Monthly Archives: January 2013

Am I Awesome Yet?

We are now well into 2013. How is it going for you so far?

Some of us have our goals established, written down, and we’re working on them.  If the 2013 Goals Project isn’t your thing, no worries, but I do hope that you have something you’d like to see happen over the next 12 months.

One of my goals is to become a more confident runner.  I’ve made no secret of this, and it was even on my 2012 list.  So, why haven’t I accomplished it yet?  I keep asking myself this same question.

During the last several months of 2012 I was very dedicated to running.  I was out there chasing the pavement all the time, and it felt great.  I mean, it was difficult for me still, but I could tell that I was improving.  Then the holidays came and I lost my mojo.

Now, I’m back to running regularly – three days per week – and I’ve added a new element to my training.  A running partner!

turkeytrot2012

I used to hate running with other people.  I avoided it like the plague.  I joined the Steel City Road Runner’s Club and had every intention on going on their group runs, but I didn’t.  Partially because shortly after I joined I hurt my ankle, but I get self conscious when I have to run with others.  I am slow, I amble, and when I run with others, I feel like I’m holding them back.  Dude and I ran the 2012 half marathon together.  He is a much faster runner than I am, but we vowed to do it together.  I felt bad throughout the whole race and even told him to just leave me behind.  He didn’t, of course, but I felt weird.

So when my friend told me that she wanted to become a more confident runner too, I didn’t jump up right away and suggest we run together.  I thought about it for a few days and then just decided to go for it.  It turns out, we run at the same speed!

This makes me so happy!  Let me type that again – THIS MAKES ME SO HAPPY!  (It deserves some caps action.)

So, we’ve been running together three days a week and I’m finding I’m getting back into my running groove.  It feels great!

There is a downside, however.  My own mental roadblock – lack of patience.

We are doing really well, and in the short time we’ve been doing this together, we have both regained some endurance we lost by slacking off over the holidays.  However, we’re both saying to ourselves, “Why aren’t we awesome yet?”

I have to keep reminding myself of all those corny cliches like “Rome wasn’t built in a day”.  It’s true.  I believe that.  I tell my clients this very thing!  In fact, a large part of my practice is based on this exact principle.  But it’s always more difficult to put it into practice than it is to say, right?

And then today started and my friend (and marathon runner) Shannon posted this article about patience on Facebook.  It is about yoga (another place where I need to be more patient), but I think the message translates really well to just about anything, workout related or not.

Yeah, patience IS a bitch.  I don’t have much of it.  I want to be a really good runner, like, today.  Or maybe even yesterday.  But it isn’t going to happen.  I have to be patient.  I lost some momentum over the holidays, but I’m picking it back up now and I have to earn each and every step.  I’m stronger than I was a week ago, and I’ll be stronger still a week from now.  But I have to work hard throughout that week or I won’t gain anything.

So, here are some patience building strategies I’m using to help myself become a better, more confident runner:

I’m zooming in – When I wrote the post about zooming in I talked mostly about ticking things off of my enormous to-do list, but it works for running too.  I’m not even thinking about the half marathon that’s coming up in May.  All I’m thinking about is my next run (tomorrow morning).  And when I’m in the midst of that run, all I’m thinking about it putting one foot in front of the other.  Stressing about the big picture isn’t helping me.  I’m zoomed in on what I’m doing NOW and that’s all.

Keep a log – I am actually keeping two logs these days.  One for my food, and one for my workouts.  It seems like a tedious exercise to keep a log of any kind, but it’s rewarding and motivating when you take a look back on a week or a month and look at all you’ve done.  When I see what I’m doing now compared to what I was doing a month ago, it is concrete proof that hard work is paying off and that makes me feel less impatient.

Stay accountable to friends – My running partner and I are supporting each other.  When I feel slow, she pushes me and I hope I do the same for her.  We’re reminding each other of how far we’ve come already.  Having someone to coach and motivate has been invaluable to me.  We aren’t in competition.  We’re just supporting each other.

half marathon shirt

Lighten up – Remind myself what you’re training for.  Am I trying to WIN this half marathon?  No.  I’m not even trying to earn an entry to the race.  I already signed up and paid.  I’m in.  Barring any kind of catastrophe, I’ll run the race.  So, why am I putting all this pressure on myself to be fantastic?  It’s unnecessary and I don’t need the stress.  I remind myself all the time to put this in to perspective.  Sure, I want to improve, but I don’t want to take the fun out of it and turn it into a chore by being impatient and cranky.

I don’t think I’m the only one who has set course on a goal accomplishing mission and is already asking myself “Why aren’t I awesome yet?”. Surely I am not the world’s most impatient person!  It’s your turn to share with me how impatient you are and what you’re doing to turn it around.  Leave me a comment here or on Facebook.

 

Zoom In

zoom-in-icon-clip-art

I don’t know about you, but right now I’m feeling quite overwhelmed.  We all seem to go through these phases where there is just so much on the calendar and so much to accomplish that it is almost painful to think about how everything will be accomplished, let alone how everything will be accomplished well.

For me, I’m juggling a few things right now.  Obviously, my first priority is my fermentation book.  It is the biggest undertaking of my entire life thus far, so obviously it is getting the majority of my attention.  I’ve never written a book before so everything is uncharted territory for me!  There are so many details to think about and so much work involved.  I’m loving it, but at the same time, I’m feeling the heat.

Beyond that I have my own goals to work on, a household to manage, a business to maintain.  I’m also a worrier so even though I’m not personally enduring a particular hardship, I do worry about my loved ones who are facing difficult times.  (I know I’m creating more stress for myself by doing that, but it’s just the way I am.  Working on it!)

Amongst all this hoopla, I am very fortunate to have some sane voices in my life.  Specifically Dude, my parents, and a few close friends.  I call them my own personal advisory board.  When I’m stymied over how to handle a troublesome situation, I go to them.  Often when I know I have to do something that is particularly painful and I just don’t want to do it, I go to them for the nudge in the right direction.  When I don’t want to face a harsh truth, they are the trusted people in my life who give me the straight dope.

Something that my advisory board has been giving me lately, is the advice to zoom in on all that is making me feel overwhelmed.  The reason I feel overwhelmed with everything going on is that I am looking at all of these things on my to-do list, all of the stressors, all of the things I’m worrying about, and I am trying to solve them all today and right now or five minutes ago.  Instead, this “zooming in” advice is telling me to focus on one thing at a time, one day at ta time, one moment at a time.

We’ve all heard the adage, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint!”  Yes.  Life is a marathon in so many ways, but even in a marathon nobody is running 26.2 right this very instant.  It is a prolonged task that is made up of one mile at a time and one foot in front of the other.

So that’s what I’m doing these days.  I’m zooming in.  I’m making lists and then I’m just choosing ONE thing on that list to focus on for this moment.  I’m going to do it well, and not worry about the rest of the list until it’s time.

I can get frazzled and frayed over ALL that I have to do before turning this book in.  I can get stressed out and lose sleep over buying a new house and moving.  I can get emotional about the new house deal falling apart.  None of this is serving me, however.  What’s the point?

Instead, I’m focusing on what I have to accomplish today, in this hour, at this moment.  The big picture is fine, but for now I’m zoomed in very tightly on today’s agenda and that’s all.

Now, it’s your turn to share your experiences.  Are you overwhelmed?  How do you manage everything when you’re feeling this way?  Who are your closest confidants and how do they help you when things get stressful?  Do you find that “zooming in” on one day or hour or moment at a time makes a colossal to-do list seem more manageable?  Share with me in the comments or on Facebook.

Here we go! 2013 Goals Project

2013 Goals Project

Around the new year there is so much poo-pooing of new year’s resolutions.  You have some people who make a commitment to do or start something knowing full well they plan to give it up in a few weeks.  There are others who say they don’t want to set themselves up for failure.  Other say that it’s for saps who ought to be doing good things no matter if the calendar just flipped over or not.

To all, I say this:  It doesn’t matter when you start, it matters that you started.  Personally, I start new “resolutions” all the time – my life is ever changing and things are not static around the First Comes Health house.  But I do like the fresh, clean slate feeling of a new year.

Last week we wrapped up the 2012 Goals Project, and I’m calling it a grand success.  I also had some familiar names say they wanted to participate in 2013, so let’s get started.

Diane D.

Business Goals:

  • Book 16 weddings during 2013.
  • Develop 30 new LadyFingers recipes and successfully implement them into 2013 events.
  • Update and publicize all LadyFingers menus by June 1.  Update both online and print menus throughout 2013 as new recipes are developed (see above).
  • Update the LadyFingers website each month with Portfolio and/or Recipe entries.
  • Consistently maintain the LadyFingers Facebook page to remain current and relevant.  Increase viewership.

Personal Goals:

  • Re-commit to fitness using a method that will work on a consistent, life-style basis and keep a journal of progress and/or set-backs.
  • Increase vegetable garden production through improved efficiency.
  • Increase charitable efforts both personally and professionally.
  • Shed all superfluous items.

Austin K.

Between getting married, finishing my first year of my new job, and turning 30, I’m hitting a few big milestones this year.
With this in mind, it is important for me to continue to prioritize my (new) family life and personal health/well-being ahead of my job, while still putting forth high quality work.

Family goals:

  •  Remember to help out with the more disagreeable chores (cat litter/bathroom cleaning)
  • Go on a date at least once a month

Fitness goals:

  •  Complete 200 pushups a day (on day 9 already!)
  • Complete 4 or more races of the 1/2 marathon, olympic triathlon, long obstacle race, open water swim variety
  • Continue to workout in the A.M. before work at least 4 days a week

Nutrition goals:

  •  Sign up for CSA box (and utilize it)
  • Find at least 5 new healthy recipes that I enjoy and can cook easily

Work goals:

  •  Obtain high scores on yearly reviews
  • Get superior ratings for my bands at festival

Brian R.

  • Get stronger!
  • Finish things I write (and get them to a workshop or a publisher)
  • Excel at my job.
  • Finish 36 books (I’d love to make this a 52 book challenge like a writer I admire gave himself, but I have to be realistic here.)

Matt C.

  • To continue to attend my exercise classes as I have been and to add some new ones as well.
  • To eat better so all my hard work in class doesn’t go for nothing
  • Run at least two 5Ks, which would be my first
  • Compete in the Warrior Dash on August 24

Bill R.

  • Weigh 230 or less by June 1.
  • Have perfect finger nails by June 1.
  • Run a 5k by October 2013.
  • Exercise at least 3 times per week.
  • Floss at least 5 times per week.

Jill C. (That’s me, yo!)

  • Turn in my fermentation book to my publisher on March 13 without too many book-related freakouts.
  • Complete the Pittsburgh half marathon on May 5 and beat my 2012 time.
  • Confidently turn 40 on November 19.
  • Complete a home makeover – Dude and I were seriously thinking about moving and almost bought a new home.  The deal fell through, and we are staying put in our current digs.  We love our condominium and now that we know we are here for the long haul, we want to do some home improvements (some will be DIY projects, some will require us to hire a professional) to upgrade things that are in need of upgrading, and to make the place more US.
  • Home purging of unneeded and unwanted items.
  • Become a more confident runner.
  • Have more in-person interactions with those I love most – At least twice a month I want to visit with (lunch, dinner, spend afternoon with, etc.) someone in my life who I don’t regularly see.

So, there you have it.  There is plenty of room for YOU to join us!  All you need to do is come up with your own list.  Here are some helpful hints and tricks to get you started.  Send me an email containing your list and you’re good to go.

Join us!

Final Analysis - 2012 Goals Project

Goals-Project

Can you believe it has been a year since the Goals Project started?  WOW.  To say that time flies is kind of corny, but it does.

I am calling the initial run of the Goals Project a success.  We had a few folks disappear on us, and a few who joined us well into 2012, and I am quite pleased with everyone’s accomplishments.  I hope they are as well!

A hearty CONGRATULATIONS to everyone who set out to do something and accomplished it.  A hearty CONGRATULATIONS to everyone who set out to do something and made progress too.  It’s not about perfection.  It’s about moving every closer to the person you want to be.

Let’s go!

Kelly F.
Well, it was an up and down year for me.  I was thrown a curve-ball when I suffered a significant back injury and my fitness goals were a bit derailed.  However, for the most part, it was a great year and I did manage to hit on 3 out 4 of my goals for the year.

  • Complete a 30-day Paleo Challenge. – I actually completed 2 challenges successfully and now trying to incorporate this into my life as more than just a challenge but as a real lifestyle.
  • Do a CrossFit WOD Rx’d. – Luckily I did accomplish this prior to my injury but hoping to keep working my way back to be able to Rx more WODs.
  • Un-banded pull-ups.  Unfortunately came up short here.  It really bugs me and I WILL accomplish this someday!!!
  • Buy dream car. – Purchased December 27, 2012!!

Shannon H.
Here is my yearly report from Dailymile. This includes all forms of miles, including biking, spinning, running, walking, elliptical, etc.  I am happy to say that even though I did not make my goal of running 1300 miles, I sure kept pretty active! I ended the year with 1216 miles of running – averaging 100 miles a month is pretty solid! I am looking to make up my goal of 1300 and then some for 2013.

Another fun fact about 2012 – I have visited the gym or a yoga studio (sometimes both) at least once every single week of the year. My streak is up to 54 weeks and I plan to keep it going as long as I can!

So to summarize 2012:

  • Goal #1 – Run my first marathon – Killed it. I ran 2!
  • Goal #2 – 1300 mi for the year -Close but no cigar. Had a couple injury issues that kept me from getting all the miles in but I will make it up this year!

Ann M.
All things considered, I think 2012 was a success both personally and professionally. On the professional level, I graduated from nursing school with honors and started my dream job. Personally, I moved back to the city I love, I’m surrounded by my closest friends and family, and I found out that I love running, CrossFit, and cooking. While I slacked off with cooking and working out during the last half of the year, I’m totally motivated to get going again in 2013! This year I want to run a 10k or a half marathon! Bring it on 2013!!

Matt C.
Even if I didn’t reach my overall goal of looking much better in my referee uniform (I fill it out a little more than last year, but not what I had hoped for), a great byproduct of going to these exercise classes has been that I’m much, much more confident in myself. I can go to the beach or the pool and not feel embarrassed about taking my shirt off. I have also met so many great people at the YMCA we go to. They have all become good friends. Those things are more important than how I look at a basketball game! The season itself is underway and I’m hopefully on the path to the finals! Stay tuned to 2013 updates to see how far I make it!!!

Brian R.
Looking back over my experience with the goals project in 2012 I believe I’ve learned an important lesson. I set the goals below for myself with the notion that I could spend the entire year building towards success.  What I see now is that these may have been valuable goals in January, but they didn’t last through the year.  To change this for 2013 I think I have two choices: create bigger goals or think more in terms of short term goals.  That second approach is the one I’m going to take, and the way I plan to do is to have a broad goal (such as ‘get stronger’) that I can work towards all year, but each month I can focus in on one aspect of it (like ‘bench press 150.’)

I found myself getting very discouraged with myself, and this discouragement led me to feel bad about myself, avoid talking about my goals, and even stop reading this blog (talk about blaming the wrong source for my own shortcomings!)  Rather than giving up on either setting goals or talking about them, however, I think I just need to make setting goals something that works for me in my own way.

My summary of how I did in 2012 is as follows:

  • Run the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon – Done!
  • Reach a CrossFit Total of 800 (Translation right here) – Didn’t make it, but I did improve my numbers.  This will be something I hope to achieve in 2012, but now I have a better idea of what needs to change in order to get there.
  • Pack lunch for work everyday – There were some months where I really did well, and I know what it will take to keep it up.  Now I just have to motivate myself to be consistent.  In terms of success, I’d say I managed 20% of my goal here.
  • Write 45,000 words – I gave up on thinking of this in monolithic terms, but having this on my goals list each month gave me a chance to think about what I mean by progress in this category.  I think it’s fair to say I produced about 40,000 words between three book projects and about eight short stories.  The tough part for me now is to push myself to actually finish something.

Jill C. (that’s me, you know!)
Well, I am giving myself a “B” for the year.  I would like to list the same things I listed in January of 2012 and have an “Accomplished!” next to each one, but I can’t.  I know now that I set too many lofty goals a year ago and didn’t have a real plan of how I would do many of them.  Lesson learned.

I am so very proud of finishing the half marathon, and I can very safely say that by year’s end I was a more confident runner than I was at the beginning.  That is not to say that I am quite confident yet.  This is definitely something to revisit in 2013.

I slacked off with yoga, new meal making, and learning to take better photos.  All of these will appear in my 2013 list, but in different forms.  I’m optimistic.

I want to publicly thank all of the participants past, present, and future for making this past year a great one.  I am very much looking forward to all that we will accomplish in the coming months!  Let’s do this!

As always, I am looking for participants.  Do you have something that you want to accomplish in 2013?  Don’t fall into the resolution quagmire and let your goals fall by the wayside by mid-January!  Join us and stay on track all year long.  Send me an email with the thing(s) you’d like to tackle in 2013.  Check out this post for more details.  That’s all it takes.

Bring it on 2013!

2013 Goals Project

2013 Goals Project

Tomorrow I plan to post a wrap up of how well the 2012 Goals Project participants did.  I’m so excited for them! I can’t wait to share all the good news with you. Today, however, I am putting out a plea for 2013 Goals Project participants.  Who is in?!  Here are the details:

1. Compile a list of what you want to accomplish in 2013.  These things need not all be health related, and you don’t even have to have a list.  Having one goal that you plan to work on all year is fantastic.

2. Be sure that whatever you choose is a measurable goal.  Here’s a good example of this: “By the end of 2013 I want to be able to deadlift 300 pounds.  Right now my deadlift is 215 pounds.”  Here is a bad example of this: “I want to be happy in 2013.”  An honorable goal of course, but not easily measured.

3. Choose a few goals that can be worked on for a good portion of the  year.  Here is a good example: “I want to train for and run my first marathon by August 2013.”  Here is a bad example: “I want to drop 2 pounds by my birthday on January 22, 2013.”  I DO encourage short-term as well as year-long goals, so don’t think that accomplishing something by the end of the month is worthless.  But if you are interested in participating all year long, make sure that you have something on your list that will require long-term commitment.

4. Each month I will email you requesting an update.  Let me know how you are progressing, what is going well for you with regards to your goals, and what isn’t.  Be honest!  Perfection is not expected.  If you stumble, fall, or fail, that’s life and we can all relate to it.

5. Don’t be afraid to edit throughout the year.  If you accomplish something, change your mind, your circumstances change, or just feel like changing gears, I encourage you to stay with the 2013 Goals Project!  Life is unpredictable and we’ve got to roll with the punches.  Don’t be afraid to adapt the goals you set at the beginning of the year.

6. If you’re interested, you can be featured on this site in a Focus On post.  Participation in this is entire voluntary.

That’s it!  Now, get to thinking about what you want to make happen for yourself in 2013!!!  Email me your goal(s) at Jill@FirstComesHealth.com and let’s get started!

My Auntie!

Remember a few months back when I told you about my Aunt Peg who was suddenly, without any warning at all, diagnosed with cancer?  Here’s an update and a lesson we ALL can learn from her.

I started off that post with a quote “What you think upon grows.”  It was so appropriate to start that post about my aunt getting cancer with that quote.  When she found out that she had cancer in her bones, in her breast, and in her liver she was terrified.  I mean, who wouldn’t be, right?  You feel OK one day, have some tests done the next day, and the doc drops a bomb on you that you have cancer all through your body?!  Come on.  It was an enormous shock.

But instead of taking that shock and rolling up in a ball and hoping for the best, Peg took it as a challenge.  She’s always been an athlete and a competitor, but she never face an opponent like cancer before.  So for her fight, she took out her biggest weapon and used it.

Positive thinking.

She started this campaign amongst everyone she knows to think 10 positive thoughts a day and have one of them be for her and her fight.  The other nine were to be positive thoughts for something or someone else, but ONE of each person’s daily good thought she asked for herself.

So we all did it.  Each day I’d get up and think my thoughts in the shower:

One for my Dude.
One for my kitty.
One for my parents.
One for my brothers.
One for my grandmas.
One for my sister-in-law.
One for my nephew.
One for my niece.
One for peace.

And I saved the biggest one for my Aunt Peg.

Cancer was coming at her hard and fast and it was the only thing I could do to keep from being completely helpless.  Call it prayer, call it positive thoughts, call it meditation, call it whatever you want.  I focused my good thoughts on those people for a little moment each day. I sent Peg my strength across the miles.

crab chemo hat

As her treatment went on, I was so blown away by how much humor she had throughout. Chemotherapy is no picnic and there were days that were definitely NOT funny or glamorous in any way, but her attitude was always positive.  She would wear a funky hat to each treatment, and although the days following were not good days, she faced chemo with a smile.

steelers chemo hat

My uncle, Peg’s brother, and his family visited her and participated in the local Susan G. Komen walk.  My 90 year old grandma went too.  She had so much love and support.

ubill and peg

Her co-workers and friends were incredible to her.  Her positive attitude has inspired so many!  She was even asked to speak before a volleyball game at her workplace, Meredith College.  Her speech was about positive thinking and staying in the fight when the chips are down.

She lives far away, but managed to muster up the strength to travel back to Pennsylvania for family gatherings and holidays.  Traveling took a LOT out of her and those days weren’t always pleasant, but she always made it because she knew the power of having family around her.

Peg and Gram

It’s been a very difficult road, but Peg has made the best of it and found strength inside her that has surprised and inspired us all.

popcorn chemo hat

Last week she had a PET scan and the results were better than expected.

NO SIGN OF CANCER ANYWHERE IN HER BODY.

Did you hear that?  She has no sign of cancer left in her body.  At all.

That’s right.  My auntie is making her way back and she is kicking cancer in the rump!

 

pizza chemo hat

(Snazzy shirt!!!!!!!!)

I cannot adequately express using the written word how elated, relieved, thankful, overjoyed, and moved I was by that news.  It was a celebration day for our family, and a day to hold Peg up high and give thanks for her life.

Medicine and good self care drove the cancer out of her body, yes.  But I do know without question that without the positive thoughts and the good attitude, my aunt wouldn’t be where she is today.  Positivity cannot be underestimated.

She isn’t completely out of the woods yet, and there are still a few hurdles left to jump for Peg, but I know she’s going to be just fine for a long long time.

To those of you who prayed for her throughout, I thank you.  For those of you who believe in the power of good thoughts, I say keep them coming for my aunt and all of those who are important to you.  For those of you who know that what you think upon grows, I encourage you to focus your thoughts on all the good life can offer.

I love you so much, Peg!

Recipe: Easy Mole

Does anyone else out there watch American Horror Story?  If you are in to creepy, terrifying, twisted, unbelievable, shocking horror shows, then you ought to be.  Dude and I watch it and although he has been a fan since the beginning of the first season, I was late to the game.  My friend Kelly kept encouraging me to watch, but I didn’t right away.  Finally, before season 2 started this past fall, I watched season 1.  Whoa!  It’s a crazy show and not for the faint of heart or easily scared.  Spooky!

When season 2 started we decided to make watching it a weekly event with the aforementioned friend, Kelly, and our other buddy, Liz.  It has turned into a once a week dinner party of sorts!  We rotate where we watch the show, and whoever hosts makes dinner.  The four of us gather a few hours before the show, eat, talk about the previous episode, and then get ready to have our pants scared off.  I look forward to Wednesday nights for so many reasons now!

First and foremost, I love hanging out with Kelly and Liz.  They rule.  Second on my list is the food!  These ladies have treated us to some real delights over the course of the season, and I feel challenged to make something interesting each time it’s our turn to host.  For me, AHS nights have become much more than an excellent TV show.  It’s more about food and friendship.  In fact, once the season is over, we’re going to keep getting together weekly to watch True Blood.  (Again, I’m late to the party with this show too.  I haven’t seen a single second of it, but it comes highly recommended.)

ANYWAY!  This past Wednesday, Liz hosted us and made roasted pork in mole sauce.  ERMAHGERD!

This was such an epic meal that I begged Liz to give me the recipe THAT VERY NIGHT so I could recreate it at home the next day.

Before I go on, let me say a few things about Liz and her cooking.  (You might remember Liz from previous mentions here, here, and here.) The two of us eat the same way, we like the same foods, we are both adventurous in the kitchen.  In spite of all these commonalities, we are drastically different cooks.  We could be charged with making the same dish and we would take vastly different approaches to making it and end up with two entirely different things.  I love talking food with her because she makes me think.  We run parallel paths in the kitchen.  Our paths are similar, but rarely cross.

Case in point: Mole (which, by the way, is pronounced “MOL-lay”).  Sure, I’ve heard of it, and had it in restaurants.  I love it.  But it never occurred me to make it at home.  Liz, on the other hand, makes it frequently and has experimented with a few different recipes.  Below is her recipe, but allow me to give a little mole history and background.

First of all, the recipe below is for an easy mole sauce.  It is positively delicious and you will want to make it right now.  However, historically it is a very complicated sauce that can have dozens of ingredients.  It originated in Mexico, and different regions have slightly different takes on a recipe.  An authentic mole sauce starts with chili peppers.  This quick and easy one does not.  An authentic mole sauce often uses day-old bread or tortillas as thickening agents.  This one is grain-free.

Let’s get started!

1 pork roast (I used a 3.5# pork butt, boneless)
1 cup water
3 T apple cider vinegar

Rinse the meat and pat dry with paper towels
Put meat, water, and vinegar in a slow cooker.
Cover and put on high for 4 to 5 hours, or until meat is thoroughly cooked and easily shredded.

pork butt in slow cooker
Remove the meat from slow cooker, and reserve all the remaining liquid in a glass bowl.
Shred meat and return to slow cooker, but turn slow cooker down to low.

shred pork

While the meat is initially cooking and before you shred it, make the mole sauce.

3 cups chicken or beef stock (fresh is best, but use store bought if necessary)
1 T. coconut oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 T. chopped garlic (approximately 5 cloves)
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
2.5 T. chili powder
2 T. coconut flour
3 ounces of dark chocolate, finely chopped (70% cocoa or above.  If using 100%, add 2 T. or amount to taste of maple syrup)
2 T. cocoa powder
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium low heat.
Add onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, and cinnamon.
Cover and cook until onion is almost tender, about 10 minutes.  Stir occasionally.
Mix in chili powder and coconut flour.  Stir for 2 minutes.
Gradually whisk in chicken broth.
Increase heat to medium high and let the sauce comes to a boil.
Let the sauce lightly boil for about 35 minutes, or until reduced to a thicker consistency.

thick mole(This is the thickness to which I let my mole sauce get.  Notice that when I use that spatula to stir it, it is thick enough to expose the bottom of the pot. It was also thin enough to still cover that bare spot a few seconds after I took this photo.)

Remove from heat.
Whisk in chocolate and cocoa powder.

chopped chocolate
Season with salt.

Pour the mole sauce into the slow cooker with the pork in it.  Mix very thoroughly.  If the mixture is too thick, use the reserved pork juices to thin it to your liking.  When I made it, I used nearly half of the cooking juice to give it a looser consistency.  Let the newly sauced meat bubble away in your slow cooker on low for about a half hour to make sure it’s all incorporated and delish.  You will love it.

back in slow cooker

final mole

Serving suggestions:
Liz, being the creative cook that she is, served her pork mole with jicama slices.  Didn’t I tell you she was on the ball?  I never would have thought to do that.  It’s delicious.  Peel a jicama root, slice, and serve.
Another great Liz idea is to serve with cabbage leaves.  At her place we used red cabbage, but you can use anything you like.  Cabbage tends to be thicker than lettuce so it makes for a stronger delivery device that won’t break in your hand.
If you want a spicier mole sauce, finely dice  a jalapeno or other hot chili pepper and add it in the step with the onion.  Remember, pepper seeds and ribs provide the heat!
This sauce would be fab with any kind of meat you choose – chicken, beef, goat.  Simply braise or poach the meat until it is easily shredded.  Use a slow cooker or whatever method you like. Shred the meat, then mix the mole sauce into it.
No matter what meat you choose, a little squirt of fresh lime juice or even some freshly chopped cilantro is nice too.

Use this mole sauce recipe as a gateway drug.  I am.  It is fast and easy and wonderfully yummy.  My next mole foray (ha ha) will use chili peppers.  I plan to experiment with all kinds of stuff.

Rick Bayless is THE GUY when it comes to Mexican cuisine in the USA.  Here is his recipe for red mole sauce.  It is quite complicated and requires a commitment of time, but I’m sure it’s well worth it.  To make it grain-free, omit the day-old bread completely or use a tablespoon of coconut flour instead.

Here is Mark Sisson’s Primal mole sauce recipe.  I love how he serves it over a whole chicken breast.  That would save the poaching/braising step for sure!

So, who is a mole fan?  Who has made it before?  Who is trying this recipe ASAP?  What do you think is going to happen on American Horror Story this season?  What can you tell me about True Blood? Share all of your thoughts with me in the comments or on Facebook.

Half Marathon, I'm Coming For You

Remember last year when I ran the half marathon?  Well, I’m doing it again.

impulse buy half marathon2

A few months ago I put this photo on Instagram with a caption that said “Impulse buy.”  It totally was.

I belong to the Steel City Road Runners Club and as a member I get discounts on race registration.  I don’t know what came over me, but the SCRRC members got a really nice reduced rate, plus the ability to register a full day before registration was opened up to the general public.  Everyone was signing up and I got swept up in the moment!

I’m not beating myself up too badly for this because if I’m going to impulse buy anything, better that it’s a half marathon rather than something I don’t need and/or can’t afford.  Amirite?

Honestly, I am quite excited about this year’s race for a few reasons:
1. The Pittsburgh Marathon is a really great event.  I am really fortunate to live in a beautiful city with 89 unique neighborhoods and some really fabulous people.  The course winds through several different neighborhoods and across all three of our rivers.  The course support and cheering is fantastic and each area seems to out-do the one before.
2. The start line and the finish line are in my neighborhood.  In fact, the finish line is visible from my living room windows.  The energy and positive vibe of the day is so contagious that if I DIDN’T run, it would really make me feel terribly to see and hear the hoopla from my place.  It would almost be like there was a giant community party outside of my door and I wasn’t invited.  The event is so well run and so much fun that I feel compelled to participate especially because it is so close.

3. Last year, it was really really hard.  I’ve only ever run one other half marathon and let me tell you, it was a bear.  I definitely feel a sense of accomplishment for having done it, and like I mentioned above, the event is second to none.  But it was terribly difficult for me.  I didn’t train properly or enough.  I had no idea what to expect.  I am proud of how I did, but I know it could have been a better experience.  This year is my chance.

4. Triumph over injury.  Remember my horrific ankle sprain of 2012?  Awful.  A terrible setback that kept me from doing any running at all for almost 4 months.  But, I fought back and my ankle has improved greatly thanks to a few key people and my own stubbornness.  I have run four races (5k) since I’ve been allowed to get back out on the road, and I’ve run many many many more miles to begin training.  I won’t lie and say that my ankle is as good as new.  It isn’t and might not ever be back to normal.  But it gets stronger every time I run and it gets healthier with each step.  The injury took the wind out of my sails in a lot of ways and I want to come back from it a stronger and more determined athlete.  I might break down in tears after I cross the half marathon finish this year if I think about how hard it was to overcome this crazy ankle thing!

5. I am a weak runner.  There is just no getting around this fact.  Running does not come easily to me.  In fact, I could say that about any type of physical activity.  I am not a natural born athlete.  I have to work for each little accomplishment.  I have to truly earn it.  I really do envy those of you who can run a few miles, lift a few hundred pounds, bike a century, or swim a few dozen laps with ease.  I can’t.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t.  In fact, it’s all the more reason I should try these things.  There is absolutely no point in only doing things that come easily to me.  No benefit, no triumph, no victory, no pride.  I might come in last, but at least I’ll be out there trying my best.

So, there you have it.  Call it a resolution, call it a goal, call it stupidity, call it glutton for punishment.  I’m going to call it a victory.

Now it’s your turn to share!  What are you planning to accomplish this year? Are you motivated to try something new?  Are you giving a 2012 challenge another go like I am?  Share your plans with me in the comments or on Facebook.

Happy 2013!

Well, well, well.  Look who is back from the abyss.  Me!

Oh, my dear readers, I have so much to share. Where to begin?

I dropped off the face of the Internet and Blogosphere.  Why?  Because I have been personally overwhelmed with a few issues in my life, not the least of which is the darling little fermentation book I’m cooking up for all of you.  Yes, I am going to give you the “I’ve been sooooo busy!” excuse.  It’s true, but it is really a lame and pathetic excuse. Don’t you hate it when someone tells you they’ve been too busy to be a friend?  It’s essentially like saying that you have been de-prioritized or downgraded and that you don’t rank high enough to warrant an email, phone call, text, or blog post.

Sigh.

I’ve let you down, readers!

I have had ample time, strictly speaking.  I found time outside of book writing to do fun things and take a little three-day trip out of the country, to celebrate my birthday (39! Represent!), complete a knitting project, and to see a movie or two. So why haven’t I found time to post here and keep all of you educated and entertained?

Fear. Writer’s block. Feeling pressure. Being overwhelmed with thoughts on direction and purpose. You know, the usual.

You see, I’m the health coach, right?  I’m the one who is supposed to have it all together and eat really well, and be inspired so I can help others to do the same.  But the thing is, I wasn’t feeling it at all.  I was sucked into the perfectionism vortex that is oh so common – if I can’t do this perfectly and be a smashing success at it, then why even bother?

Oh health coach woman!  Silly you!

I know better.  And that’s why I’m back.

I’m going to post regularly again here in 2013, and while I’m going to do a kick butt job of trying to educate and inspire, I’m also going to let my human side show through too.  I’ve shared my flaws and trials here, but only if they were relevant to health and wellness.  I’ll continue to do that, but I’m also going to share more other stuff too.  Personal trials and vulnerabilities that you might be experiencing too.  We can learn and grow together.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more and better.  Thanks to all of you who are still reading.

Love,
Jill