Setting a Fitness Goal

A lot of people think about fitness in terms of weight/weight loss. That’s great for a while. It’s easy to be motivated to lose weight for a short period, but then we burn out. We get off track. We forget about our goals.

I love having fitness goals that are about something else. I like having short-term challenges for myself. I am just finishing up an 8 week challenge I set for myself to do a specific (and very difficult) commercially sold exercise video program. This is the last week and I am so glad it’s almost over. I’m tired of it. I’m bored with it. I need something new!

Starting February 29, for the next six weeks, I am training for my very first 10K race. I am pretty pumped! I will keep you updated on my progress. Race day is April 16. Week one of my crash-course training will look something like this:

In case you’re unfamiliar with the metric system, 10K is 6.2 miles. The longest race I’ve done to date was 4 miles, and that was in 2012!! I have run at total of 3 miles in 2016, and I didn’t run much more than that in 2015!

Monday: Stretch workout
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 2 miles (easy pace), 4×1 minute intervals of faster paced, 2 more mile (easy pace)
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 4 miles easy with 3 gentle pick-ups
Saturday: 5 miles, easy pace

I will probably be walking a lot this week! I know I can run a solid mile, and by solid I mean slow but steady. I know I can almost run a (very) slow 2 miles. I don’t know I can run any further than that without stopping to walk some. That’s okay with me! I will do the best I can and I will be proud of that!

Quick Tip Tuesday: Post Workout Milk


Yes, I said MILK! Drinking chocolate milk after an intense workout may sound gross- it’s not- but it replenishes what was lost during the workout.

Carbohydrates in milk help boost energy because physical exercise depletes the body’s glycogen stores. Glycogen is the storage form of glucose- which feeds your brain and nervous system.

There’s quite a bit of water in milk, so it can help hydrate.

Also, there are electrolytes in milk- so skip the sports drink.

Why chocolate? If you have to ask, we can’t be friends.

Foodie Friday: What is the deal with coconut oil?

Have you ever cooked with coconut oil? If you like coconuts, you’d probably like cooking with coconut oil. It smells great when it melts down in a hot pan, and it gives the foods you cook in it a slight coconutty flavor. You know what it doesn’t do? Cure all that ails you. It just doesn’t.

I know that there is a lot of information out in Internet Land that is convincing people to eat two tablespoons of coconut oil a day, and swish it around in their mouths for twenty minutes at a time, and a whole host of other things… BUT it’s not magic. It’s not magic. It’s. Not. Magic.

I decided to do a search of scientific periodicals to see what scientific researchers have to say about coconut oil. Know what I found? Very little. The truth is that very little scientific research has been done recently- that’s because coconut oil hasn’t changed  in the last fifty years or so and so science already knows what it knows about coconut oil- that it is a saturated fat. It is solid at room temperature and it is not  better for you than mono- and poly-unsaturated fats.

Unsaturated fats can help lower LDL, the bad cholesterol and raise HDL, the good cholesterol. Saturated fats tend to raise LDL and lower HDL. Coconut oil has been found to raise both LDL and HDL, which is unique but not a reason to tout it as a superfood.

Here are the fat comparisons, as found in “Get the Facts on Coconut Oil,” an article from Environmental Nutrition in 2014:

Fat Comparison

Like I said before, coconut oil can be a delicious fat choice, but we need to remember that it is a fat and fat should be consumed in moderation. I really like coconut oil for my occasional vegetable or fish saute, but as for swishing it around in my mouth for 20 minutes or pouring it over every meal, I think I’ll take a pass!

Backyard Gardening: Good for the Whole Family


Anyone can have a garden, no matter how busy or how small your yard. How can someone with very little, or no, yard have a garden? Containers! Container gardening is extremely versatile and takes up as much– or as little– space as you want. This means containers can be used with a very small yard, or with no yard at all.

Almost anything can be used as a container for plants. If it will hold soil, and you can drill or punch a hole in it, it can be used. Holes are needed for drainage. When containers do not let water drain, it can cause problems for root formation and health.

When gardening in containers, the important thing to consider is size. Different plants need different sizes of containers because of their individual root systems. Below are some common container plants and corresponding pot sizes. Keep in mind that in Oklahoma, we have an extremely hot and dry climate during growing season. Full-sun might mean morning sun, afternoon shade to keep plants from completely burning in our brutal heat. I grow my herbs that way with success. The Oklahoma summer is just too harsh for the delicate leaves of herbs.  Also with full-sun plants, water evaporates much more quickly from containers than from gardens in the ground.  It is important to keep an eye on the moisture in the container and water when needed- which might be more than one time a day, especially during the later summer months.  Same goes for nutrients in the soil.  Soil nutrients are more quickly depleted from a container. For more information on soil fertility, contact your Cooperative Extension office.

  • Tomatoes need at least 5 gallons of soil
  • Okra needs a 5 gallon container
  • Lettuce needs a 3 gallon container
  • Peppers need 3 gallons of soil
  • Herbs typically need 1 gallon per plant

This is a GREAT way to teach your children about food and where it comes from. There are so many kids who grow up in urban areas and think that all food comes from the grocery store. Some experts are now saying that this disconnect from food production is contributing to unhealthy eating habits in our youngsters. Gardening with kids can be a fun activity to bring the whole family together, while learning about the science of plants. It gets everyone outside, and kids are more likely to try the vegetables they helped to grow!



Quick Tip Tuesday: Update Your Emergency Kit

If you’re like me, your emergency kit from last spring is still sitting down in your tornado shelter. Now is a great time to get it out and update it. Throw out old food products and add in new. Make sure your supplies are all there and plentiful. You may need to make a few changes. Last year, my daughter was probably in a size 2 or 3 diaper. This year she is in a size 5.

Get it done today, while the weather is not stormy. The first time you have to use your shelter, you’ll thank yourself!

Foodie Friday: Millionaire Sauce

Have you ever heard of Millionaire Sauce? It’s a great dipping sauce chicken, fish and veggies! It would be a great addition to your Super Bowl menu Line-Up!

Millionaire Sauce

1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
1⁄4 cup ketchup
1⁄2 tablespoon garlic powder
1⁄2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tablespoon sweet pickle relish *optional

Try it. You’ll like it!


Super Bowl Food Safety

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, food poisoning sickens 1 in 6 people annually. Sporting events, like the Super Bowl are big days for food. Follow these four tips to keep your party guests safe from food poisoning.
1) Clean, clean, clean. When preparing food for a party, wash all produce, wash your hands and surfaces often. When we are preparing larger than usually portions of food, and preparing different types of foods, it is easy to cross-contaminate. That is, it is easy to accidentally get bacteria from raw meats on other foods that are already cooked or are meant to be served raw. It is important to wash your hands every time you touch raw meat. clean the surfaces touched by raw meats, and discard of any packaging from raw meats quickly and safely.

2) Separate. Use separate plates for raw and cooked foods when grilling. Take the hamburgers to the grill on one plate, bring them back on another. Also keep things separate in the grocery cart and refrigerator.

3) Cook food to the proper temperature.

Ground beef should be cooked to 160 degrees F.
Ground poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees F.
Steaks, ham and pork need to reach at least 145 degrees F.
All chicken and turkey products should reach 165 degrees F.

4) Chill properly. Foods should only sit at room temperature for up to two hours. Soups and chili should be placed in a shallow container so that it can cool down quickly before putting it in the fridge. Foods left out longer than two hours should be thrown out!

Don’t take chances with your health. Don’t make your friends sick at your Super Bowl Party. They won’t come back.

When it doubt, throw it out!

Quick Tip Tuesday: Gardening Prep

We just came through a warm weekend in an Oklahoma winter. Those warm weekends love to tease us into thinking winter is almost over, but unfortunately, we are usually wrong.

It is always fun to start planning the garden when it starts to warm up, but do not make the mistake of planting too soon! There is no reason to plant anything in OK before the middle of February, but most plantings should wait until a little later. You don’t want your beautiful baby tomatoes to get frost bite in April!

If you aren’t sure when to plant, give your County Extension Ag Educator a call!