How to Train for a Half Marathon Like a Boss

So, you’ve signed up for a half-marathon eh? Congrats! I can only imagine the excitement and nerves. One of my happiest moments in my life was when I completed my first half marathon in Fall 2013. It was the Nike Women’s Half Marathon (sad they stopped that race) and it was a magical experience. It’s pretty crazy to think that this Sunday I’m going to run my 7th half marathon, this time in Santa Cruz!

Now I am no expert or certified coach, but I am someone who’s had a fair share of trial and error when preparing for half marathons. Here are some tips I wish I had when I first started training:

Planning

  • Select a race! This part is so exciting and what makes training so much more real! When choosing a race think about what matters to you: is it the cost, the location, the scenery, the course terrain, the date? Then use sites like Running in the USA to help you find the perfect race.
  • Find a training plan: The Nike Run Club app is a great place for a customized plan otherwise the Hal Higdon Half Marathon Training Guide is a reliable resource. Or maybe you want to do some research and join an in-person training group ( I LOVE this option).
  • Choose your long-run day: it’s important to dedicate one day out of the week for your long-run. I’ve personally prefer Saturday as mine!

Workouts

  1. Run at least 3 times a week: Personally, I usually run no more than 4 times a week because my body does get quite tight from running so I like to cross-train or strength train instead on other days.
  2. Speaking of strength training, Make sure you’re doing. I neglected strength training when I first started running half marathons and it was a big mistake that led to injury. I find it especially important to strengthen your core & glutes because we easily forget about those two when running. I highly recommend POP Pilates videos for core work!
  3. Find a buddy: Running partners are great for accountability and motivation. They are super helpful for long runs.  Ten miles by yourself may sound daunting, but with a friend or two to keep you company, those miles fly by easily.
  4. Foam rolling is your new best friend. Foam roll, stretch, or do yoga on a consistent basis to help relieve muscle tightness for ideal recovery. You should be scheduling time for foam rolling in your training regime.

^ugh I miss these necklaces…

Nutrition

  1. Training for a half marathon isn’t an excuse to eat/drink everything in sight…unfortunately. Eat wholesome, nutrient-dense meals when training for a half marathon. Don’t overdo alcohol, caffeine, and heavy foods.
  2. Be mindful of what you eat the night before and the morning of long-runs and races. For dinner I’ll have a lean protein, vegetables, and complex carbs. For breakfast, I’ll eat a smaller portion of overnight oats, a smoothie or fruit before a run. Then, I like to refuel with some protein and carbs.
  3. For long runs, make sure you are carrying water, enough calories, and possibly electrolytes. I like taking Gu chomps for runs longer than 70-80 minutes and I recently started to hydrate with Nuun after my longer runs.

Mind

  1. Stay relaxed and have fun! Along with physical fitness,  mental fitness is super important when training for a half marathon. Don’t stress if you aren’t following the plan perfectly (here are some tips if you are struggling with motivation). Listen to your body throughout the process. In the end, it’s only a race!

Feeling ready yet? Now go own this race! Please reach out if you’d like any more tips or have any other questions.

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Registered Dietitian Dixya Bhattarai Shares Her Nutrition Tips!

I am so excited to present this interview with blogger and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Dixya Bhattarai! I met Dixya through an online blogger community and I was thrilled to meet another South Asian blogger. I also could not stop drooling over her food pictures on Instagram (find her @foodpleasurehealth). I finally tried her vegan pots de creme recipe for Valentine’s day and from then I knew she was the real deal. A little bit about Dixya: she’s originally from Nepal but currently calls Dallas home. She has a really balanced approach to food & nutrition and I am all for that :).

I’ll let her tell you guys more!

Easy Vegan Pots de Creme

+Introduce yourself to us please 🙂
Hi everyone, my name is Dixya Bhattarai – Registered Dietitian & Food Blogger behind Food, Pleasure, and Health. I am also a daughter, sister, girlfriend, and a chronic tea drinker (among many other things) currently based in Fort Worth, Texas. When I am not at the hospital working as a Clinical Dietitian, I love to cook, read books (with interesting pretty covers), or hanging out with my 4 year old fur child. I used to run regularly but within the last 2 years or so, I have picked up yoga, weight training, and brisk walking.

+How did you get interested in nutrition and then later get a degree as an RD?
When I first moved here [from Nepal] I had no idea what I was really interested in so I took general classes to begin with. My cousin was pursuing her nursing degree at that time and told me about a major in nutrition. I don’t recall if I did any research or anything on becoming an RD (it was long time ago), I simply signed up for a basic nutrition class and loved it. I took couple more nutrition classes and a career as an RD just felt right. I had an excellent academic advisor (Laura Mcknight) and internship director (Golda Ewalt) who has helped me tremendously to become an RD I am today.

+What is one change a person can make to their lifestyle to focus more on their nutrition?
Making health and wellness as your top priority is probably one of the challenging yet simplest thing one can do in order to pursue a healthier lifestyle. Once you prioritize your health and treat it like an important appointment (such as going to the gym at 7 pm, meal planning every Sunday afternoon, or going to bed at 10 pm), you will naturally start paying attention to nutrition.

Sprouted Mung Bean SaladSprouted Mung Bean Salad

+What can one do to make South Asian food a little healthier?
Growing up in a household where rice, daal, and vegetables were eaten twice a day and few snacks in between, I know we can definitely do better at using less oil while cooking vegetables and less sugar in tea especially if you drink tea 3-4 times a day with snacks.

South Asian food can be well-balanced and really nutritious but we tend to fill our plate with more carbs (rice, bread) compared to protein, vegetables, and fruits.

A lot of our snacks are deep-fried, sweet laden, and salty so we can perhaps replace some of those with healthier alternatives such as fresh fruits, nuts, and seeds.

+What’s your favorite on-the-go snack?
I love trail mix, granola, energy bites, or fresh fruit.

+Can you share some of your favorite recipes with us?
I am not a chef or a culinary expert so I do a lot of non-traditional weeknight-friendly wholesome recipes that are delicious. Some of my fav recipes include:

Tofu Palak
Chicken Tikka Lettuce Wrap
Tandoori Roasted Chickpeas
Sprouted Mung Bean Salad
Golden Milk Popsicles

Tofu Tikka Masala

Please do let me know if you try her recipes! I’m particularly craving the Tandoori Roasted Chickpeas :).

DIY Turmeric Face Mask to Moisturize and Brighten Skin

turmeric face mask

Indians use turmeric for everything: food, medicine, drinks, and yes, even for face masks. This easy DIY turmeric face mask is a great at-home remedy to brighten and moisturize your face and skin.

Fun fact: turmeric is also a very important ingredient in Indian weddings – especially for a particular ceremony – the haldi. The haldi (which means turmeric in Hindi) is celebration held for the bride and groom at their respective homes. A turmeric paste is gently applied to the their face and feet. According to Hindu teachings, turmeric is supposed to cleanse the body and soul and marks the beginning of a new chapter in the lives for the couple!

There are many variations of different turmeric masks but I picked one that’s easy and convenient. You only need a few ingredients and a few minutes to put it together. FYI – whenever I share a DIY project or recipe, rest assured that it will always be pretty straightforward. Because I can’t deal with complexity.

You’ll only need 4 ingredients: turmeric, yogurt, honey, and oat flour. If you don’t have oat flour you can sub it with rice flour or gram flour, or skip it all together!

turmeric-face-mask-ingredients

 

DIY Turmeric Face Mask to Moisturize and Brighten Skin
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • 1 tbsp of yogurt ( I used plain greek yogurt)
  • 1 tsp of oat flour (gram or rice flour works too)
Instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients together to form a smooth paste. If the mask feels too dry you can add a little more yogurt to get the right consistency.
  2. Use a mini rubber spatula to apply the mask to your face, avoiding your eyebrows and hair. If you use your fingers to apply it, be mindful of your nails because turmeric does stain!
  3. Leave the mask on for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Wash your face thoroughly with warm water to remove the mask. You may need a couple of rinses to get it off completely. I like doing it in the shower so I don’t have to worry about staining my clothes. An old towel also helps remove the last bits of color.
  5. You can keep the mask in the refrigerator for about a week. If it starts to dry out, add a little more yogurt (or milk) to fix the consistency.
 

Now why is this so good for you? First turmeric has antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Honey has antibacterial properties as well. The lactic acid in yogurt helps remove dead skin cells and moisturizes your skin at the same time. Finally, the oat flour also acts as a gentle exfoliant & hydrates dry skin.

***A few important reminders about turmeric.

1.A slight yellow tint may remain on your face if you don’t wash thoroughly but don’t worry it’ll go away by itself.
2.Turmeric does stain clothes so beware!
3.If you have facial hair (especially if it’s light in color) don’t put turmeric on it.

 

 

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This easy turmeric face mask is made with oats, honey, yogurt and turmeric and is used to brighten and moisturize your skin

Five Tips for Workout Motivation

five easy tips on how to find motivation for working out.

In a perfect world, working out should be as easy as other routine activities like brushing your teeth, showering, eating etc. But we all know it’s not that easy, even though physical activity is as important as clean teeth (if not more!).

You know when I find it the hardest to be motivated? When you’re coming back to working out after a while, whether it be weeks or years. You feel like your first workout back has to be the best one ever – but that’s totally not true. You just have to do something!

I struggled with workout motivation for years and still occasionally do…you know sometimes that fear sets in. But think I’ve finally found a happy balance and I definitely didn’t find that motivation alone. The tips below have helped me stay motivated and hopefully they help you too.

1. Stop being a Perfectionist

Let’s say you haven’t worked out for three months but want to get back into running as You make a plan to run 4 miles the next day but when tomorrow comes, you are afraid you won’t be able to do it so you postpone it.

Then, the next day comes around and you still don’t get to running because you don’t have the time for a full 4 miles. But why not just start with one mile? Or why don’t you even make it a point to get outside for 15-20 minutes to see what happens?

I feel like we get so caught up with the “perfect” plan that we can let it intimidate us to a point where we do nothing. 

2. Set Realistic, Achievable Goals

We all have our own reasons to why we workout: to lose weight, to feel happier, to run faster. However, sometimes when we are dragging our butts to the gym, we lose sight on why we are there in the first place.

Shannon Arens, the general manager of our health & wellness program at work wrote a great post on how to choose “S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound)” goals.

For example, I’m most motivated to workout when I’m training for a race. I feel truly committed andI also love competing against myself and aiming to beat my personal record. A great example of a SMART goal for me would be “set a PR for my half-marathons by running a sub 2:00 time at the Santa Cruz half on April 9th.”

I personally steer away from goals in physical appearance because I think it could lead to an unhealthy obsession with the scale and vanity metrics. So maybe getting ready for bikini season is a great motivation for some people, but I don’t think it’s a goal that’s leads to longer-term commitment to working out.

3. Find an accountability partner

I wish I was better at morning workouts (well I am kind of getting better now that I teach POP Pilates twice a week at 7 AM) but if I don’t have a reason to be up, I normally end up snoozing my alarm. However, if I am meeting a friend for a run in the morning or taking a class someone, I never snooze for fear of disappointing my friend! Working out with someone not only is fun, but also provides accountability.

4. Keep it Social

This point ties in well to the one above: working out shouldn’t necessarily feel like a chore. Try rock-climbing, dancing, or hiking with friends. My roommate and I sometimes go to hip-hop together at uforia studios and it’s so much fun!

With all of our busy lives, it’s hard to find time to do everything, so why not make it easier by combining social time and fitness into one?

5. Join an online community

There are many great online fitness communities where you can like-minded individuals who are trying to make health & wellness a priority. A few well-known fitness communities include POP Pilates, Tone it Up, and Kayla Itsines BBG. There are always different challenges to partake in and you’ll find plenty of other women on the way to motivate you!

I know I’ve only touched on a few ways to stay motivated to work out so I’d love to hear from you what you do to bring back that determination!

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five easy tips on how to find motivation for working out.

five easy tips on how to find motivation for working out.

Mental Fitness: How to Reset, Relax, and Restart

akansha-agrawal-citrus-gold

Hi guys,

I feel like a lot of health & fitness blogs forget to address a key factor in being fit, your mind. Your mind literally controls all of your actions and if your mind isn’t fit, how will your body ever get there?

I’m starting to brand Citrus & Gold as a wellness blog, not so much as a fitness blog. I am NOT going to tell you how to get a six-pack and I’m NOT going to help you find the perfect diet. Instead I’m going to touch on topics that help you go deep, that help you critically understand why you haven’t been meeting your goals or finding time for your own wellness.

I had to go through an internal struggle myself a couple of months ago.

I was mentally exhausted at the end of last year and beginning of this year. Too many voices were telling me what to do, too many of my own doubts were holding me back.

We all have moments in life where we’ve just had enough. The first step to recovering from those moments of exhaustion is accepting that it’s okay. It’s 100% okay to need a break. I feel like these days we are always told to go go go. But I don’t agree with that mentality at all.

I knew I had the potential of putting myself under a lot of stress with teaching POP Pilates, working, blogging and everything else in life. So I knew I needed to be proactive in my self-care routine.

If you are going through a period of stress, or stuck in some sort of rut here are a few tips that really helped me.

  1. Get off social media: even if it’s for a few days, delete the apps that are mentally bogging you down. I deleted the Facebook app from my phone for a good month before coming back to it. If you’re a blogger like me, realize that your readers can wait…your mental health cannot.
  2. Journal: write anything and everything that comes to mind. Use it as an outlet – it doesn’t even matter if you don’t came back to it.
  3. Travel: If you can get away for a weekend, do it. I know when you’re exhausted travel can seem like it’s adding another layer to your already stressful life but it’s so important to getaway. You’ll thank me later.
  4. Meditate: I know people have been preaching meditation for centuries (literally) but it works! Even if it’s 2 minutes, 5 minutes or 10 minutes, try it out! It does time taking used to it so don’t force it. Just come back to it everyday with an open mind. Headspace has been doing wonders for me.
  5. Spend time with loved ones: Sometimes when there is too much noise we isolate ourselves and that’s a big no-no! Especially for someone like me who has more introverted tendencies, alone-time is so important and it can be easy to fall into that trap. It’s super important to find the right balance between me-time & quality time with friends and family.

Thankfully, I’ve been feeling better implementing some of these tips to help with mental health & stress so I hope they help you too! If you need more tips to relax check out this post: 10 Ways to Treat your Mind & Body on a Budget.

Oh and one last thing, remember life is too damn short to be serious. Don’t let your mind bog you down. While focusing on yourself don’t forget to have fun with it!

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Your mind is equally as important as your body. If you are anxious, stressed, here are a few tips on how to relax, reset, and restart.

Your mind is equally as important as your body. If you are anxious, stressed, here are a few tips on how to relax, reset, and restart.

Instagram: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

As a newer blogger, I’ve been learning the ins and outs with social media and out of all platforms, Instagram is where I spend the most of my time. I really do enjoy sharing and seeing other people’s pictures but over the years instagram has transformed into a platform for business and it’s changed the vibe in big ways.

There’s a lot that can be said about this seemingly innocuous photo-sharing platform so I’m going to divvy it up into three categories: the good, the bad, the ugly.

The Good:

I absolutely LOVE how Instagram has helped me connected with other like-minded individuals (shameless plug, you can find me @citrusandgold). I’ve met amazing women into fitness, POP pilates, and I’ve also got the chance to connect south asian influencers who are killing it. It’s also a really great source for inspiration: whether for workouts, photography, places to visit…you name it!

Great example: I met Kruti Shah (who is amazing!!) through Instagram and I was able to share her story with health & wellness on my blog. It’s really great for community-building.

The Bad:

Instagram can also be a huge waste of time. Sometimes I feel like I’m “working” on my blog but what I’m really doing is spending hours scrolling through Instagram and commenting, hoping to make a dent. Also if you are a blogger (READ: Blogging 101: How to Choose a Blog Name), it’s good to know that Instagram isn’t great for conversion (i.e. bringing traffic to your site).

It can also increase the feeling of FOMO, and it paints a very superficial & curated version of someone’s life. Note to all: Instagram is NOT real life. People go to the greatest lengths to take the perfect picture.

Example: Remember Essena O’Neill, the insta-famous Australian model? Here she talks about why she called it quits with Instagram.

The Ugly:

Okay this part is where I get really frustrated with Instagram: the followers game. There are so many shady tactics that people follow to get more followers. Here are just a few:

  • There are apps & services that let you buy followers that are essentially fake but active accounts
  • Some people follow the tactic of using bots to comment with stupid emojis or generic terms like “Perfect!” or “Love!” It’s becoming easier to spot these fake comments so I’m not sure why people are still doing it. Not trying to become friends with a bunch of R2-D2s.
  • The sneakiest way is probably the follow & unfollow method. Again there are apps that help you follow a bunch of people in your niche, hoping they will follow-back. Then within a couple of days, you automatically unfollow these people so your follower to following ratio is higher.

I don’t want to call anyone out for using these ways, but it just seems so unethical. I mean a part of me gets it. You have to hustle to get noticed and sometimes it may need to do whatever it takes. But there has to be better ways to grow your brand.

Here’s the deal: I’m not giving up on Instagram but I want to really focus more time on writing valuable content and less on promoting on social media. And ultimately, I hope that means you have to waste less time scrolling through Instagram & Facebook (and spend it on things that actually matter).

If you’re interested, and want to stay in the loop about what I’m writing please subscribe below!

As for Instagram, I vow to stay ethical with my practice and grow the slow, authentic way.



Bloggers, if you use instagram to reach a large audience then you should know the pros and cons of this social media platform