Thursday, August 19, 2010


Hi, my name is LK and I have a problem with caffeine.

I started drinking coffee I think in Middle School and by the time I reached High School, I would brew a pot of coffee and be up all night finishing papers. When undergrad started, I was pretty much living on a very expensive habit of lattes and mochas as well as that Awake Tazo tea...I was never without my trusty travel mug. Hours were spent studying in Borders with endless refills…to this day, their coffee turns my stomach.

I would say that, between the ages of 18 and 21 I probably consumed about 6 caffeinated beverages a day…maybe 10 when studying for finals. Are you shocked by this? You have seen nothing yet.

By the time my first year of law school came to a close, I was a full fledged addict. That 1L year killed me – constant all-nighters or functioning on 2-3 hours of sleep just to stay ahead, coupled with 8:00am classes, I was a disaster. I am talking large coffees at 10pm…11pm. In the mornings I was often up at 4:00am or 5:00am to get through assignments I couldn’t finish the night before…by the time my first class would roll around, my stomach was solid acid due to the coffee and I would switch to Diet Mountain Dew for my first class then back to coffee for the rest of the day…often a few Red Bulls would make their appearance at night. I cannot even guess the amount of caffeine I was taking in – 12 drinks a day? 15?

Sick yet? I did that for 3 years.

During my last finals period in law school, my tongue and lips started to go numb. No feeling at all. A doctor told me that it was from too much caffeine…the caffeine was leaching the calcium out of my body, causing my mouth to go numb. This doctor, also a friend, knew that there was no way I was laying off the caffeine in the middle of finals and told me to take a heavy dose of Tums everyday to get my calcium levels back up. Feeling returned to my mouth. I kept downing the lattes.

After that finals period, I laid off the caffeine for a bit until I started studying for the bar exam…the consumption again went sky high, but as soon as the exam was over, I was back to having maybe only 4 cups of coffee a day. I was in control.

When I started at my first law firm, I was again working on 3 hours of sleep and my stress level was through the roof. The morning usually started with two cups of coffee before I left the house, a travel mug for the road and probably 6 cups throughout the day. I also discovered RockStar energy drinks at this point (the white can, in case you are curious). I usually had one or two of those a day. About a year into that job I started seeing spiders in my peripheral vision. Weird, right? Since hallucinations are never a good sign, I went to the doctor. She told me that the combination of too much caffeine and a high stress job were causing my brain to send out the ‘spider’ warning signal. I was told that I had to keep it at 4 cups of coffee a day and no cups on high stress days. I fell asleep at my desk everyday for a month…but the spiders stopped.

Last summer I switched jobs and States and had to take the bar exam again while working. Hello Coffee and Java Monster…oh, and 5 Hour Energy and 7 Hour Fuel hit the scene. I distinctly remember standing in my Sister-in-Laws/Brother’s kitchen having just finished up a hot summer run, actually vibrating and having chest pains…and I thought, enough is enough…after I get through this exam. I took a swig of my Java Monster and went to study.

After the exam I got my caffeine levels down to a decent level (probably 4-5 cups of coffee a day) and swore off energy drinks except for the occasional 5 Hour energy before a long run. I have since also given up the 5 Hour energies completely. The past few weeks though, I hit a downward spiral. Work has been crazy and my stress level has been high. I am guessing maybe 7-10 cups of coffee a day?  And I started seeing spiders. I knew what that meant, but I was on a role. Then I started having nightmares. Then this morning I had such an extreme dizzy spell that I had to grip onto my desk for support as the room turned sideways. And my tongue is numb.

And I am drinking water and not having anymore caffeine today.

I am telling all of you this so that you can look at your own bad habits honestly. Assess them. Recognize where you need to change. And for goodness sake, lay off the caffeine.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Back To The Races

I went for a run yesterday.  It was humid and my legs were exhausted from New Rules, but I went anyway.  Why?  Besides the fact that this blog is Run, Lift, Chant, Breathe, I have several upcoming races.  I haven't been running as much as I'd like to, but I do not think I should have any problem completing the 5K scheduled for this weekend.  It may not be my best time ever, but I can certainly run the 3.1 miles.

Next up is a 10K that I am a little more nervous about as it means I will have to find the time to increase my weekly mileage.  Right now I am clocking in at about 11 miles per week (two 3 mile runs and one 5 mile run) get into 10K form I will need to be fitting in, at the least, one 3 mile run, one 4 mile run and one 7 mile run [Meri and Chrissy, please be aware that that 7 mile run includes you two chugging along with me - sorry].  Ideally I would like to be getting in an additional 3 mile run during that training...we will see how it goes. 

After that is the Rome Boulevard Road Race - at my high school!  No link available yet but I believe this is a 10K with a 5K option [Tammy - feel free to correct me here]

              And here is the correction: Tammy said...

                  "the rome blvd race is a 5 mile race with a 2 mile fun run option! :)"

Finally, there is a 5K trail run.  I have heard that this is a tough, athletic course with big competition.  Just my thing...ha!  But this race is in remembrance of some very important people, and thus I am lining up with the others and hoping for the best.  I suppose we can move our long runs to a trail in preparation for this race...but that seems like a lot of planning.

Why am I laying this out for you?  Here is the deal.  The first 5K is this weekend, the next 10K also includes  a 5K and is on Labor Day (September 6), October 3 is the Rome Boulevard Road Race and the Trail Race is on October 10, 2010.  All of these races are in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  If you have started running, have been running, or would like to begin running and you want to sign up for any of these races, I will be there.  If you run at my pace or slower (I race at about 9:30 per mile), I will run with you.  Really.  I may even bring you a Run, Lift, Chant, Breathe swag bag for showing up.  I can get you links to training programs and I can offer advice.  I am not concerned with my overall time in these races and would rather be there to support new runners.  So there you have it.  Think it over and leave a comment or email me (email is in the "Contact Me" section) and let me know if you are ready to Toe The Line.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Monday afternoon I headed back to the weight room to start in on New Rules Stage 4 after a two week hiatus.  I would like to tell you that this was a fantastic, energizing, empowering workout...but the truth is it was really hard.  Not hard physically but mentally.  I felt weak ... as if I had lost all of the muscle I worked so hard to build Pre-Wrist-Injury.  And I was also scared that I would re-injure my wrist.  Let me tell you, feeling weak and scared is no way to get through a New Rules workout!  These are tough workouts and require all of your mental strength. 

I was smart and kept my wrist brace on the whole time and I backed off adding too much weight to any particular exercise until I see the effects of this first week back.  I also had to keep bracing my mind, reminding myself that with some time and hard work, the strength, definition and confidence will come back.  Overall, it was an exhausting experience.

Back in the locker room, as I drank my chia seed and protein powder recovery shake, I started to perk up.  Often when I am running a race and feel beat down, I remind myself that I am lucky to be able to run.  I am fortunate to be able to push myself hard.  The same goes for recovering from this injury - I am lucky to be able to get back into the weight room.  I am lucky I recovered as fast as I did.  I am lucky to be able to recognize that I can improve with time and dedication. 

Later that night I went to YinYang Yoga where the focus of the class was on need - on how we focus too much on where we need to be in our practice, in our lives.  What happens once we get to that point we needed to achieve?  We look for some other goal by which we need to measure ourselves.  The class focused on tossing that need aside and to embrace where we are now, not on where our minds are telling us we need to be.  It was the perfect follow-up the afternoons weight lifting lesson.

The next time any of you are feeling weak and scared, possibly like a failure, I hope you are able to see that you are fortunate and are lucky in your lives as well and that where you need to be is exactly where you are.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Basic Tomato Mixture

I have not shared a recipe with you girls and guys in awhile and I thought a dinner recipe would be a nice change from my usual breakfast ideas.  This isn't so much a full on recipe as it is a base for your dinner creations. 

When Bill and I started dating, he made it pretty clear that he was watching his sugar intake.  I was concerned that he wasn't getting enough vegetables.  Enter my Basic Tomato Mixture to save the day!  This is what could loosely be called a tomato sauce and I use it for the base of pretty much everything: chicken saute, pasta, stuffed zucchini, herb sauce for grilled eggplant etc.  You name it, this mixture works for it...except, say, in smoothies.

Basic Mixture
1 Red Onion (or yellow...doesn't matter), chopped
Few cloves of garlic (your preference)
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil (a tablespoon maybe?  I am pretty liberal with the EVOO)
Saute all over medium until onions are soft.  Watch your garlic so it doesn't brown/burn
Add 1 or 2 cans of unsalted tomatoes (stewed, chopped, whole...whatever) OR a few fresh tomatoes
Add a few handfuls of spinach (I use regular, not baby.  Its cheaper)
Add some seasonings...fresh herbs from your garden, mixed dried Italian herbs, some red wine maybe, crushed red pepper.  Go wild!  Or go boring - your call completely.
Saute down until it tastes and looks good to you.

The Add Ins!
You can do pretty much anything here:
Simmer chicken breast in the Mixture
Add it to pasta
Throw in some grated cheese maybe
Cook it with some lean ground turkey and stuff a zucchini or peppers (maybe add bread crumbs and an egg) and bake
Add in cooked chicken sausage
Add in a can of cannellini or butter beans

In this photo its the Basic Mixture plus zucchini from the garden and a can of butter beans:

This is a complete meal (including dairy if you add cheese) and it is delicious.  And Fast!  It may sound like a lot of steps, but I whip this up a few times a week and the time it takes is minimal.

Now for my new secret ingredient!  For years I have been making the Mixture as stated above, but about a month ago I received a pack of Garlic Gold!

I have been adding this stuff to everything, but mostly to the Mixture or to sauteed or grilled veggies. 
Which flavor do I add?  All of them!  Or 1 of them...they are delicious and easy to use because they are mild.  Seriously - Bill even used these all on his own one night to make me some zucchini and it was great!

***My apologies for no weekend post as promised - Bill and I got all gussied up for our anniversary dinner and I was going to do a special post so you all could see what we look like when we are not climbing a mountain...but alas, camera malfunction***