More than just a teeter-totter!

ninjasIt’s already time for Thanksgiving. Say what?! Everyone says, “It goes so fast.” I am here to tell you that it does indeed. So hang on. Embrace the journey. Live in each moment for we never know when the Lord will call us home.

Since May (my last blog entry – yikes!) baby girl has gained two teeth, is crawling and pulling herself up on everything and has tried pears, bananas, applesauce, black olives, pickles, pumpkin, acorn squash, beets, sweet potatoes, peas, green beans, carrots and parsnips. And her favorites? Pickles. Yes, my almost-nine-month-old loves pickles. Go figure!

Also since my last blog, I’ve run my first post-preggo race. And dare I say it felt amazing! I came in only 2 minutes slower than my PR and placed as the 10th overall woman and 2nd in my age group. But the race only had 300 people total. Small. Very small. Yet for fear of sounding arrogant and prideful and everything I hate, I will admit I was pretty darn pleased with myself. The best part was seeing my brother, husband, dad, baby girl and good friends at the finish line. Nothing beets great supporters! Ok, well, maybe free donuts and hugs on a rainy day – but really?

Ok, that’s me. What about YOU? How are you holding up in this holiday season? If you live in the PNW, you’ve officially entered the why-do-I-live-in-a-black-rainy-dungeon time of the year. Winter. Yuck. The reason NONE of us moved here, but begrudgingly endure each year. But granted, we don’t have snow and it rarely gets below 40, so let’s count our blessings. But seriously, how are you doing? Staying active? Eating well? During this time of year, with Thanksgiving and Christmas, it can be hard to stick to a healthy lifestyle. I mean really, who can say no to seconds when it comes to stuffing and pumpkin pie? And peppermint schnapps hot chocolate next to molasses cookies and caramel corn? I give up – fill my cup and plate, good sir!!

But how do we find BALANCE?! How can we have our cake and eat it too…and not watch it giggle on our thighs?

Well, I’m glad you asked. Here are a few (hopefully practical) tips from a RD, runner, lover-of-all-things-sweet, nursing mama:

  1. Give yourself a BREAK! The good Lord created human beings with taste buds. And not just one, but four! We can taste salty, sweet, bitter and sour. To that end, our food is meant to be enjoyed with pleasure and thanksgiving. Food is a gift, a way to celebrate and a way to care for others. So please, especially during the holiday season, give yourself a break! Don’t count each calorie, don’t beat yourself up for eating an extra bowl of ice cream, and don’t feel guilty for a extra serving of ham. But rather enjoy it. Thank the Lord for providing it. And relish in the fact that it tastes good!
  2. Move when you can. With the darkness and the cold and rain, it can be hard to want to exercise. But remember, even a 30-minute sweat sesh can flood your brain with happy hormones, helping you to feel like you did in the summer time (happy, full of life!). Try new activities like snowshoeing or a home workout video or even running the stairs at a local high school stadium. I have found that working out on a Monday can help set the tone for the rest of the week. Why not give that a try.
  3. Eat more fat. I know, I know, this is 100% contrary to what Dietitians have said for the last 30 years. But new science is showing us that full-fat foods might be the way to go. Fat helps to keep you full longer and breaks down more slowly in your body, thus keeping your blood sugar more level. Full-fat foods also tend to contain less added sugar compared to their fat-free counterparts. So don’t feel guilty about reaching for the bacon wrapped date or the full-fat vanilla ice cream. Chances are high that the higher fat food will cause you to eat less and actually consume less calories and sugar in the long run.
  4. Sleep. This can be tough, but make sure you aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. When you become chronically sleep deprived, the hormones which regulate your hunger and fullness get out of whack. Basically, they get flip-flopped. So your body thinks that it’s hungry and not full all the time. And typically, in this state of mind, you crave something high in sugar and simple carbs because your body is saying, “I need to get my blood sugar up, STAT, so I can wake up!” Not a recipe for success. So do as the grizzly bear does and find some time to hibernate this season.
  5. Drink up. Water, that is. Often times we mistake our thirst for hunger. It can be extra difficult to stay hydrated when it’s not hot out. But how do you know if you’re getting enough fluids? Check yo pee, folks! If it flows light yellow or clear, you’re good to go! If it’s dark yellow or golden, grab your water bottle, tea mug and eat more fruits and veggies which contain a bunch of extra water (and fiber!).

Ok, that’s all for this week. Hope to see you back here real soon. Until then (in the words of my husband), “Let your hair down,” and enjoy some delicious food, fellowship with friends and family and some rejuvenating exercise time to yourself to reflect on your blessings.



Back in…Pink?

Ok, having been absent for a YEAR (really?!) I realize there are a few updates I need to state right off the bat from 2014: #1: I had a baby! Yes, two crazies have created another crazy. More on her below. #2: My baby sister got married! She was absolutely stunning and her hubby was a stud. Cheers to them as they venture down the road of marriage. #3: We spent two and a half weeks in the Czech Republic! Brandon and I, another couple, and 7 high school students ventured on a mission trip to spread the gospel to youth in CZ. Amazing adventure, amazing people and truly got to see God working in many lives. We also found out we were pregnant 3 DAYS before we left. Needless to say, morning sickness made for an interesting challenge on the trip! #4: We lost my grandpa. My grandpa Bopa passed away at the age of 90th. He was a genuine man of respect, hard work, loved by his family, humble, stubborn and a fellow lover of ice cream. Actually, he is who I credit my stubbornness and love of vanilla ice cream! He is deeply missed by many. #5 I ran the Vancouver half marathon, while pregnant. No, I did not know it at the time. Yes, I missed my PR by 7 seconds – MAJOR BUMMER! But great race with great friends!! Ran along side three coworkers and roommate from college. Can’t beat that!

Ok, we’re caught up. Back to the baby. We had a beautiful baby girl on February 23, 2015. If you go by when my contractions first started, I was in labor for just under 30 hours. But I would start when contractions got “intense” and I went to the hospital for the first time, which would mean I was in labor for 15 hours. In the interest in preserving my womanhood, I will skip the details and sum up my birth story by saying: I broke down and got an epidural, rainbows and ponies instantly danced around my birthing room, baby girl got stressed and pooped en route, I got cut, baby girl made it out safely, I was stitched, and Brandon and I cried like little girls as we welcomed our daughter into the world.

Ok, now pre-baby (please excuse my randomness. it is truly evidence of mommy brain!). Throughout my pregnancy, I tried to stay as active as my body would allow. I ran until I was 28 weeks. It got pretty rough at the end and I pushed it a little too hard on a 7-mile run with my brother. Don’t worry, My hips and groin muscles screamed at me the entire next week. When I gave up running, I switched to walking and swimming. NOTE TO PREGGO MOMMAS: Swim!! It seriously was amazing to feel weightless in the water and be able to exercise with no pain or strain. As far as eating goes, well, let’s just say there were times (many times) that I didn’t brag about being a dietitian. I craved everything sugar, including root bear floats, cinnamon candy, ice cream (shocker!), and fruit. And I have to admit, I fully indulged in far too many cravings. However, my saving grace was my short torso and subsequent placement of baby girl in my ribs and stomach. Hence, until she dropped at around 36 weeks, I felt like I’d explode if I simply ate a piece of lettuce. Hence, my pregnancy weight gain was around 25 pounds total. Upon her arrival, I lost 16 of it immediately. Once my milk came in, I thought I was going to eat my arm off. Everything in the house was consumed, health and unhealthy, and I still lost a few more pounds. Unfortunately, this ravenous binge didn’t stop. Between my constant eating and the justification of, “I can eat that, I’m nursing,” I gained a few pounds back. Awesome. I felt like a failure, a fatty, a bloated dairy cow (to use exact wording).

Which brings me to present day. I’m now 10 weeks post-baby and starting to get back into a routine of healthy eating and exercising. I’ve been running sparingly for 4 weeks and walking a lot. I’ve got about 10-15 pounds to lose and long way to go to get back to my pre-baby fitness level, but I’m taking it one step at a time. With patience, commitment, accountability and realistic goals, I’m back on a healthy path of achieving my goals. I’m going to give myself a break and enjoy every minute of being a new mom to the most beautiful girl!!

Why do I take the time to write all this? #1 So you see me as a real person with struggles and failures, same as everyone else. #2 To relate to all the other mamas out there who think they might be the only ones struggling with finding a healthy balance with their family and body, post baby. #3 To keep myself accountable to my goals.

So that’s where this blog is headed: babies, exercising, food, goals, nursing, and more. For now, my challenge is to you: WHAT GOAL CAN YOU SET FOR YOURSELF THIS WEEK? Make is simple, attainable (and dare I say easy?!) so you can reach it this week.

Talk to ya’ll soon!


ec 3

Our team in the Czech Republic.


Baby Girl in Daddy’s arms.

State of the Herron Address

Hey ya’ll!

So…I truly wish I could have some exciting news to share as a result of the past year and a half of silence. Maybe something like, I made a baby. Or, I trained for an Ironman. Or, we moved to Turkey and now fill our bellies with Turkish Delight each day. Ah, if only…

Sadly, I have no legitimate reason for the past year and a half of electronic silence. I can only say that I am excited to jump start this blog and start answering your questions and motivating you towards a healthier life. Lord knows I’m in desperate need of a jump start myself, so I will be practicing what I preach.

In the spirit of a tradition started by the encouragement of my Aunt, my Adventure List has now been updated with 28 new adventures. I’d like to try my hand at Crossfit, the Paleo diet, and kombucha. It’s a fun way to try new things, dream big and motivate yourself toward goals!

This week, my challenge to you: Create your own adventure list with as many items as you are old!

Short and sweet, more to come later. Enjoy your weekend and stay tuned for more health, fitness and nutrition tips coming your way soon!!

Work a Little, Gain a lot!!

A lot can happen in six weeks. Start a new job; eliminate gluten and dairy; win the Boston Marathon. Hey, a girl can dream, right?! But one thing that didn’t take place was a new blog entry. My apologies, y’all. Time to pick it up a notch.

So we’ve entered that time of the year when a glimpse of the sun is a rarity and a privileged treasure.  It’s dark in the morning when I leave for work, it’s dark in the evening when I get home. It’s cold. It’s damp. It’s icy and snowy (well, maybe not in Portland!). Ahhhh the good ol’ Pacific Northwest. All this downer weather can make it harder and depressing to find the energy and gumption to hit the gym and get moving on the roads. However, with the increase of sugar-laden goodies during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, your waistband will appreciate time spent gettin’ on your sweet. To sweeten the deal, a moderate amount of exercise may be attributed to a decreased appetite. Check out this article I received from the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

Ok, so you don’t have a gym and, let’s be honest, you’re not going to run outside in five feet of snow. Have no fear, these tips will help you maintain your exercise level through the cold winter months:

1. Take a hike around the nearest indoor mall. You can even kill two birds with one stone by shopping while you walk.

2. Talk to the PE teacher at your local high school about a morning open gym. Often times, the gym and the weight room are open for students and staff.

3. Go snowshoeing, snowboarding, downhill skiing or xc skiing. You can enjoy the beautiful outdoors while building up a sweet and your leg muscles.

4. Turn your home into a workout room. You can rent an at-home videos from your local library, use your own body weight or purchase cheap, simple dumbbells or strength bands at your local Wal-Mart.

5. Keep an eye on local health club specials. The holiday season will often act as a platform for reduced, month-to-month rates.

So no more excuses this holiday season. I challenge you to increase your exercise, decrease your sugar consumption and create a few healthy family traditions this year!!

The Mental Games

It’s been three days and I can finally raise my arms above my shoulders without wincing in pain. My forearms look as if I was thrown into a one-on-one fight with a blackberry bush…and I lost. My knees and shins look as if Babe Ruth had a round of batting practice. And through all this pain, soreness and bruises…I couldn’t feel more alive!

This weekend, a group of family and friends and I completed a 12-mile obstacle course named “Tough Mudder.” The course was designed by British Special Forces and it claims to be the toughest event on the planet. Obstacles consist of running through live wires, jumping into an ice bath, crawling in the gravel and mud under barbed wire and inverted monkey bars – to name only a few. And yes, we did pay for this brutal torture. But one of the coolest components of this event is that 100% of the proceeds directly support the Wounded Warrior Project. If you’re a few screws loose and want to learn more about this event, check out their website at: 

One of the most important elements of this event, and any long-endurance event, is a competitor’s mental capacity or mental toughness. Runners will often say, “It’s all in your head.” Translation: the thoughts you think will either negatively or positively affect the outcome of your athletic event. Psychologists call this the Cognitive-Behavioral perspective in that a person’s thoughts affect his feelings which affect his actions. Consequently, athletes strive to consciously think positive thoughts, such as, “I can win this!” or “Only one more mile,” or “You’ve done it before, you can do it again.” As soon as negative thoughts begin to enter the mind, an athlete can feel discouraged, depressed, and unmotivated.

So what can you, as an athlete or simply someone wanting to achieve his or her health goals, do to improve your mental toughness?

1. Talk to yourself – whether it’s in your head, in the mirror or out loud, affirm positive comments to yourself

2. Establish SMART goals (S=specific, M=measurable, A=achieveable, R=realistic, T=time specific). Goals will help keep you motivated to work towards something positive

3. Visualization – close your eyes and take time to visualize yourself completing a race or a task successfully

4. Shake It Off – if you encounter a barrier, shake it off instead of dwelling on it

5. Focus on the Present – take it one day at a time instead of overwhelming yourself with the unknown of the future

6. Focus on the Positive – seemingly obvious, but focus on the “good” instead of the “bad”

7. Don’t Beat Yourself Up – sometimes your worst critic is yourself. When you’re tempted to cast the first stone, take a step back and ask, “Would I treat my friend like this?” If the answer is no, then set the rock down and allow yourself some grace

8. Find Your Cheerleader – we all need someone who believes in us; whether it’s a coach, a spouse, a child, a teacher, or a mentor, be sure to find someone who will encourage you along the way

9. Establish Rituals – establish a routine and stop thinking about the final results; this can help prevent your brain from getting in the way; Nike said it well, “Just Do It!”

10. Practice Up – whenever possible, train or practice with someone above your experience level; this will force you to grow and become a stronger competitor, allowing for more success on race day

As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t. You’re right.”

Take the first steps today to developing and conditioning your mental toughness to make you an even stronger competitor in whatever “race” you are competing!!

My First Time

First time: Right hamstring. Seconds after crossing the finish line at the Coeur d’Alene Marathon 2011. Literally froze in my tracks, unable to take another step.

Second time: Right foot. About 45 minutes after finishing the Eugene Marathon 2012. Took my shoe off in the car and my foot was literally stuck in a flexed, crocked position. Kind of freaked me out.

Third time: Right calf. Middle of cycling class two weeks ago. Had to stop for a few seconds then take the rest of the class easy. Sore for the rest of the night.

If you ask a seasoned runner if they’ve ever cramped, I mean rolling-on-the-ground-someone-put-me-out-of-my-misery cramp, I guarentee he or she will remember the place, location and almost the exact time. That’s how much pain and dissapointment a cramp can cause. It can ruin a race within seconds, rendering the runner helpless and defeated.

There are three different “classifications” of cramping that typically occur during running:

1. Side cramp = a pain in your side or lower abdominal area. Typically a result of shallow breathing

2. Stomach cramp = pain in your middle core area, a.k.a your stomach. Again, typically a result of shallow breathing but also can occur from too much fluid or food before the run

3. Muscle cramp = physical pain and/or tightening of a centralized muscle, typically occuring in the leg

How can an athlete avoid cramping while running?

1. Practice deep breathing = Place your hands on your stomach and breath deep. Also, try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth…slowly.

2. Slow down = Side cramps typically occur with new runners who start their run too quickly. Slow your roll at the beginning of a run and pick it up after the first mile. If the cramp still persists, walk it out for a few minutes. Seasoned runners naturally shift to deep breathing, so give yourself time to naturally make the transition.

3. Relax = Nervousness can lead to shallow breathing. Take a few deep breaths before the race and try to put your mind at ease.

4. Eat Earlier = A general rule of thumb is to eat 2 hours before a run. However, if you’re still experiencing stomach cramps, try eating 3-4 hours before a run. Also, try to avoid drinking copious amounts of fluid right before the start of a run. This can cause cramping and also just be plain uncomfortable.

5. Eat What Works = If you find you always eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich prior to a run but always get stomach cramps, perhaps you should try eating something different? Each runner is different and will be affected differently by different food. Find what works for you by experimenting…but I’d recommend experimenting before race day!

6. Hydrate = Make sure you drink enough water. General rule of thumb suggests 15-20 ounces 45 minutes before a run and 2-4 ounces every 15 minutes. But again, don’t overdue it or you’ll suffer the consequences of stomach cramping.

7. Balanced Diet = Make sure to eat your fruits and veggies to ensure you are taking in adequate amounts of sodium, calcium, magnesium and potassium, which can help prevent muscle cramping.

Fact or Fiction: If I eat a banana before my race, I won’t cramp?

Fiction. There is a common misconception associated with the magical power of bananas to ward off any sign of unwanted cramping. Does the potassium in bananas help prevent cramping? Yes. What about sodium, does loading my pre-race stir fry with salt help prevent cramping? Yes. And even drinking a class of milk packed with calcium will help prevent muscle cramping. However, most often than not, cramping occurs from a lack of improper hydration. It is true that an inbalance or deficiency in one of these elctrolytes can lead to a muscle cramp; however, most of us are not running ultra marathons (in which case you need to supplement with salt blocks due to loss of sodium) and are eating a balance of fruits and veggies through which our bodies receive adequate amounts of these electrolytes.

So the moral of this story, make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day and be sure to eat a healthy and balanced diet!


Going Ape for the Paleo Diet?

Another recent buzzword in the diet/nutrition/health world is the Paleo Diet. In a nutshell, the Paleo diet suggests eating foods which would have been found during the time of our ancestors. This means a diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish and seeds/nuts. Which also means no dairy, no grains, no legumes, no sugar, no salt.

In order to better address the topic (and questions), I did recently read, “The Paleo Diet for Athletes,” which was written by Dr. Loren Cordain and Joe Friel, founders of the Paleo Diet. The book is interesting and worth a read as it provides scientific support for why the Paleo Diet can be successful. It also addressed questions and concerns which have been raised about the diet. I’d highly recommend it.

Additionally, I stumbled upon a great article today, addressing the pros and cons of the Paleo Diet. Whether you are “for” or “against” the diet, this article presents both sides and leaves you, the consumer, to make your own decision.

As a dietitian and an average-Jane human being, my best advice is to always remember the mantra, “Everything in moderation!” No matter your dietary choices, make sure to keep it balanced and healthy, while also remembering that food and eating is meant to be enjoyed and give pleasure to the consumer!!