Archive for health & fitness

DC: Theodore Roosevelt Island

Last we checked in, this was my current DC to-do list:

  • MLK Jr. Memorial
  • Botanical Gardens
  • American History Museum
  • Pick fruit from a local orchard

Since then, I had plans to cross off the Botanical Gardens and the National Arboretum with my mom when she came to visit this past week. However, traffic in Richmond prevented her from getting here in time to really explore either of those. Since the arboretum is only open Friday to Monday, that one was quickly put on the back burner, but officially added to the list and since the Botanical Gardens are only open til 5 daily, it made it impossible for a mid-week trip. Instead, I remembered another little hideaway spot in DC I’d been meaning to explore: Theodore Roosevelt Island.


Located just off GW Parkway and open until 10 PM, Mom and I planned a last minute walking adventure which would be good for her hip and for my knee. I checked the National Park Service info and found out there are 3 trails – the largest, the Swamp Trail, with a distance of 1.3 miles. I told Mom it was “just over a mile” so she wouldn’t have any reservations. I knew she could do it πŸ™‚ So yesterday after work, we explored Roosevelt Island.

It wasn’t really what I expected. Probably a lot less traveled that most other parks in the area, there were parts that were “rugged” in a totally urban way. Fallen trees in other parks would have a chunk cut out to maintain the path, but not on Roosevelt Island. In any case, it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle.

While the view of the island itself isn’t that impressive, the views of the city are lovely. The Swamp Trail runs just along the outside of the island and gives you great views of Rosslyn:


And Georgetown:


I was hoping this trend would continue all the way around so you could see Watergate or the memorials, but the trail didn’t run that close to the edge on that side and you could only see snippets of them peeking through the trees. But if you keep going, you’ll finally hit the “swamp” that the trail is named after. The footbridge was a must.


I think Mom geeked out a little as she said more than once, “This would be a perfect biology class field trip to learn about the ecosystem here.” Mom is a retired HS biology teacher. Obvious now, eh?

I liked trying to spot the swamp wildlife (we saw a Cooper’s Hawk!) and loved that Mom was really into it, but perhaps my favorite part of the island was this tree.


Not that I haven’t seen graffiti-ed/carved trees before, but it’s like this one was chosen. It was the only tree that I saw on the entire island that had been carved, likely by young lovers. And maybe a few old ones too.

So if you have an afternoon in DC and you want to get off the beaten path and take in a bit of nature, Theodore Roosevelt Island is your place. Your mind won’t be blown, but it’s a nice little afternoon adventure.


Weekend review: Hiking with Tessie

This past weekend, I got to puppy sit one of my all time favorite pups, Tessie. She’s part hound and just needs to run and exercise; otherwise, she kind of loses it and gets stir crazy. So when I made plans for the long weekend, I made sure to include Tessie-friendly activities.

On Saturday, I went hiking with Sophie and her human. We’re regular hiking buddies, but it was a little different this time since I had Tessie. We went to Great Falls on the Maryland side and totally rocked Billy Goat B and C paths which put our day’s total at just over 6 miles. We skipped Billy Goat A since you can’t take dogs on that trail, but we still got some great views.

It’s amazing to see dog’s communicate and to watch how they show each other stuff. Tessie is apparently a total chicken when it comes to water; where as Sophie is part fish. The first beach area we spotted, Sophie was just waiting to chase rocks and sticks and Tessie just wasn’t sure…


But after a few romps and some encouragement from Sophie, Tessie got her paws wet and even went up to her chest at one point.


Which gave me time to enjoy the scenery a bit more and take in this view…

By the end of our hiking day, Tessie was leading us and letting us know she wanted to play in the water a bit more. Of course by the time we finished 6 miles, all she wanted to do was lay down in the back of the car. Sweet pup πŸ™‚

On Sunday, my sister and I had made plans to hike Old Rag but since we both weren’t sure if we were up for the 8 mile loop and rock scramble, we opted for a less intense hike and one where we could bring Tessie along. This time we headed out to Fountainhead National Park in Fairfax, Virginia. Totally different to Great Falls, this trail was definitely in a more wooded area with fewer watering holes. There was no rock scrambling, but there were some hills that put the cardio in cardiovascular. We did a 6 mile in and out hike. Here we are at 3 miles just before we looped back:


I don’t think Tessie could believe her luck at all the running, sniffing, and exploring she got to do this past weekend. I was pretty impressed myself. I just gotta say I’m loving all the hiking I’ve been doing this year and the old knee isn’t complaining either!

Weekend review: Race day

As part of my 2013 goals, I was determined to prove to myself (and others) that I had a working knee. I mean, I knew I did, but I wanted a race under my belt to really show that I could do it…I could run! So last Saturday, I participated in the Lozilu 5K, a women’s only mud run.

Despite a few negative Nancy’s (on my team) bailing last minute and having to wait 20+ minutes to hop over/under/through some of the obstacles, I officially completed the race. It certainly wasn’t the most brilliant race I’ve ever run and the lack of organization tried my patience to no end, but a few unexpected laughs made the day at least a little bit fun.

I randomly bumped into one of the girls I play camogie with and we ended up combining our teams and running together which, in truth, made it a lot more fun than it would have been. She had a water/shock-proof camera and took loads of pics throughout the race, but I haven’t had a chance to snag them off her, so here’s one I pinched from the official race site – pre-mud, of course.


So, yes, that’s officially another item crossed off the goal list. It wasn’t pretty, but it’s been done.

Food: Strawberry shortcake cupcakes

I’d consider this cupcake experiment a direct product of fate. There were 2 things that happened in order to not only make this a delicious recipe, but also a healthy treat!

1. I found the idea on Pinterest, via Lady Behind The Curtain

But, I knew her awesome recipe was a little too complicated for me. Plus, I wanted to find a way to reduce the calories. That’s when #2 popped into my inbox.

2. An updated, healthy HungryGirl version of tie-dye (or funfetti) cupcakes

After a little planning, I instantly knew exactly how I was going to make this work. First, I started with a healthier cupcake option, using part of HungryGirl’s recipe. So simple, it fell under my 5 ingredient rule and made these perfect looking cupcakes…


Cupcake recipe (servings: 12)

  • 1 3/4 cup of moist-style white cake mix
  • 1/2 cup of egg whites (4 eggs for me)
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup of water

Mix together until batter is smooth. Fill your cupcake liners at least 3/4 of the way so you get nice puffy cupcakes. Bake at 350 for 16-18 minutes.

While my cupcakes were in the oven, I mixed together my frosting.

Cupcake frosting

  • 1 container of Fat Free Cool Whip (8 oz)
  • 1 box of Sugar Free Vanilla Jello pudding mix

Mix together and whip. Refrigerate after mixed thoroughly.

After the cupcakes have cooled, carve out the center and add a small strawberry.


Next, put your frosting into a small ziplock bag. Cut the corner off and voila – instant piping bag. Swirl around and top your cupcakes with frosting.


Add small chunks of strawberries to the top for a little extra color and flavor.


And finally, it’s time to enjoy your low-calorie strawberry shortcake cupcake. Even though YOU made them, the little strawberry surprise inside is just divine and the cool whip/jello frosting is perfect without being too heavy.


Nutritional facts:

HungryGirl puts her tie dye cupcakes at 135 calories which includes a modified real frosting and sprinkles. I don’t know the exact calorie count, but these should easily come in under 135 since a.) the center of the cupcake has been replaced by a strawberry, b.) the frosting is not only sugar free, but fat free, c.) we nixed the sprinkles. But just to be on the safe side, we’ll say they’re 135 calories.

135 calories for a strawberry shortcake cupcake? Sure why not! I might just even have 2.

Weekend review: Sugarloaf Mountain

This past weekend was strangely warm for a January weekend, so I took full advantage and set out on a wee hike with some canine and hooman friends. We decided to check out Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland. It would probably be more accurately described as a large hill, but it was challenging enough with my recovering knee and my first week actually back into exercise.

The day’s fog burned off by noon and we started the day at the winery at the bottom of the hill, filling our bellies with foodies. Then we hit the trail. It was easy for the most part, with the exception of a rocky incline. I think my fitness level was more a challenge than any pressure put on my knee, but I gotta start somewhere, right? Right! Sophie, Zelda, and Frank were our furry friends and stick chasing was the activity du jour.


From top to bottom, left to right:

  • Mossy rocks on the way to the top
  • Miss Sophie gets a water break at the top
  • Zelda sunning herself on a rock at the top
  • View from the very top, looking out over Maryland

Hiking isn’t one of those activities I think of when someone asks me what I like to do, but it’s definitely something I enjoy. With so many trails around the area, I think I’ll find myself hiking (and maybe even camping) a lot more in 2013!

Weekend review: NAGAA finals

3 years ago, I joined the Washington, DC Gaels and learned how to play camogie and gaelic football. Since then, every Labor Day has been filled with blood, sweat, and fun as hundreds of players come together for the North American GAA finals.

This year in Philly was a little different for me since I tore my ACL a few weeks back. It was hard only being able to watch from the sidelines, but I still had a brilliant weekend. I’m already looking forward to next year in Cleveland; but let’s be honest, I’m just looking forward to being able to run again next year.

If you’re looking to get fit and find good friends, then I definitely recommend finding a GAA club in your town. The Irish are everywhere πŸ™‚

Oh and to really make this weekend super fantastic, I got to have lunch with CrankyPants on Friday. Always a pleasure to catch up – though sad I didn’t snag a pic at lunch of our nom nom margaritas!

No gum allowed

It should come as no surprise that I’m a bit of an exercise junky and I often challenge myself to try new things. Just last year I completed 2 half-marathons and this year, I’m training for a triathlon in May. I also enjoy other torturous activities like yoga, specifically hot yoga, where the average temp is 103-105 degrees.

You sweat, you stretch, you breath, you concentrate – all good things. But, it took me a few times to actually admit that I enjoyed the classes. Initially, I had to get over the yoga ego that many yogis possess, then it was more or less the structure that bothered me…very rudimentary and almost factual. There wasn’t anything overly zen about it, but once I let that go, I now actually look forward to the sweaty release.

However, there is still 1 thing I can’t let go and 1 part of the class that still bothers me – every instructor’s need to call out individuals in an effort to correct them, but ultimately to embarrass them. I’ve been to multiple classes withΒ  multiple instructors and since I’m still considered a yoga noob, I partake in all the noob classes which is of course, filled with other noobs who in turn make noob mistakes.

We fall out, we drink water, we breathe through our mouths, we wipe away the sweat, we try to leave the class.

I’ll admit, I’ve done at least one if not all of the above and it really is a learned discipline to complete a class without mistakes. I get that many of the rules are in place for our own safety or for preserving the concentration/energy of others in the class, but truth be told…I’d rather someone sit down in the middle of a pose to drink water than have the instructor single them out to tell them they can’t drink water just now. In my book, that’s far more distracting.

What’s even more distracting is an instructor coming up to you in the middle of a pose telling you to spit out your gum because it’s not safe. Really? I walk and chew gum, talk and chew gum, run and chew gum, swim and chew gum, bike and chew gum…but you’re telling me I can’t breathe and chew gum? Interesting.

In the overall scheme, I understand that there is a risk in breathing in deep and thus swallowing said gum but…

a. there was no posted sign to say ‘No gum’
b. you’ve now ruined my concentration
c. now I feel like a jackass
d. I like to chew gum when I work out, it keeps my mouth from drying out, damnit!

Who would have ever thought someone telling me to spit out my gum would infuriate me so much? If I hadn’t bought a deal for 5 classes, I probably wouldn’t go back, but I’ve registered for another class tomorrow night, and I’m half tempted to chew gum again…just to prove a point.


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