it out of my diet completely.

It's hard to make this type of major change so I wanted to meet with someone to help me shape my diet better for my college lifestyle and in order to obtain proper nutrition for running, etc!

Look out for a post about the meeting very soon!

As of now I'm majorly looking forward to one of my best friends RYAN coming to visit in less than a week! It's going to be a lot of running, good eating, and beach chillin'.

That's all for now! Enjoy your Friday!


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Going the Distance

Hey all!

So since this is only my first half marathon and I have never actually run 13.1 miles before, my training is all about building up my distance. I have looked at a couple half-marathon training work-outs but since my life will be pretty scattered for the next six weeks (being in Maryland working nine hours a day, then road-tripping to Colorado, and then flying back to Charlottesville and classes starting) I decided that I needed to make up my own training schedule that would fit around my life. Here is the schedule that I came up with (I am now on week 2):

The maximum distance I decided that I wanted to run before the race is 12 miles because that will prove to my psyche that I will be able to complete the half-marathon but I want the day of the race to be the longest distance that I have ever gone. Although there is no obvious pattern to when I run my longer distances and when I take rests or do yoga/pilates, I tried to base it on the vastly different schedules I will be on in each of the three places. Based on my research for training for half-marathons, if you are going to be in one place and on a fairly regular schedule for the two months leading up to the race, I would try to stay on a far more consistent basis than me. Some of the schedules I liked were Half Marathon Training by Hal Higdon and the 8 Week Half Marathon Plan by I think some of the most important aspects to training for half marathons for newbies like me is to of course build up your mileage, alternate with days of cross-training for strength and flexibility (I chose yoga and pilates but you can do whatever works best for you!), and don’t forget to take some days to rest!

As you can see on my schedule, today was my day to run seven miles and I am very happy to say that I completed it! The family that I am staying with suggested this wonderful running path in the area and it was the perfect place for my long distance run. I got to run by a creek for the majority of the time plus most of the trail was shaded which is definitely a bonus in this 90 degree plus humidity weather! I started feeling a little tired in the last mile but overall the run felt great!!

After my run today, I decided to reward myself with a Sweetgreen salad (a local favorite- must check out if you are around DC!). I ordered the chic p.


I know that I will probably not be able to stick to my schedule 100% but I believe it is important to make one in order to keep myself motivated and on a general schedule. Another trick to keep yourself motivated for doing a long distance race you have never done before is to sign up and pay and that way you will feel a lot less inclined to back out.

Well hope everyone has had a great Wednesday, I think I am definitely going to sleep well tonight!!


No! Not Speedwork!

Hey everyone!

I'm squeezing in a quick post today and will inform you all about my meeting with San Diego nutritionist Rob Yang by the end of the week!

My life at home has been so busy. I'm working 40 hours a week as an office clerk to make some extra money to pay my parents back for all of the wonderful traveling I was able to do this summer. So working 8 hours a day and fitting in workouts has been rough but definitely worth it.

Now that I've been running for a while, it's time for me to start improving my race times. To do this it's going to take a lot of speed work. And if you know me, you know I pretty much despise speedwork. I'm sure I will fall in love with it eventually someday though. For this upcoming race I'm going to throw in more tempo runs and longer distances at race pace to get me ready for a half in September (which is going to be Shelby's first!).

This morning I did a 40 minute tempo run, my first tempo run in a WHILE.

What is a tempo run you ask? I found a pretty great definition for it at
"Tempo runs are workouts where you run at a steady pace that is around 70% to 80% of your max aerobic capacity. Tempo runs are just past the point where you begin to build up waste product in your legs at a rapid rate during a run, which is called the lactate-threshold velocity."

According to the running phenom Hal Higdon when training for a half-marathon a tempo run should be "a continuous run with a buildup in the middle to near 10-K race pace."

The run went well. I was pretty sore from my trail run yesterday, which was a pretty amazing 5.5 mile run with views like this.

Since my quads were feelin a bit rough I took a longer warm up and then sped up significantly for about 15 minutes. It was hard because the trails around my house in San Diego are pretty hilly but I enjoyed the challenge. Then it was a nice cool down to the Kings of Leon Pandora station on my iPhone. It was an awesome way to start the day.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Welcome Part II

Welcome again to Virginia is for Health Nuts!!! I know Alexis already did a little intro on us and why we decided to write this blog but I wanted to write a little more about my experience with health, diet, and all things healthy thus far!

I grew up in Denver, which is also an incredible place to live a healthy lifestyle and I filled my childhood with tons of sports and activities. At one point or another I have played tennis, golf, swimming, lacrosse, basketball, and soccer. While each of these sports carried its own allure and their own successes and failures, the form of activity I was always drawn to was running.

I have had an on and off again relationship with running since I was about ten years old. My dad was always really into running, in fact he believes running will cure just about anything, and so he got me into it at a really young age. I started running a bunch of 5K races when I was 11, and I even got some awards for my age group (although I can’t imagine there were that many people competing). I continued running with my dad sporadically up until high school. Then my freshman year of high school, I ran cross-country for my school but for some reason running no longer carried the same allure as it use to. I was turned off by the competition of it all and only running to beat out someone else. I spent the rest of high school focused on playing tennis and only running every now and then when I would go to the gym.

I had always had a fascination with the east coast and when it came time to apply to college, I took the plunge and decided the University of Virginia was the place I wanted to go. I absolutely love it and the active culture of Charlottesville inspired me to start running again. I re-found my passion for running. It is now something that I do for me- it keeps me sane, grounded, strong, and healthy. I plan on running my first half marathon this September, which I am incredibly excited about (and a little nervous for!).

Growing up in Colorado, I have also always loved hiking. It is a big thing in Colorado to climb some of the 54 14,000 ft. mountains that we have. My dad and I have completed two so far! I will be writing about my experience climbing the third in a couple weeks!

I hope to write about all my ups and downs with running, healthy eating (trying to figure out what that means to me), and all the other random, trying to be creative ways I can think of to get exercise! Get ready for lots more things from Alexis and I!!


Monday, July 26, 2010

You're Really Going to Peru?

I pondered for a long time about how I would spend my summer. While I would have loved to live at the beach at home for three months, I wanted something more this year. After researching about several programs I decided to go to South America, an area of the world I had yet to explore.

This program through UVa allowed me the opportunity to see a new part of the world, improve my Spanish, and take some classes that I had never really had the chance to take before considering all of my classes have some sort of business focus!

The trip was a blast. I lived with a wonderful host family for the majority of the time in Lima and attended classes at la Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya. My time in Peru included LOTs of traveling throughout the country.

We visited the oldest city in the Americas and the second oldest city in the world, called Caral:

And then we went to a small seaside town called Barranca. Here we devoured some Tacu Tacu, a traditional dish made of rice, beans, and seafood and cooked like a pancake (soooo yummmy)!

And munched on ceviche!

And then chilled on the beach for a while. It had been about 5 months since I had last seen the Pacific!

We ventured to an oasis called Huacachina:

Where we partook in some sand boarding! While one of the craziest and most amazing experiences of my life, the dune buggy caused the death of my favorite Lululemon “I Love Running” water bottle. Aside from that it was incredible.


Later on during our time in Peru we travelled to Tarma, a small town in the Andes. During three days of our visit we trekked about 80km throughout the Andes mountains. It was definitely one of the coolest things I have ever done.

We made it to “La Cima del Cielo” (in English known as the “the top of heaven”)

Where my friend Charley and I may or may not have decided to take a nap:

One of the nights we really roughed it and slept on the floor of a shephard’s home. Keep in mind this was a town of SEVEN people so this particular experience was pretty remarkable.

I was particularly intrigued by all of the Incan and pre-Incan ruins we came across during our journey:

After three days of some pretty INTENSE trekkin' we made it back to Tarma in need of showers but felt pretty darn accomplished at the same time. Good thing I got to play with some puppies to elevate my mood even more!

The next day we made it to Pichanaki, a town in the jungle of Peru. Here we endured some intense humidity and saw lots of lovely green foliage.

And were also treated like celebrities at a local school. Many of the students had never met Americans before. It was really great to share each others perspectives on just about everything. The students asked questions about things that ranged from the economy in the United States to when we first fell in love..crazy kids!

We also of course visited Cusco, the town closest to Macchu Picchu. This was one of my favorite places we stayed in all of Peru, and I can’t wait to return.

Here I did some MAJOR shopping in the artisan markets and got my hair wrapped! This baby isn’t coming out of my hair, despite the dread that is surely forming at the top.

And of course we saw Macchu Picchu. All I can say is wow.

My experience was amazing and a single post is not going to do it justice. I really wanted to share with you all some of my favorite pictures of the trip. If any of you plan on making it down south please let me know and I will tell you all of the reasons it is so important to visit Peru!!!

You'll be hearing from Shelby next! Tomorrow I will be meeting with a nutritionist here in San Diego to talk about my gluten-free diet, among other things. I'll be asking him lots of questions and can't wait to tell you all what he has to say!



Welcome to Virginia is for Health Nuts!! Shelb and I are so excited to start up this blog in hopes of keeping ourselves on track and inspire other college students to maintain healthy lifestyles.

Our decision to blog about staying fit all started out when Shelby met me in D.C. after returning back to the States from a month and a half of studying abroad in Peru. While my experience was AMAZING (a post about my trip is coming soon!),

I came back feeling awful. Not only did I come back with some extra baggage (ten pounds to be exact) I also came back with a significant amount of symptoms that result from gluten intolerance. The second I landed in the States I immediately stopped eating anything with gluten in it. It's been about 3 weeks of living gluten-free and I have seriously never felt better!

So besides catching up after not seeing each for so long, we spent a majority of our day searching for a good salad and also talked about our goals to stay healthy during the school year. Shelby has been interning this summer in D.C. at a marketing firm and has learned a ton about social media. She came up with the fantastic idea of creating a blog to get us going, allowing us to learn more about the blogging world and to keep up our healthy lifestyles.

A little bit about me:

I grew up in San Diego, an amazing place to live if you want to lead an active life! While California is definitely a great place to grow up, I wanted a change of pace and decided to go to school on the east coast: the University of Virginia.

Charlottesville, being one of the fittest cities in the country, has been an awesome place to attend school. I am constantly motivated when I see all of the runners around Grounds (what we called "campus," don't blame us blame Thomas Jefferson!). I also started working at the Aquatic and Fitness Center at UVa which has caused even more inspiration to exercise regularly.

I played tennis all of my life until a serious ankle injury kept me off the court my senior of high school. Tennis was the only way I knew how to stay fit, so I soon realized I would have to figure something else out. So I started running and have been addicted ever since! At first I could barely run a mile at a time but I soon improved. Within 6 months of my first "real" run I had finished my first half marathon.

From then on I had set a new goal of running a marathon the next year. It was the hardest thing I have ever done! While it took me longer than I had hoped, this just caused me to make a new goal. I hope to run a full marathon in under 4 hours and 30 minutes by the end of next year!

After the marathon my knees were hurtin' so I decided to start yoga classes at Haute Yoga in Solana Beach and quickly found a new passion. I've brought this new hobby with me back to school and now practice at Bikram Charlottesville. I now balance yoga and running as a part of my exercise regimine.

Not only do I hope to write about my "obsession" with exercise, I also hope to log my entrance into the world of being gluten-free. I know it's going to be a tough journey, but I am so excited to finally feel better! It's important to note that I do not have Celiac disease so I'm not an expert on that, but for anyone else out there that has a severe intolerance to gluten I'm here for ya!

Happy Monday everyone! Keep lookin' for a post about my travels to South America!