A little victory

I am so happy, and that is because I was finally able to make pizza at home. Pizza is one of my favorite foods and making it has been an obsession of mine for a long time. I’ve tried twice before and both times it was a big fiasco :(. So today I planned to try 2 recipes and decided I wouldn’t give up no matter what.

My first recipe was this recipe and I kept my hopes high due to multiple positive comments and also because I got this recipe from here and this website is my newest obsession as well. The second recipe was this one and I loved the fact that beer was one of the ingredients. I followed both recipes to a tee and made the first pizza for meat eaters with ham, mushrooms, olives and extra cheese, the second one was vegetarian with olives, mushrooms and some cheese. The first came out a little thicker and saltier, my daughter loved it, but the rest of us liked the “beer pizza” recipe better. It was awesome to say the least!

Ham Pizza

Veg Pizza

I had a great time today cooking with my mother and feeding the whole family a homemade pizza. I am not sure I would want a chain store pizza ever again!

Good night~


Sweet 10!

Good morning!

I am happy and thrilled to finally be off work for a week. It is not a vacation or some sort of special arrangement. It is my schedule – work 7 days (or nights), off 7 days.

Random self portrait in the middle of the night on the elevator

I have a tradition to have Panera Bread breakfast every time I am done with my night shifts. Working at night at a busy hospital like mine requires some getting used to. Before I started working out being on nights was, well, a nightmare. I would go to work, drag myself around, come home and sleep all day feeling sorry for myself. These days I prefer doing nights only because I love working out first thing in the morning. My energy level is so much higher and I feel great! Of course, by the time night number 7 rolls around I am ready to do something else :) Panera bagels are great and symbolize freedom to me. So today it was an “everything” bagel and veggie cream cheese. So good!

Came home and found Slavik getting dressed for a run. My heart melted and of course I joined him! My schedule called for 10 miles today and I was planning on doing them after a nap, but the moment was right and I went for it. My Garmin was dead and my phone barely had any charge in it. Somehow I picked up an excellent pace without knowing what it was, in fact it was so right for me, that after running 10 miles I felt I could run 5 more! Probably, much slower than usual.

This was waiting for us at home!

Slavik did great, completed week 1 day 2 of Couch to 5K. I am very proud of him!

I refueled with pumpkin roll. Yeah, I know, not the best, but it worked really well for my taste buds. Now I am thinking shower and nap, after that a conference call with my boss in Arizona. Evening will be fully devoted to wine and fireplace. I am also itching to cook something from Veganomicon, my favorite cookbook ever. Oh, and not to forget Christmas decorating!

Have a great day!



Good morning!

Work flew by last night and here I am, back home, cozy and warm with a cup of green tea on this gloomy chilly morning. I am trying to decrease the amount of coffee I drink and so far I have been successful substituting it with green tea. I don’t drink coffee to wake up or have energy, in fact, my energy levels are through the roof and the nature of my job taught me to wake up and fall asleep on a moments notice without any trouble. I love the taste of coffee and the ritual of coffee and having been an addict for close to 20 years it is difficult to wean myself off. I don’t think I will ever stop completely, but I would like to limit myself to 1 cup a day and currently I have about 3.

But I digress.

Let’s talk about inspiration a little bit. So many people at work are asking me to share a secret of inspiration with them. How do I keep myself motivated to run? How in the world can you run non stop for 3 hours? Is it boring? Painfully horrible? Or what? How did I even start with the whole thing of transformation from the most professional couch potato ever to a health fanatic?

 After years and years of procrastination one day you just have to say: Buck Stops Here and I am changing for good. I don’t believe in half ass transformations. I don’t believe in instant change. I believe in making a firm decision and having a plan. For example, don’t say I will start working out, a lot, real soon. Say  – I am going to sign up for gym membership on Wednesday and will go 3 times a week and my first day is Friday.

Get your support circle involved. Announce your decision to your family, friends, coworkers. Social networks are great for the purpose of accountability. One Facebook status can go a long way. If you announce something to 100 friends of yours on Facebook, it will be difficult not to follow through.

Lower your expectations and set realistic goals. Don’t expect to be able to run 5 miles right off the bat, start with small increments, more like 0.1 mile. I am not kidding – you won’t be able to run longer than 1-2 min in the beginning and that’s normal. The same goes about weight loss. Stick with 1-2 lbs a week and keep trucking along.

Get yourself equipped, but don’t go overboard. To work out you need clothes. Start with basics –  pants, shirts, socks, shoes. Don’t worry about heart rate monitors, Garmin, Camelbacks, etc. Most likely it won’t be necessary for the beginner as you are and it is easy to get confused and disoriented trying to buy the latest gear and not really knowing what to do with it. And it adds up financially. If you want to start running – get yourself a good pair of running shoes right from the start. The best way is to get fitted with the right pair at a specialty running store. Consult your runner friends, Google or Yellow Pages for locations and price comparison.

Get yourself a workout buddy. No matter how much motivation you have in the very beginning, you will need somebody to keep you accountable and push you along the way. It is difficult to skip a workout at 6 am if you know your friend is waiting there for you. In my case my friend Marina was absolutely perfect for the job :) She was in the same boat needing an overhaul to her life and our partnership worked out wonderfully. Both of us  have gone through a successful transformation, lost a considerable amount of weigh and became fit.

Don’t be discouraged with minor setbacks. This is very important. If you get sick, take time to recover, but come back at it the first chance you get. If there is a tornado in the area and you can’t run, wait and run tomorrow. So many people are all or nothing kind of guys. If I can’t work out today, then forget it, the whole week is screwed! Oh, I ate a donut at work, let’s pig out the rest of the day and the rest of the year while we are at it! In your overall endurance and conditioning taking 1-2 days off won’t matter, but if you take a month off you might as well start from scratch. An extra donut won’t damage your day of healthy eating too much, but a month of overeating sets you back significantly. I learned how not to stress out over these type of things and I advise you do the same.

Read fitness magazines. Subscribe or buy regularly. There is a ton of knowledge, inspiration and motivation there. You can share them with your work out buddy to reduce costs. Read healthy living blogs, books, visit websites, such as runnersworld.com for more info.

Get a physical and clearance from your doctor if you have chronic illnesses or you are older than 35 and have been sedentary. This one is frequently overlooked and it can be dangerous not to know what your health status is and engage in strenuous physical activity.

Do what you like and enjoy it! If you absolutely hate to swim, then banking on regular swimming workouts is probably silly. If you enjoy playing tennis and riding a bike you are more likely to stick with the program if you do these activities as a mainstay of your fit lifestyle. If everything else fails or you don’t really know where to start  – start with walking. It is free and it is great!

Take rest days. To keep your motivation high and avoid burnout, please take regularly scheduled rest days. For example, in running all the magic happens on your off days when you heal and repair your muscles and rest your cardiovascular system. You have to let your body and mind recover, it will thank you later.

I think I did pretty good with this post, right? :)

Have a great Sunday.




Exciting news

Hello, friends!

I do have some great news to share. My husband Slava finally decided to give running a try!! I am pumped up about it and very pleased to see that my dedication to running and exercise produced some tangible results :)

He downloaded a good old Couch to 5K app on his phone and today we had our first run. It was so nice to get out for a run together and spend 40 minutes in a crisp cold fall air running and chatting. We will see where the road takes us!

Sushi for dinner, now off to work I go.

Good night!


Black Friday anyone?

Good morning!

How is life? As we are waking up from a food coma let me tell you -I will never eat again :)

Yesterday I had to eat turkey… Enough said. It was either my marriage or the turkey. Slava, my husband, is a very good cook. He doesn’t cook much, but what he makes is simple and delicious. He makes the best grilled meat, he also roasts the best turkey for Thanksgiving and goose or duck for Christmas. He basically put up an ultimatum – you either eat my turkey or else. Marriage being on the line and all I decided to play along and be “normal” again. My family members call meat eaters normal and everyone else, you know, not normal, I guess.

Poor turkey was delicious, no questions about it, but come on – I have lost my taste for meat forever , it seems. I can live eating 2 pieces of meat a year for Thanksgiving and Christmas, aside from that – no, thanks! And I am only doing it not to offend my husband. Veganomicon’s mushroom walnut pate was a huge hit.

Mom’s mashed potatoes were to die for. My sourdough bread stuffing was delicioso, but 1 stick of butter that the recipe calls for is simply ridiculous :)

After a heavy meal I had to work at night, oh so NOT fun! My coworkers are all crazy about Black Friday shopping. I never understood the necessity to get up at  an ungodly hour and fight the crowds all day long for a few bucks savings. Local channel showed some funny footage of enraged shoppers pushing  each other aside just to get to their stuff in the store. Very sad?

Lets be nice to each other and thankful for what we have. Let’s live within our means and want less of materialistic and more of spiritual things.




Trying to do it all


I am running around like crazy over here. My day in a nutshell: finished work at 7am, drove home like a mad woman to go to bed to be up at 11 to attend the meeting at work. I was so much in a hurry I didn’t feed my cat… That is not normal, my friends. I ALWAYS feed my cat no matter what – tornado, earthquake , you name it.

Grisha, I certainly hope you will able to forgive me some day…


Anyhow, work meeting done at 1:45 pm, drove home, found my hubby stressing over a warranty call to Whirlpool to fix our washer, helped him out even though I absolutely hate calling boring places and talk about washing machine repairs. Then we planned our Thanksgiving menu, late, I know! Then he decided to be crazy and go grocery shopping for the last minute items and I? I was craving a run, insane person who worked 12 hours, slept 3.5 hrs and who is facing another 12 hour shift at a crazy place called HOSPITAL :)

I had 4 miles on my schedule and did just that. Ran  a few hills here and there, listened to some upbeat tunes and was done in no time. My legs didn’t feel too fresh, but okay anyway.

Refueled with banana/almond milk/chia seeds smoothie. Now what? Sitting in the living room with my family staring at the computer screen and planning my cooking for tomorrow.

I will make a mushroom walnut pate from Veganomicon, sourdough bread stuffing (my own recipe) and mushroom gravy. I am a mushroom fanatic, can you tell?

Have a great night!



Yay for marathon training!

I think I am going to train for a full marathon…

Just saying these words makes me happy. Not sure how things have changed so much for me, but only 8-9 months ago while reading my fav healthy living blogs I would skip running and exercise parts only concentrating on recipes and social aspect. Now, I want to get to the running parts skipping everything else :)

I am using this plan to get ready. Hal Higdon’s plans worked for me while training for 10K and half marathon, I am sure it will do the job this time around. The good news is I am half ready! I also think I love running enough not to burn out and as a matter of fact being a newbie and not having a time goal relaxes me about the whole thing! Jeff Galloway is right there for me :) Every time I am getting ready for a long run I tell myself: “If things get tough I will just Galloway myself to the finish line” meaning I will start walking and running having a specific ratio in mind, for example, 4 min running followed by 1 min walking. You can talk yourself into doing anything for 4 minutes, right? Honestly, never had to resort to walk-run-walk method, but knowing about it helps tremendously.

Nutrition part of it doesn’t bother me at all. I will just fuel appropriately and not consider my marathon training as a free ticket to gluttony! That seems to be a downfall for many as I read complaints of a weight gain during marathon training all around the blog world.

I think I will start from week 9 and run 3-7-4-10 miles. Sounds doable to me!

I just want to feel like this again :)

Now work !

Dinner will be Thai Fried Quinoa by Mama Pea and my version of Chickpea Curry.


2 medium onions

1 tomato

3 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons of curry powder

1 can of chickpeas

1/2 can of light coconut milk

1/2 cup of cashews

Chop and saute onions in a little bit of olive oil until translucent. Add pressed garlic, continue sauteeing, don’t burn the garlic! Chop tomatoes and add to the pan, saute all of it for a few minutes. Add curry powder, let the veggies coat in it and absorb the oil a little. Add coconut milk, chickpeas, grind cashews in a food processor and add as a thickening agent, but it is not necessary. Increase the heat to a boiling point, then turn down to low and simmer for 5-10 min. Watch the bottom of the pan as this gravy with nuts and coconut milk may burn. Add some salt to taste. Add lime juice and cilantro at the end right before serving. Serve with any grain you want, or just with pita bread or naan.

Good night!



Zen runner or not?

Good afternoon!

How is your day going?

Mine started right – I went out and finally ran some serious distance! 8 miles on the dot and I LOVED it.

So, today I used no devices, such as Garmin or Nike/GPS, and just ran as I felt! There are people who do it all the time and there are runners who can’t even think about getting out without their beloved technology.

Pros of ZEN running:

1. Relaxation

2. Meditation

3. Concentration

4. Being in touch with your body

5. No stress

Cons of ZEN running:

1. Going too fast and having trouble with pacing and eventually finishing. Going too slow is a bonus.

And… not much more!

I had an awesome run and paced myself perfectly! I know my “hood” so well and figured my distance was slightly over 8 miles. Just what I needed.

Lunch was my mom’s beet soup and Whole Foods whole wheat bread (we bought it in San Antonio last week) with some refried beans on the top. Delicious!

Dinner will be Mama Pea’s Thai Fried Quinoa and hot hummus. Oh, and a banana bread flavored beer.


Good night!



On the road, AGAIN!

Hello there!

I do love to travel, but lately it is getting a little too much! I am in sunny Phoenix, Arizona for a work related meeting and some fun.

Being on the go is challenging on many levels, but the worst part is being away from your kitchen and your exercise routine. Oh, almost forgot, and your family :).  Dallas airport gets an average rating from me on their food choices. I ended up eating a veggie wrap from Au Bon Pain. I have never eaten there, but looking back it wasn’t too bad.  At least I avoided Mc Donalds, score!

3 miles on Wednesday prior to my trip, abs on Thursday evening after the cocktail party, where I did NOT have any cocktails! Those who know me wouldn’t believe it!! I am not the one who turns down a cocktail, ever, but yesterday I wasn’t feeling it. Tomorrow we have a walk/run scheduled at 6 am for those who show up and I am planning on showing up :) I am also planning on having wine tonight, so we will see where the road takes me.

Getting ready for a fancy shmancy dinner at Biltmore Arizona, hoping to post pictures of this beautiful place some time!

Did I say I was tired of traveling?

Don’t listen to me!



San Antonio Half Marathon Recap

Good evening!

I apologize for the blogging hiatus, but my life was so packed with events and intermittent work, I didn’t know what to do first -blog or survive. Of course, San Antonio Rock And Roll race is still on my mind and I can’t get over the feeling of accomplishment and joy :)

I started out with a huge doubt in my mind as far as how much running to do on my taper week and ended up only running 4.75 miles on Tuesday with the race being on Sunday. I felt like running more, but work got so busy if I do say so myself, that I couldn’t make ANY time for running, zero! It felt wrong not to do the second day of running, but I quickly got over it.

Slava and I left around noon on Friday and decided to only make it to Dallas and spend the night there. We did a little shopping at the outlet mall and settled for the night at Homewood Suites, old, but cozy place in Addision, Texas. We had dinner at Texas De Brazil and loved every little morsel of our food. The husband had lots  and lots of meat and I had a salad bar to myself plus 2 glasses of wine. Good times!

We made it to San Antonio on Saturday afternoon and went directly to the expo. Being a newbie I was scared of everything and felt a little out of place, but only initially, later on the excitement came and I was a happy camper. I picked up my bib, and bought me a hat, and a hair band, and finally decided to get the heck out of there because I wanted to buy it all and no sane person should do it :)

Next morning – action time! We stayed about 1 mile from the start line and walked to the event along with dozens of other runners. I forgot to eat breakfast!!! I snacked on half banana and half a mini bagel, drank some water and visited the porta pottie. Bring Your Own Toilet Paper, baby!! Let me say no more, but listen to this very critical advice.

I was in corral 25 and we had a great group of folks there! Before I knew it we walked all the way to the the start and there I was – running my first “grown up” race.

I paced myself very strictly so nothing funny would happen. The crowds were amazing, the runners were awesome and water and cytomax stations were abundant . The only thing that looked insufficient was the number of porta potties, not nearly enough! There was a line of 6-7 people in front of each and every one of those and if I had to go, I would have been in trouble. I felt absolutely wonderful and trucked along successfully. Took my GU on mile 6, drank my water every 2-3 miles or so, had cytomax twice without a single stomach issue and had a full bladder at one point, but then  it reabsorbed?! Lucky me!

Jokes aside, it was an easy race. I trained hard, I ate well, I came prepared and mentally strong, I was there to have a great time! No time goal, no other goal, just pure pleasure of getting out there and running with thousands of people. All of a sudden it was mile 10 and the course split, then I saw a 12 mile marker, then it was over! The nasty little hill during the last 0.2 miles was tough, but then again, I could see finish line from there :)

Finish, cool rug was given to me to wipe my sweat, volunteers handed me a medal, I proceeded to the secure recovery area, had more cytomax and water, grabbed a  protein bar, it was disgusting, then I met my husband at the family reunion area and the next thing I know I was having a nice lunch and this great euphoric feeling of accomplishment!

I loved the race! Will definitely do it again :)