Wednesday, October 7, 2009

You Are Here

I realized something the other day: For the first time in my life, I feel completely satisfied with my physique.

At 31, I am fitter than I have ever been. Leaner. Stronger. With a BMI of roughly 18, I'm in the "low-normal" or "athlete" range for females (who, me?). I have a six-pack and obliques and (according to Ironman, who might be biased) a pretty nice butt.

But it isn't about looks, is it? It's about health. Longevity. Vitality. Ability.
I love being able to lift heavier and run faster than ever before -- not for numbers on a chart, though visual progress is satisfying, but because it's practical, here on the farm, to be able to lift ranch panels and buck hay and haul water.

I love being able to hike up a mountain, row down a river, camp in the wilderness, ride a horse 50 miles in a day.

I love feeling as though I have, for once, actually arrived.

Not that I'll stop striving. I'll still add weight, still try to make each hill sprint faster than the one before. All the same, it's high time I settled back a bit, mentally, so as to enjoy not just the doing, but the sense of having done.

Fitness is freedom, my friends. It ought to be earned -- and once earned, it ought to be enjoyed.

Seize the day.

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Primal Hamburger Casserole

Raise your hand if you've ever eaten Hamburger Helper. (Yes, I confess that my hand is up. But I haven't touched the stuff in at least 4 years, and I rarely did so before that.)

Because my family lived on a small farm and raised a beef cow every year, I grew up eating a lot of ground beef. Though I never have come around to liking meatloaf, I do have fond memories of meaty spaghetti sauce, thick burgers, and hamburger casserole.

The problem with most hamburger casseroles, however, is that they tend to include pasta and/or beans, either of which renders them high-carb and un-primal. Fortunately, a dose of big flavor (in the form of herbs, olives, and especially sundried tomatoes) can primalize this meal with ease.

I've enjoyed this quick, one-dish casserole several times lately, including once over spaghetti squash fried in butter for a large dinner, and once for breakfast with an egg over easy on top. If you eat dairy, a sprinkle of parmisan or cheddar would make an excellent garnish. I used fresh herbs because my garden is bursting with them, but dried will work too if they're all you have on hand.

Primal Hamburger Casserole

1/3 lb ground beef (not lean -- we want those saturated fats!)
1/3 cup onion, julienned
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 mushrooms, sliced
10 black olives, sliced
10 sundried tomato halves, chopped
1 Tbs each fresh basil and oregano (or 1 tsp each dried)

Pre-heat skillet over medium flame. Add beef, onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Stir to crumble beef, and occasionally until meat is cooked. Add olives, sundried tomatoes, and herbs and cook about 1 minute until heated through. Serves 1.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

On the Road Again

It's vacation time! Ironman and I are spending six days in Idaho's Owyhee canyonlands -- a vast, scenic expanse of rough canyons, steep hills, sagebrush, antelope, and sky.

I'm spending much of my time horseback, participating in the Owyhee Canyonlands Pioneer multi-day endurance race. Technically, my mare and I are doing Limited Distance (30 mile races) rather than endurance (50+ mile races) because this is her first year in the sport and she's not quite fit for endurance yet. Still, we hope to rack up 85 miles throughout the week.

Ironman, meanwhile, is splitting his time between volunteering in ridecamp and exploring the glories of Idaho with a fly rod in one hand and his rifle in the other. Hmm...maybe we'll get another meal of trout and chukar out of the deal!

If not, we're still eating well and as primal as possible. Planning primal meals for a whole week in camp is a bit tougher than it was for just the weekend race we attended last month. I've packed a variety of cold, cooked meats, tinned and smoked fish, avocados, eggs (hardboiled and raw), Primal Energy Mix, nut butters, Larabars, sliced veggies, fresh fruits, primal dressings and dips, and possibly some adult beverages, just in case.

We take our vacation food seriously, Ironman and I...but not too seriously. ;)