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Archive for July, 2015

Surviving July: Tips to ensure you stay hydrated

July 20th, 2015

I’m a weather person.  I have multiple weather apps on my iPhone and find myself checking the weekly and hourly forecasts in addition to the Doppler radar at regular intervals throughout the day.  Being July, most days tend to look something like this.


There’s no denying it, we are in the beef of summer and here in the Florida Panhandle it is hot.  Not only is it hot, the humidity on most days resembles that of a steam room.  Even at the earliest hour you’ll rarely find temperatures that dip as low as the mid 70s and a walk down the driveway leaves you dripping and contemplating whether the smell of your shirt is still acceptable.

On top of this, the heat makes getting out for your daily run a little harder.  Heat like this can be quite daunting and discouraging as you find your normal easy run pace seems to be a lot harder than it was two months ago.  It’s not only harder mentally to get through a run in this weather but it’s also harder on your body. At this time of year, we not only have to think ahead about wearing extra deodorant but also staying on top of hydration.

When we start exercising, our core body temperature begins to increase.  In order for the body to maintain a stable core temperature and prevent the body from overheating, this heat must be released.  By shunting blood flow to the skin, heat can be released through movement of fluid from the bloodstream to the surface of the skin in the form of sweat.  When this fluid evaporates, it has a cooling effect on the body.  Overtime, the loss of fluid from the bloodstream causes the blood to lose volume and become more viscous.  This means that the heart has to work harder to ensure blood is being pumped adequately to the working muscles to deliver oxygen.  In order to prevent overworking of the heart, consumption of fluid is necessary to prevent the volume of blood from declining significantly.

Hence why hydration is important, especially in the level of heat and humidity (which makes evaporation of liquids that much more difficult) we experience here in the Panhandle.  All this being said, here’s the catch with hydration, it’s very much differentiated by the individual.  Different people have different fluid absorption rates and there are multiple factors that can affect this even within one individual.  So moral of the story is, know your body and make a plan to stay on top of your fluid consumption.  Here are a few guidelines to help you in determining your hydration plan.

1.  Use you body’s communication system

Check the toilet.  The color of your urine is a good indication of what’s going on inside.  If your urine is pale-yellow or straw colored, that’s a good indication that your body is hydrated.

2.  Weigh In and Weigh Out

Knowing how much weight you lose during a workout can be very helpful in determining your hydration plan.  Use a sweat loss rate calculator to determine how much fluid you lose during an hour of activity.  Fluid loss beyond 2-3% of one’s body weight can translate into performance decline and negative health effects. Plan accordingly to attenuate excessive loss through consumption of fluids at regular intervals during your workout.  Granted, this amount will vary in different environments, so it’s useful to know your sweat rates in several conditions.  If you’re training for a race or other event, determine your sweat rate in conditions similar to those on race day.  For after your workout, use the rule of thumb  for every 1 lb weight lost during exercise, drink 20-24 oz of fluids to replenish that loss  and encourage rehydration.

3.  Add a dash of salt

Consumption of fluids containing sodium during longer-duration exercise can help to improve water retention and encourage thirst.  Classic sports drinks or hydration powders available are great options (My personal favorite is the delicious, fruit-based hydration powder by Skratch Labs).   If you find that after a workout, you have white residue on darker clothing you probably fall into the classification of salty sweater.  Especially during hot times of the year like now, you may need to up your sodium intake slightly during your workout and potentially throughout the day during meals to encourage sodium and fluid balance*.

4.  Start in fueled up

I would hope this is common sense, but don’t head out into the heat if you haven’t been drinking enough fluids.  Starting your workout dehydrated is just a bad idea.  Especially if you are exercising later in the day, make sure that you have been consuming enough fluids.  Consume fluids regularly throughout the day and try to consume 1-2 cups of fluids 4 hours before and again 2 hours before your workout.  If you run first thing in the morning, top yourself off with 1-2 cups of water before you head out.

*If you have been told that you have high blood pressure or heart disease, consult with your doctor and dietitian about what your daily sodium intake should be.

20-Minute Meal: Shrimp and Zucchini Stir-Fry

July 20th, 2015

Last week was one of those weeks where time seems to melt away like an ice cube in a parking lot midday during the Florida summer.  For many of us in this situation, complete meals are out of the question much less an organized trip to the grocery store.  Well, I feel ya.  Having been out of town all last week for a conference then heading straight back to work as soon as I returned, the grocery store just didn’t happen. Hence my reasoning for this quick, easy and delicious shrimp and zucchini stir fry.  Believe or not, you can make a complete, nutritious meal when you’re short on time using simple ingredients that you have on hand.

Even though a trip to the supermarket did not happen, I had some shrimp in my freezer for this recipe.  I like to keep a few protein options on hand that I can turn to for times like this.  I’ll usually stock a meal’s worth of frozen shrimp, chicken breast and/or some sort of fish that I can easily transfer to the fridge morning-of to ensure I have a good protein source at dinner that night. Side note: One trick to quickly thaw meat (especially for chicken breasts) is to put the meat in a freezer bag, place in a bowl and cover with water. Put this in your fridge while you’re at work for the day.  By the time you get home your meat should be thawed.

However, this time around, I didn’t even think ahead enough to put my shrimp in the fridge. I ended up just popping them in the skillet frozen, cooked them until pink, drained the water and set them aside until they ready to be incorporated into the recipe.  Feel free to do the same.

The remaining ingredients were items I usually keep in my pantry or fridge.  If you find that there are things on the list you do not have, there are creative ways to make it work for you.  My mom had picked up the zucchini I used from a friend who home-grows a selection of summer vegetables.  Selecting fresh, in-season vegetables ensures that you the most bang for your buck nutrient-wise from your produce.  Because they grow in their preferred environment and can ripen as needed, the nutrient profile of produce in season far out weighs that of out-of-season.  This being said frozen vegetables are a great substitute, because they are often harvested when ripe before frozen and therefore retain their nutrient profile very well.  So no worries if you don’t have fresh, in-season zucchini, try substituting a vegetable of your choice; thawing frozen broccoli or stir fry blend vegetables are easy options that would taste great in this recipe.

Shrimp and Zucchini Stir-FryIMG_2767

  • 1-8 oz package noodles (I used brown rice Pad Thai noodles, you can find these in the international section)
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1-2 medium zucchinis, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into half-moon shape
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Sriracha sauce
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro or ~ 2 tsp cilantro paste
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  1. Cook noodles according to package directions. Rinse under cold water and set aside.
  2. While waiting on water for noodles to boil, make the stir-fry sauce. Stir together soy sauce, brown sugar, Sriracha sauce, ginger and sesame oil in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet or wok, heat 1-2 Tbsp olive oil over medium-low heat. Add red pepper flakes and toast for one minute. Than add eggs. Stirring gently, cook for about 3 minutes or until done. Set eggs aside on a small plate.
  4. Increase heat to medium-high and add a dash more olive oil to the skillet or wok. Toss in shrimp and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until shrimp are pink. Once done, set shrimp aside on a separate plate.
  5.  Increase heat to high, add more olive oil if needed and char sliced zucchini for about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 additional minute. IMG_2772
  6. Turn heat down to medium-low and add noodles, shrimp, eggs, and stir-fry sauce to skillet. Stir until all ingredients are coated in sauce. Top with green onions and cilantro just before serving. Enjoy!