Health & Wellness

Living a healthy and active lifestyle on the road

Living a healthy and active lifestyle on the road

Often times, a job description will include the line “other duties as required”, and we are faced with tasks and assignments that differ from our daily work. In my role as the Marketing Specialist for the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, my work involves program development, conferences/trainings, and grant and contract writing. In addition, I had the opportunity to manage the Maine Building at the Big E in West Springfield, Mass., last month. While not a typical assignment, I was anxious and excited for the challenge as I have attended the Big E for the past 26 of the last 27 years! (The Big E is also known as Eastern States Exposition.)   In preparing for my 22 days at “New England’s Largest Fair,” I packed several snack items, including fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, milk, juice, protein powders and bars, and yogurt. I also planned to make trips to the grocery store during my stay to replenish my fresh produce supply. I checked out the fitness center on the hotel website before I left and found they had a treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical, and weight training equipment…everything I would need to start my day with a good sweat session! Food purchased, gym and work clothes packed, and my itinerary finalized, I loaded up my car and made the trip south to my favorite fair. After four days of set-up before the fair opened, I realized that good walking shoes, plenty of water, and Vitamin C would be part of my survival pack. With most days numbering 12+ hours and several interactions with vendors, customers, and fair staff, my immune system started revolting against me after the first two weeks. By week three, I had a cold and felt run down, but I continued with my normal schedule. Early bedtimes, lots of fruit, juice and Vitamin C, and a few rest days from hitting the hotel gym, I was back and feeling healthy within a few days. I didn’t want my Big E experience to end on a low note, so taking care of myself and my health were at the top of my priorities. If I had been living on fair food the whole time, it might have been a different ending to my trip. With many people now having jobs that require significant travel time, there’s always a way to find healthier eating options and 30 minutes of exercise. Pack a lunch and snacks, stop at the grocery store and stock your hotel fridge for extended stays, walk in the morning or at night, do body weight exercises in your hotel room if no gym is available, and get plenty of sleep. Not only will your body thank you for treating it well, but your customers/clients, employer, and family and friends will also be thankful that you are feeling at the top of your game. The biggest takeaway from my time at the Big E is that putting your health first should always be most important. I worked throughout the fair to eat a balanced diet (a lot of small meals or snacks for energy) and to continually incorporate exercise into my days. I would often walk 3-4 miles a day at the fair, after my 30-40 minutes of morning exercise. I had the occasional fair food (kettle korn being my favorite treat) and took rest days when I felt like my body needed them. By the end, I felt rested, relaxed, and back to being 100percent.  It was an incredible learning experience and resulted in many new friendships, management training, and a lifetime of memories!...

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Milk, Melanoma and Miles

Milk, Melanoma and Miles

Being a runner means so much to me! Being proud of all of my accomplishments, staying healthy and fit, training and putting in the miles, and taking in good nutrition like my favorite post run drink – chocolate milk! This blog is going to to focus on prevention and a risk as a runner. There’s a hundred risks we take everyday that we don’t even think about that could be potentially bad or harmful for health. One of mine was my skin. Going for runs with a tank top and shorts at around 9:30 a.m. and getting back around 10:15 a.m. That can’t be a risk. Yes, it is. That is when the sun is at its peak of UV rays. From 10-4 is when the sun is at its highest UV rays, which increases your risk of cancer. Another bad habit I had was not always applying sunscreen. Always use a sun screen! Add it to your daily routine (just like brushing your teeth). And sunscreen with zinc holds up better to sweat. And last but not least – a hat! A simple hat could protect you scalp from a burn (which could increase your risk of skin cancer). Why am I talking about all this prevention and sun? What does that have to do with drinking chocolate milk and the Moo Squad?! Well, I was all ready and trained up to be a part of the yearly Somerset Sports and Fitness – Lake George Sprint Triathlon with all my Moo Squad teammates and spread the word about the benefits of recovering with chocolate milk. This didn’t get to happen. Shortly before the race, I got a call from the dermatologist to tell me the moles I had on my back were melanoma! I had found a few months ago after coming in from a run. Melanoma!!? The skin cancer that people my age die from? What?! She wanted me to get in as soon as possible for surgery. So I did, and I couldn’t get my incisions wet for two weeks. So, I missed my triathlon. More than anything, I still had unanswered questions. Had it spread to my lymph system? Would I have to have chemotherapy or treatments? Surgery went great. Every doctor commented on how healthy I was as far as my lungs and heart and weight. After surgery I had to go to many different doctors – eye doctor, women’s health doctor (gynecologist), cancer doctor. The cancer didn’t spread to my lymph system! It was a stage 1! All I have to do now is follow up with a dermatologist every 3 months for skin checks and use sunscreen and all my sun protection clothing when I am outside! And sunglasses! This all started with ME and a run and finding a new mole. Check yourself and be smart about your...

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Swim, Bike, Run and Baby

Swim, Bike, Run and Baby

On September 11th, I completed the Lake George-Somerset Sports & Fitness Sprint Triathlon for the third time (2013, 2015, and 2016).  At the beginning of the year I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do this triathlon, but the MooSquad wanted to try to get the entire team to participate.  I waited 8 weeks after having Lauren to make sure that I was physically able to complete, and then I signed up for the Tri.  Knowing that I didn’t want to let down the Moo Squad, I used my team as motivation to train.  I was lucky to have support from the Maine Dairy Promotion and others too.   On race morning, we headed to Lake George nice and early. The weather was predicted to be rainy, but the radar was showing it wouldn’t arrive for a couple more hours. When we got there, I checked my bike tire pressure and got transition set up (switching from swimming to biking to running).  I made sure I left enough time to nurse Lauren and then pump so Keith would have some extra milk for Lauren during the race.  That was certainly a first for me!  While waiting for the race to start, I kept calm by chatting with fellow Moo Squad members Jim and Emilee.  Going into the race, I gave myself a goal of finishing and finishing under 2 hours. I knew that I was certainly not getting a PR, but I did want to give myself a little bit of a goal. After the mandatory race meeting and a nice tribute to remember the September 11th anniversary, it was time to start the race. SWIM: I was in the second wave for the swim, so I got to watch the first group take off before making my way into the water (which actually wasn’t too cold). There weren’t a ton of people in my wave, but there was someone directly beside me at the start.  For the first couple minutes of the swim I felt like I couldn’t get away from them, but eventually we separated.  I hadn’t done any swim training since having Lauren, so I just went at a pace I knew I could maintain. The swim felt like it was taking a long time, and I was very excited to see the last buoy signaling to make the left turn to the swim exit.  I swam as long as I could and didn’t stand up until my hands hit the bottom of the lake. I ran out of the water to transition and got ready to get onto the bike. BIKE: When I got onto my bike I just wanted to get to transition before the rain moved in.  The bike course is a nice route along the Kenenbec River that is relatively flat with a long hill to the transition at the SSF location in Skowhegan.  The first 8 miles went by, and I was still feeling pretty good and excited that the rain hadn’t arrived yet.  Once I started the long slow hill climb I started to slow a bit.  I had only done four 12-mile training rides, so I knew my legs were not in condition to really crank up the last hill.  I kept hoping to finish the bike portion before the rain started.  With about 2 miles left, the winds picked up and I knew the rain wasn’t far behind.  Sure enough, with about 1 mile left, the rain started to come down, and it was coming down pretty hard by the time I got off my...

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Those “crazy” people

Those “crazy” people

By Jim Delorie – sponsored Moo Squad athlete Ever run a 5k or 10k, seen those crazy people on TV running through mud, jumping over walls and jumping in ice cold water?  Maybe someone in the office or a friend has a medal, shirt, or head band from a race they did.  Many of these people have more in common with you then you can imagine, they once could not run a 5k, they once thought about running a “crazy” race. Now they can run, they can jump over walls, climbs cargo nets and finish a “crazy” race. The difference is they tried, and 95% who try succeed at “crazy” races or obstacle course races. I am not going to tell you they are easy; it is the opposite. Actually, they are difficult, but they are also fun and run by the most excepting, supportive people you will meet. Random people will offer a helping hand over a wall or cheer louder then you have ever heard when you complete an obstacle or ring a bell.  And at the end of it all, an amazing volunteer will give you a medal, headband, or T-shirt and you will be overwhelmed with a sense of accomplishment. If this has peaked your interest at all and you start looking around, you will see that races are expensive and mostly outside, in a field or on a mountain.  If you are not ready for that yet but still want to try there is an option for you.  Recently, my Cow Pants and I flew down to Philadelphia and ran a Spartan Stadium Race inside Citizens Bank Park where the Phillies play.  There was no mud, no hills, and only 3 miles – the perfect race to start with; plus you get to explore the park in ways you never would have otherwise.  I ran on the field, did pushups in a locker room, swung on monkey bars on the side walk and ran up a few (many) flights of stairs.  It was a great fun, more fun than I have had at a race in a while. Next is the cost aspect of racing and here is a not so well kept secret…… YOU CAN RACE FOR FREE!  Spartan and others have a great program where you volunteer for the event and get to be on the course, hand out medals, or swag, give instructions at an obstacle, or work at the kids race.  Do this and you get a free T-shirt, Free Race, Free Parking, Free Bag Check, Free Lunch, and can race the same day. All in all one awesome day. So I encourage everyone to take advantage of this.  Race locations are unique. In November, the Stadium Race is at Fenway.  Imagine running on the warning track, sitting in the home dug out for a photo, carrying a sandbag on the green monster.  For a Red Sox fan, there is no cooler venue in the world.  Other Stadium races coming up in 2017 are Lambeau Field (cheese head country), Dallas Stadium, Citi Field, Giants stadium.  If you decide to go to any of these events look for the cow print pants and you will likely find me drinking my post-race chocolate milk (always do this, research show the benefits are enormous) and stop me and say...

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You Had Me At Pumpkin Spice…

You Had Me At Pumpkin Spice…

It’s no secret that Fall is my favorite season of the year.  I anxiously await the arrival of the crisp air, foliage, corn harvest, cattle shows, sweaters, and of course, pumpkin spice everything.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the other seasonal flavors, such as peppermint mocha in Winter, but there’s just something about pumpkin that warms my soul.  From flavored coffee to muffins to yogurt, I find a way to incorporate pumpkin into my daily meals during the fall months.   While my friends and family find my obsession at a concerning level, I say we embrace the spirit of fall and one of the season’s most abundant crops.  Not only are pumpkins a great decorative piece for your home, they can be used in many recipes as substitutes for traditional ingredients.  While pumpkin pie may be the first food that comes to mind, there are so many ways to add canned pumpkin, pumpkin spice, or fresh pumpkin to your recipes.  I’ve included a few of my favorites below. Pumpkin Pie Smoothie:  Ingredients: ¼ cup oats, ground ½ cup canned pumpkin or fresh pumpkin (seasonal) ½ T brown sugar 1T almond butter or Jif Whips Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter (seasonal variety) ½ tsp. cinnamon ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract ¼ tsp. pumpkin pie spice (Trader Joe’s brand is my favorite) ½ cup low-fat milk Handful of ice cubes Recipe: -In a blender, combine all ingredients, starting with the liquid ingredients first and then add in the pumpkin, almond butter, spices, and ice cubes last. -Blend ingredients until desired thickness, pour into a glass or shaker bottle, and top with pumpkin pie spice for a garnish.  For all of us #basic fall people, this hits the spot!    Pumpkin Spice Baked Oatmeal: Ingredients: ½ cup multi-grain oats (I like Trader Joe’s brand) ½ cup milk 1 egg white 4 T canned pumpkin ¼ tsp. baking powder ¼ tsp. cinnamon ¼ tsp. pumpkin pie spice ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract 1T almond butter or nut butter Ramekin dish Cooking spray Recipe: -Preheat oven to 350°F. -Mix wet and dry ingredients in two separate bowls.  Gradually stir dry ingredients into bowl with wet ingredients. -Pour mixture into a ramekin that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until oatmeal is solid. -Allow ramekin to cool and then flip oatmeal onto a plate.  Top with almond butter or your favorite nut butter!   Turkey Pumpkin Chili: Ingredients: 4 oz. ground turkey 1 medium onion, diced 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 can black beans 1 can kidney or pinto beans 1 can (28 oz.) whole, peeled tomatoes (I like the ones with roasted garlic and herbs added in) 1 can pure pumpkin 2 cups vegetable broth 1 T paprika 1 tsp. black pepper 1 tsp. salt ½ tsp. cinnamon Sage leaves Recipe: -Preheat oven to 350°F.  Place ground turkey in a pan and cook for 20 minutes, or until slightly pink in the middle. -In a crockpot, add the ground turkey and remaining ingredients.  Stir thoroughly together to combine. -Allow chili to simmer in the crockpot for 2-3 hours, to fully enhance the flavor of the pumpkin and spices. -Serve in a bowl with shredded cheddar cheese on top.  Enjoy while watching the big game, on a cool Fall day, or at a family dinner! Whether you’re a fan of the cooler nights, love football season (Go Pats!), or have an infatuation with everything pumpkin like me, fall truly is the best time in New England.  We’re so fortunate to have several running trails, beautiful scenery, and family...

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The most wonderful time of the year – Fair season in Maine

The most wonderful time of the year – Fair season in Maine

The last week of August and Labor Day weekend are the unofficial end of summer, and usually a time when people think back on all the fun things they did over the summer and what exciting things are to come.  This year, while I am preparing to return to work after Labor Day, I have been reminiscing about some of the fun things I used to do during the summer time growing up; fairs and field hockey. August is a wonderful time in Maine; the weather is typically beautiful, the days are long, and the fairs are in full swing.  Every year when I start to hear the classic state fair commercials, I get a bit nostalgic, remembering the years I spent going to the fairs.  My older sister and I had the opportunity to spend 2 summers showing cows at the state fairs.  It was an experience that I will never forget. We would spend our days in the barn caring for the cows, cleaning the barn, and “picking tickets” (aka scooping poop).  We would spend many hours getting and keeping the cows ready for the show days.  The show days were usually crazy because cows were constantly being brought to and from the barns and show ring, but they were the whole reason we were there. It was always so great to see the different farmers and cows from around the state.  While I did not continue showing cows at the fairs, most families that show their cows at the fairs continue to go back every year.  It takes a lot of work to bring cows to these fairs and show them off to all those that attend, and I have a great respect for the farmers that share their animals with us all at fairs.  The animals will always be my favorite part of the fair, and I will likely always have a hard time walking by a ‘ticket’ in the barns without ‘picking’ it.  I hope that you take a stroll away from the midway to check out the animals and say hello to your wonderful farmers. Mid-August also marks the start of fall sports seasons, which was field hockey for me.  Field hockey was always a big part of our family and community.  The farmers in our area were instrumental to helping our field hockey program.  After many years of a deteriorating field, the surface was completely redone by local farmers and construction companies.  Growing up in a farming community meant that our field hockey team was made up of several farmers daughters.  One of my former team mates, Lindsey McAdam (Hunter) was also a farmer (Hunter Farm in Unity). She and I played field hockey together for many years, and we are still great friends. This year, we both went back to play in our alumni field hockey game. We were the oldest ladies there (both with new daughters within the last couple months), but we had a great time and didn’t get hurt. Only a couple more years before the freshman class will not have even been born when we graduated high school, but I hopefully will still be playing. As my August comes to a close, so does my summer of maternity leave. Since I am returning to work after Labor Day, I am looking for simple and healthy lunch ideas. Please feel free to send me your go to lunch ideas! Stay tuned for my blog post next month that will recap my next triathlon (SSF/Lake George Tri)....

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