Archive for August, 2010

August 29, 2010

Or, how to properly take an ice bath.

I know I’ve talked about how much I adore baths.  Give me a big glass of wine and a deep tub any day and I am instantly in a better mood.  So, why, you might ask, would I ever throw in such a frigid alternative to something that evokes such good thoughts?  Because, while it may be uncomfortable for a few minutes, it really provides great benefits.  I began ice baths last year during my half marathon training, again during the hooping the half marathon training, now while I’m training for more races, and I swear by them.  Push your body and muscles to the brink of exhaustion, take an ice bath, and by the time you’re ready for another long run the next week, your legs will be good as new!  I usually notice that “new legs” feeling within about 5 days.

How does it work?  The ice water shocks your muscles and creates teeny-tiny tears in your muscles.  This triggers a response in your body to immediately begin repairing this large area.  Sometimes you have to break something down in order to build it back up.  It works quicker than if you’re just getting soreness and fatigue and try to “rest” it out on your own and hope you feel better in a couple weeks.  You actually jumpstart your body’s response to help repair, restore, and rebuild your muscles.  It also constricts the blood vessels and your body’s natural response to cold is to shunt the blood to your core and away from your extremities.  So once you take that hot shower afterwards, it opens up the blood vessels and allows fresh oxygenated blood to rush back in and and help repair your body, as well as flush out the lactic acid.  You will have less downtime in training and likely less injury.  Additionally, the ice bath works better than just “icing” a muscle.  Ice combined with water is actually colder than ice alone, for example adding a little bit of water to an ice pack when icing a smaller area.

Ice Bath Tips

1.  Apparel: After a long workout when your legs feel sluggish or sore, don a pair of compression tights and compression top.  I actually use an old spandex dance unitard, and put a long-sleeve compression top over it.  I keep on my running socks, then put a pair of very thick socks over them and make sure they come up over the bottom of my tights, so no/less water seeps into the tights.  A-ha!  You thought I meant ice bath in your birthday suit!  I may be crazy, but not THAT crazy.   You should really protect yourself from direct exposure to the ice.  Believe me, you’ll be cold enough with all of these clothes on.

2.  Ice: For your first ice bath, I recommend starting with the ice from your freezer.  Which may be around 5 lbs.  Eventually over time you can work up to a 7-10 lbs bag from the store, then adding the freezer ice to the store bought bags, getting up to 15 lbs.  Finally, the brave go up to 20 lbs or more.  This weekend, I bought three 7 lbs bags for a grand total of 21 lbs.

3.  Timing: First of all I recommend taking a kitchen timer with you to watch the time count backwards.  The first ice bath you take, you will probably only want to start with about 7-10 mins.   Eventually you will work up to about 15 mins, and for those really tough days, you can go up to 20+ mins.  However, please be careful in going longer than 10-15 mins, you don’t want to get hyperthermia or frost bite, which can set in quickly.  Get out before you start getting any numbness.

4.  Setting up the Bath: Pull up the drain before starting.  When you place the ice in to the bath, try to dump it closer to the drain.  I do not recommend spreading out the ice across the entire tub.  You want to have the majority of the ice where your legs are.  Believe me, if you sit on a piece of ice, it will freeze to your butt and won’t move, it will be the only piece that will not melt, and you DO NOT want to reach your hand down in there to move it.  I try to concentrate the ice where my calves are, the smaller parts of my body that are less likely to trap ice under it.

5.  Taking the Bath: Grab a magazine or your favorite book.  I usually like to also keep something to drink nearby as I’m usually still rehydrating after a long run.  Lower yourself into the bath on top of the ice.  Settle yourself down into the ice if you’d like, moving your legs to sink deeper and push the ice to the sides so it will float up quicker and easier.  Then turn on the bath water.  Start with the water in the middle (not hot, not cold) position and move over to cold as much as you can stand it.  Do not make the water warmer than the middle position, because you might as well just not take an ice bath at all.  Go big or go home!  Allow the water to fill up to the point it covers your legs, and your hips if they’re also troublesome.  Try to sit upright, instead of leaning back, no need to get colder than necessary.

6.  Breathing and Distractions: The water will get REALLY cold!  Which means that it will be an initial shock to your body.  You have to remember to BREATHE!  Take very slow deep breaths.  If you allow yourself to gasp for air from the shock, you will get lightheaded quickly, not something you want in a bathtub filling with water.  Feel free to let out a few screams as you exhale (I do!) or use any Lamaze techniques you know.  That initial shock only lasts about 3-5 minutes as the ice melts.  By 5 mins, the ice has melted and it is much more bearable.  Read your book or magazine or whatever you can to keep yourself distracted.  The time will pass quickly.

7.  The Best Part: Once your ice bath is over, drain the water and remove your cold, wet clothes.  Now you can take a hot shower for as long as you want.  It will feel amazing!  Then in a few days your legs will feel renewed.

I always thought the idea of an ice bath was crazy.  Until I tried them.  You can think I’m crazy, but I have had the best results from them and will continue take them.  Besides what is 20 minutes compared to not losing any time in training, and possibly shaving off a few minutes at the finish line!  And being able to walk the next day!

Take a walk on the West side
August 25, 2010

I used to live in West Nashville and only recently moved.  It has its own brand of weird, but it doesn’t flaunt its weirdness like the “other” side of town does.  I lived there for most of my life and still adore it.  After running a couple errands at lunch today, I was reminded three times today within about 10  minutes why I love the weirdness of West Nashville.

1. Hairstyles
Sitting at a traffic light, I couldn’t get my camera out fast enough to catch this beautiful updo.  Not only did this fine lady get her “hair did” in bright Oscar The Grouch green on the top, but she also included a lovely Cookie Monster shade of blue on the bottom.  You go girl!!

Click on the picture to zoom in on the woman walking just above the mirror.

2. Sketchy store
When I was little, this little market was pretty much where we went for everything.  Just a little neighborhood store.  Well, it changed ownership a few years ago and it is suspect at best now.  I stepped inside once only to find that there wasn’t really anything for sale, or at least nothing that I wanted or could legally buy.  The sign has been falling apart for years.  But apparently now they sell oral, but I don’t think I want to know what “Newpop” is.  Probably something equally as sketchy.

3. Crossing the street
In West Nashville, you cross the street whenever you like and wherever you like.  Unfortunately I didn’t catch this one on camera because A. I was trying not to hit him, and B. I was still in awe of the aforementioned hair-do.  This guy was crossing in the middle of a 5 lane busy road just a couple hundred feet shy of the actual crosswalk and intersection, walking with his push-mower.  No, there is no grass around, and he was walking from the side of the street with a drug store and an insurance company to the other side with 2 tire shops for cars.  Don’t mind me, I’m just taking my lawnmower for a stroll!

Pose, Sweat, and Fears
August 17, 2010

Or otherwise known as Hot Yoga.  I recently experimented with this form of torture exercise.  I had a gift certificate for an unlimited month of hot yoga at a studio near my house.  I figured it’s about the temperature of Satan’s armpit outside right now, so how much different could it be?  Oh, excu-use me!

First, let me preface this by saying I actually enjoyed it after a while.  It is quite the workout (and I’m a bit of a glutton for punishment with exercise), and you really feel like you release a lot of toxins by the end of the class.  So I would feel healthier and cleaner by the end.  But not without fully dripping from literally every single portion of my body.  Did you know your shins sweat?  Profusely!  It is not something I would continue on a regular basis, but I think it’s good every now and then for strength, flexibility, and detox.  I attended between 3-4 classes a week and this is my summary of a hot yoga class in case you’re interested.

1. Arrive for the first class wearing as little as you are comfortable wearing.  Quickly realize you’re way overdressed and may overheat just waiting for class to start.

2. Meet your new teacher, who’s really excited, but also warns you that you might feel dizzy or nauseous, and it’s quite normal.  She suggests that you just lie down until it passes, but if you have to leave, you’re not allowed back in.  Pussy!

3. Set up your mat in the back of the room with a towel on top of the mat.  Don’t worry it will be soaked within the first 10 minutes.  Also, set a bottle of water next to your mat.  Oh you forgot to bring a gallon jug?  And you forgot to add ice cubes to it?  Sucks to be you!

4. Class begins and you do this weird breathing thing with your hands under your chin, for what seems like forever.  Everyone else is making weird “HA” noises as they tilt their heads back to breathe out.

5. Then go through a series of poses.  Each pose is assumed twice.  Beware if the pose requires you to hold another part of your body, like your foot.  It will immediately slip out of your hand from all the sweat!

6. Realize that the teacher has not stopped talking the entire time.  Literally.  Has she stopped to breathe yet?  Is she a robot?

7. Come to full realization that it’s about 104º in the room and the humidity is set at about 60%.  Oh gawd you might die now.

8. No really, the teacher is still talking non-stop.  And she’s not doing the poses with you.  Cheater!  What?  You can’t hang with the rest of us weirdos?

9. Now it’s time for the inverted poses.  Yes, that’s right, stuff where your head is upside down.  Aw crap, I have salty sweat stinging my eyeballs.  Ew and it just ran into my nose!

10. With every pose the teacher keeps saying: “Only 30 more seconds.  Only 10 more seconds.”  Awesome, I’ll just count backwards to work through this.  Wait a minute lady that was most definitely NOT 10 seconds.  Where did you learn to count?  “Half-way there” my ass!

11. Ooh, a water break.  Oh no, I drank it all and we’re only 1/3 of the way through the class.

12. I’m distracted.  The guy next to me is sweating so profusely, the water is literally pouring out of his gym shorts.  I thought he was actually peeing.

13. Yay another water break before the floor poses.  Well, we’re on the floor now it can’t be any harder.  Wait, where do you want me to put my leg?

14. Another strange breathing exercise where you breathe out loudly and quickly in succession for a couple minutes.  The entire class sounds like they are practicing Lamaze.

15. Finally, shavasana (corpse pose).  I can just lie here, I feel like a sweaty corpse.  I’m sure I look like death.

16. Wait, what is this wonderful thing you’ve put in my hand?  A cold rag with lavender essential oils?  Oh yes.  This is the most wonderful rag in the entire world.  I will cherish it forever!

17. Return to class a couple days later and about 8 minutes into the class realize you only came back for the cold rag.  Crap, 82 more minutes before the end of class.

Lobster Pot Pie
August 15, 2010

Yes, you read that right.  I not only made pot pie, but Lobster Pot Pie!  Here is the special dinner I made for July 4th for Beloved, who loves lobster.  It was a big hit and actually not very difficult.  Well, it’s not too difficult as long as you have some experience with getting the meat out of a lobster.  Fortunately this Southern Girl was actually born a Yankee and I was cracking open my own lobsters before I could even sit in a full-sized adult chair at the dinner table.  However, if you do not possess this skill or don’t have the time or patience to learn, you can usually find cooked lobster meat at a seafood counter, but you’ll have to ask nicely and probably pay a little more for it.

Lobster Pot Pie
adapted from Cosmopolitan (don’t laugh, I came across the link from another unrelated online story)

2 – 2 cup (at least 12 oz.) individual ovenproof  ramekins (These were very hard to find. I finally found them very cheap at Big Lots, thank you Lesley!)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 onion, diced
1 carrot diced (I bought carrot sticks and just chopped into cubes)
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk (or soy milk)
1 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth, I prefer low sodium)
1/2 lb cooked lobster meat*
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 of 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (keep refrigerated until ready to use and freeze the remaining)
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375°.
Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add diced onion and carrot.  Cook, continuing to stir for around 5 minutes.  Add corn and peas.  Stir in flour.  Cook for 1 minute.

Add milk and broth, constantly stirring.  Cook until sauce thickens (approx. 5 min).  Remove from heat, add lobster meat*, thyme, then salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

* Cooking lobster: If you choose to cook your own lobster, here’s how.  I don’t recommend attempting a whole lobster on your first try, but you can easily master 2-3 lobster tails to serve your purpose here.  You need 1/2 lb of meat, keep in mind that if you buy the tails, the shells add weight, but the seafood counter can help you get approximately the right amount.
Usually the tails will be frozen.  You can leave them out in your refrigerator overnight to thaw, or you can set them in a bowl of water until thawed.  Set tails top side (the dark side) down (little legs poking up) on a roasting pan, making sure to tuck in any meat into the end.

Broil on high for 6 minutes.  Remove tails and allow to cool.  Using kitchen shears, cut down the bottom side of the tail.  Remove the tail meat.  Here’s the gross part, you will need to devein and wash off the meat.  If you are ambitious you can attempt to remove the meat from the rest of the lobster.  Waste not, want not.  Cut or tear the meat into smaller bite-sized pieces.  Then add the meat to the mixture above.

Remove the pastry from the refrigerator.  Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8″ thick.  (I just love my pastry rolling pin, it also works great for the pizza rolls recipe!  If you find one of these, I highly recommend them!)

Use the top of the ramekin as a guide to cut 2 circles for the top of the pot pies, cutting a little larger than the bowl.  Spray the ramekins with baking spray and place on a baking sheet or roasting pan to catch any runoff during baking.  Spoon filling into the ramekins.

Place one circle of the puff pastry on the top of each ramekin.  Press the edges of the pastry into the ramekin to seal.

Cut a vent or two in the center of the pastry to vent air and moisture during cooking, then brush the entire surface of the pie with the egg.

Bake about 35 min. until the pastry is puffed and turns dark golden brown.  Remove from oven, allow to cool, and wow your dinner partner with this special flare on a comfort food.

Say what?
August 6, 2010

I play this little game when I commute (or go on long car trips – anything to entertain myself, I hate being in a car longer than an hour).  It’s called the Figure-Out-What-The-Hell-That-Vanity-Plate-Means game.  Seriously people, you only get 7 spaces, if it’s not immediately obvious or you have to abbreviate out more than half of the letters, just stop!

1. There is a vehicle that parks in our office garage.  I use the term vehicle loosely.  It is one of the very few modes of transportation that I file under “utterly ridiculous.”  It is a Cadillac Escalade pickup truck.  (Really, what is the purpose of those things?   So rap stars can go to Home Depot and fit in with the common folk?)  Not only is this overpriced, oversized truck always in our lot, it’s in the visitor spaces, taking up at least 2 spaces several times a week, and the guy who drives it will nearly drive over you pulling in and out of the garage without even a second glance!  But what is even more ridiculous is the license place:


Yes, I can tell from your choice of mode of transportation that you’re “high maintenance.”  You’re probably also overcompensating for something else.

2. Then, the other day I was driving to the office, in my usual morning commute, when I came up on a Lexus SUV (*eye roll*) from Williamson County (a very affluent area; in fact the real housewives of Williamson County could put NYC to shame!).  Didn’t take me long to decipher the plates:


Well if this guy really is a Mack Daddy, I need to see if it’s either Kris or Kross who is driving this car!  I lay on the gas and pull up beside the driver side only to see a typical soccer-dad holding his overpriced-coffee-chain cup.  Really guy?  You’re the Mack Daddy?