“Movement” while traveling…

I have to travel for work next week.  Getting at least one hour of movement accomplished every day will be challenging, but doable.  Let’s face it, easier said than done.  Hotel living, is not ideal.  It’s so easy to get lazy, watch TV and not move!  Luckily for this trip, I will be driving so, I will have my own vehicle. I’ve already found the nearest YMCA, which is a 10 min. drive from the hotel.  This will get me out in the evenings to participate in a strength class or yoga etc…  I prefer cardio, so I will do that in the morning at the hotel, or explore my surroundings and go for a run outside.  I know for me, I will not practice strength or yoga on my own, so finding a class, will motivate me.  The YMCA is great, because you can use any facility with your membership.  I joined my local YMCA a few months ago, because of an injury which prevented me from running.  I decided to start swimming, so the Y was my best option.  I didn’t realize I could use my membership at every YMCA around.  So, if you have a profession where you travel from time to time, having a Y membership is really worth it. 

When you don’t have a vehicle and you’re stuck at the hotel, you can still practice an hour of movement.  Like everything in life, how important is it to you?  Do you really want it? For me, my main life goal is to be a sentinel (living past age 100). Without movement being a regular lifestyle choice, my goal will not be completed.  It’s all about getting it done.  Most hotels are equipped with equipment; treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical, rowing machine, free weights, etc…  Also, if you like to run or walk outside, talk to the concierge.  They will provide you with safe running routes outside near the hotel.  I’ve explored great cities and towns simply by lacing up early in the morning  going for a run.  

Like all choices regarding movement, practice, etc…  You really have to want it.  It is very easy to talk yourself out of exercise.  Whenever I catch myself possibly making a terrible choice of not running or biking or going to yoga etc…  I think of a woman I met at a Bikram Yoga class.  She had been living in a rural part of Alaska and the closest Bikram studio was over an hour away.  For an entire year, she blocked off 90 min. each day, adjusted the heat appropriately in her bathroom, and practiced Bikrim Yoga poses in the mirror.  Her form was incredible.  It was so important for her to continue her practice, not having access to a studio, was not going to hold her back.  The bathroom was the one room in her home where she could conceal the heat and circulate the air properly, because of the exhaust fan.  That’s determination!  I’m fortunate to have met and spoken to many people over the years that are such an inspiration.  When I find myself possibly slipping into a rut, I think of those people to pull myself up and keep moving forward.  I also, most importantly, think of my family.  They should not have to deal with grumpy, lethargic, Nicol.  Plus, when I’m finished with whatever activity I choose, I like myself.  Happiness, accomplishment and energy are the best feelings in the world.  Just because you’re outside your comfort zone, stuck in a hotel, get up and move. Even if it’s doing sit ups, push ups, dancing etc… in your room, it’s something.  I guarantee, you will feel better.  

When you’re traveling, do you exercise / move?  What do you do?  What’s your motivation?  Let’s talk about it.  




Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone.  Here’s to a happy, healthy, active 2018!  My number one resolution, is to write more.  So, with that said, please, tell me what you’d like more of from Nicol Living.  Recipe’s, DIY projects, exercise tips etc…  Actually, I’ve decided I don’t like the word “exercise”.  I’m replacing it with “movement” or “practice”. 

Tell me what you want to read more about, friends.   Happy New Year 2018

Coconut Flour Biscuits

Coconut flour biscuits

I was making my usual weekly batch of muffins.  I decided to try coconut flour instead of brown rice or spelt flour.  The results are amazing.  I turned them into biscuits instead of muffins due to the consistency of the dough.  The consistency was more like a pie crust, dense, stiff vs. cake like.  What I like most about them, is the fact that coconut flour contains protein and fiber.  Therefore, when I eat two in the morning possibly topped with fresh ground nut butter, I am full.  The biscuits along with my coffee, is the perfect filling, fast and tasty breakfast. 

So just like my muffins, I don’t have a specific recipe that I follow.  I just use whatever I have on hand.  Here is what I did in terms of baking and ingredients for this particular batch.  Feel free to follow exactly, or make the recipe more your own.

Coconut Flour Biscuits

  • 2 cups coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 heaping tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup monk fruit sweetener
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 flax eggs (use whole eggs or egg whites) – Use whatever you like it’s just a binding agent.  Add oil if you want.  I avoid adding oil of any kind.
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 ripe mashed bananas
  • 3 apples, shredded (  I used empire)

*Mash the bananas first then remaining ingredients, except for the apple.  Mix with electric mixer

*Fold in the shredded apple

*Roll the dough in balls, place on a cookie sheet, slightly press down

*preheat oven at 350 degrees

*bake for 20 min.

The batch makes approximately 2 1/2 dozen biscuits.  You can make the dough and store it in the refrigerator and make a small amount as needed.  I did that.  I made 6 then a week later finished off the dough and made 24.  

My kids love these.  They think they’re sweet tasting.  Primarily due to the coconut, they do taste sweeter than the muffins made with other types of flour.  The coconut flour and shredded coconut add extra sweetness.  

When baking, I try to use gluten-free flours.  I don’t have a wheat allergy or celiac disease, which are serious conditions.  As I get older, I notice gluten makes me feel bloated.  Therefore, cooking things at home, I choose to make them gluten free when possible.  

Have you experimented with coconut flour?  What are your favorite dishes?  Please share.  Let get the conversation started….


Furniture face lift….Your own style….

I’ve always liked antiques when it comes to furniture.  Whenever I see new furniture, it just looks cookie cutter like it belongs in a doctor’s office waiting area.  To each their own.  I guess my sense of style is a bit eclectic.  I’ve been looking for the right dresser forever.  If you remember an older post from the summer, “curbside treasures”, you may recall the solid cherry dresser I rescued from the side of the road.  Well, it’s finally finished.  I have to say, I love how it turned out.  The grain of the wood is beautiful.  It wasn’t too difficult to re-finish.  As usual, it’s just finding the time to just get it done.

I wanted to see the grain of the wood.  So simply using my hand-held sander, I sanded the top, sides and drawer faces.  After getting the old varnish off and eliminating the scratches, I applied a clear stain for cherry wood.  Depending on the look you’re going for, you could use a colored stain, dark stain or chalk paint.  Chalk paint does not require any prior sanding.  It can simply be applied.  It’s the oldest type of furniture paint around.

What projects do you have going on?  Do you prefer a more modern, standard look?  Do you have more of an antique eclectic style?  Let’s share some ideas….

Stabilizing Endurance….

I haven’t been writing lately.  Always busy (like everyone).  Quite frankly, I’ve been a little down since my foot / hamstring injury, because I can’t run.  My biggest fear has been losing endurance.  As a distance runner, maintaining endurance is what it’s all about.  If I can’t make it to 26.2 and beyond… I don’t want to run.  My physical ailments will heal.  I’ll adjust to the custom orthodics (thanks to my extremely flat feet).  I have maintained physical exercise through cycling, swimming, yoga and weight training.  That’s all fine, but in terms of endurance, nothing compares to a good 2-4 hour-long run.  So what have I been doing?  I’m bound and determined to bike for over 2 hours, approximately 30 miles, every time I go out.  There’s a lot more that goes into planning for a long bike ride.  For one, riding makes you very hungry.  You won’t burn as many calories as you would running, but for some reason, you need to fuel while you ride.  I can go out for long runs on an empty stomach, drinking only water and occasionally eating a GU (energy gel) for a little boost of energy.  Cycling, I need substance, real food, maybe even a sports drink.  The hunger only happens on a real ride, never on a stationary bike or during a spin class.  I think it has to do with brain function.  While riding on the roads or trails, you have to constantly be aware of your surroundings.  Traffic behind you, pot holes, roots, branches, pedestrians, etc…. Plus the fact, you’re locked into your bike.  It’s difficult to jump out of the way if needed, like you can when you’re on your feet, running.  While running, you can zone out in certain areas, listen to music, manuever your feet to prevent falling etc….  You just can’t do that cycling.  Therefore, I think your energy is dispersed differently.  The fuel is as much for your brain as it is your belly.  This morning I rode just over 32 miles.  I would have gone further, perhaps 15 more miles, but my stomach was growling and I had to be back for a business appointment.  I had a snack at mile 16, but it just wasn’t enough.  I had a banana and fun size pack of m & m’s, which is 165 calories total.  Got me through 10 miles fine, but my stomach was growling like crazy for the next 6 miles. 

Cycling Snack 165 calories
Cycling Snack 165 calories

I got back just in time for a protein packed lunch and enough time to prep for my appointment.  I made myself an egg white omelette, which is something I eat often, especially after an intense / long work out.  An omelette is a great way to get rid of leftovers, veggies so they won’t go bad, etc…  It’s also a filling meal for approximately 400 – 500 calories.  I use egg whites, because it’s easy and I’m trying to cut down on fat any way possible.  If I had made this on a regular day, not after a 2-3 hour cardio work out, I would eliminate the cheese, ham and toast with butter.  These items add a lot of unwanted calories and fat. 

Today’s Egg White Omelette – 500 calories

  • 1/3 cup of Egg whites
  • 2 thin slices of deli ham chopped
  • tbsp olive oil 
  • 2 cups of baby spinach
  • 1 cup chopped white mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup chopped Vidalia onion
  • 2 tsp parmesan cheese
  • salt, black pepper & cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 slice of french peasant bread toasted with 1 pat of unsalted butter
Today's egg white omelette
Today’s egg white omelette

Have you been injured and can’t participate in your favorite activity?  How do you compensate?  Are you an endurance junkie like me?  How do you make up the lost miles?  Let me know.  I’m an average person who loves running, cycling etc….  I’m always looking for new ideas and approaches….  Let’s get the conversation started….

Adjusting to the situation….

As mentioned in previous posts, I was supposed to run the Empire Marathon in Syracuse N.Y., on October 8th.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to.  I have a metatarsal (forefoot) stress fracture which had caused a strain in my hamstring. Therefore, it’s difficult to walk and sit.  The good thing is both injuries are not severe, so I will run again.  The bad thing is, I can’t run for 6 weeks!  What to do with myself?  That’s the big question.  I’ve had to adjust my exercise which is difficult because I’m so used to getting up and running out the door first thing in the morning.  The adjustment is more of a mental game than physical.  I have orders from my Sport’s Medicine Doctor to swim, bike, strength train and use the elliptical for as long and often as possible.  So that’s what I’m doing.  I feel everything happens for a reason.  Now is my time to get used to swimming lap’s.  I’ve been putting it off for too long, because I don’t like swimming in pools. I’m not a big fan of chlorine.  I swam at the YMCA this week and I actually liked it. I’d only swam in the evenings, outdoors over the summer.  I should have known I’d like swimming laps at 5:00 am. I love morning workouts in general.  Now I have no excuse not to participate in triathlon’s this coming summer.  I started with 1/4 mile, my goal is to be swimming 1 mile in 6 weeks.  Weight training has been difficult too.  I can’t go to the boot camp or HIIT classes that I love, because I can’t jump or do lunges.  Doing free weights and using the weight machines are boring to me, but I’m getting a pattern down and I have friends joining me, so it’s a little easier to get a good workout in for 1 hour 2 morning per week.  Eventually I’ll add yoga to the mix, but right now the only stretching I can do is what my physical therapists advises.  Luckily, my PT, is one of my running friends, who also does weight training and swimming with me.  She also has been rehabilitating a strained hamstring for close to 1 year now.  I will follow in her foot steps.  She’s getting ready to run an upcoming 15k race in November.  She’s ready!  

In every aspect of our lives, change is reality.  Even in exercise routines, nothing stays the same forever.  You’ve got to be able to change it up a bit.  The bottom line is to never stop moving.  Injuries happen, schedules change, etc…. simply, life gets in the way.  It’s really important to keep moving.  Eventually, everything falls in to place.  Don’t give up, don’t think of change as a regression.  Keep moving forward.  You may try something new and end up loving it.  

Have you had to adjust your exercise routine due to injury, new job, schedule change etc….  How did you handle it?  Did you try something new?  Let me know.  I need some suggestions….




Simple DIY….

I have so many DIY projects in the works right now.  I’ve been wanting to write about all of them, but due to hot humid temps, I’ve had a bit of a set back in terms of completion.  I like to redo my furniture projects outside.  Not happening when it’s 90 degrees out.  So I’ve taken on giving my daughter’s room a face lift.  At least I can turn the AC on and paint away.  

Like most of the rooms in my house they have an 80’s color scheme which consists of mauve with either a powder blue or mint green accent color.  Hideous!  Oh, and I must not forget that there’s only 2 rooms in my entire home that were not effected by some form of wallpaper!  I despise wallpaper.  I know it’s making a comeback, but I still hate it.  Anyhow, that’s just a personal preference.  Maybe it’s just me having flashbacks of my mom jumping on the wallpaper wagon of 1983 and me having to help her with the mauve and baby blue stripes and flower combination that plastered our living and dining room walls.  Ugh!  Anyhow, my daughters room has a border around the entire room and 2 walls completely covered with flowered wallpaper.  The good thing is, when the wallpaper was done, they did a great job.  That stuff is smooth and tight.  So rather that attempt to take it off I’m going to paint right over it.  I had a terrible time trying to take the wallpaper down in our dining  and living room.  I ended up causing more damage to the sheet rock, which forced me to bring in a professional to repair and paint.  It killed me, because I like to do my own painting.  In a tweens bedroom, I’m not too worried about the walls looking perfect.  If there’s  a slight bump or imperfection, a nice framed poster, bookshelf, mirror etc…. acts as a nice cover up.  

I asked my daughter what color she wanted to paint her room.  A blue or turquoise shade is what she was hoping for.  As a way to save money on paint, we went to the “mistake paint” shelf at LOWES and there were several shades of blue paint that were mistakes.  I had my daughter pick a color she liked.  This way I was able to get a $50 gallon of paint for $10.  The color she chose is more of a slate blue, which is nice and not extremely bright.  I can offset the color with a light gray/silver that I had left over from another room, which will look nice on the molding and ceiling.  Also on the mistake shelf was a $40 quart of lavender chalk paint that I bought for $8. Chalk paint is great.  It’s been around for years and can be used on any wooden surface without sanding or prep work at all.  I’ve redone a small bookcase with it and will paint my daughters closet door too. The lavender will be a nice pop of color.  All of the doors in the bedroom are the ugly hollow wood panel doors.  A coat of paint, change out the door knob and it will look great.  I haven’t forgotten about turquoise being my daughters favorite color.  I can incorporate turquoise in the curtains and bedding.  I believe it’s all going to come together quite nicely.  I can’t wait  to post follow-up pictures.

How are your DIY projects coming along?  Do you enjoy painting rooms?  How do you feel about wallpaper?  Do you have any money savings tips?  Let’s get the conversation started….


Getting Back to Basics….

Ok Friends, it happens to all of us!  That unwanted weight gain.  For me it usually ranges from 5 – 10 lbs, depending on the season.  Luckily I’m physically active all year.  But, basically, we are what we eat!  I’m in the middle of marathon training which means I’m burning a lot of calories during my work outs, but it’s important to eat the right kind of foods.  Summer is filled with vacations, travel, etc…  That’s all fun, but what goes along with that is….the curse of “Restaurant Food”!  For me, doesn’t matter how much I exercise, if I start eating anything other than plain salad topped with balsamic vinegar, at a restaurant…I’m going to gain weight.  The unwanted tire around my middle will form… So needless to say, after taking pleasure in some of my favorite restaurant junk foods (Fish Fry, Pizza, Chorizo Burritos, ice cream, etc…) throughout July & August, the tire is back!  Time to get back to basics…. 

I’m not blaming my children, but when they are home during the summer, it’s tough to not cheat here and there in the food department.  Not that my kids eat a lot of junk, but we tend to be in situations where there aren’t a lot of healthy options available.  It’s difficult to tote your own food around all the time.  So, going out for an ice cream cone is more of a common occurence than during the school year.  Long weekend vacations, always mean restaurants for at least 2 meals.   Vacation is vacation.  No food rules apply!  You order what you want.  Portion control, sodium, sugar, oils, cheese, cheese, cheese (did I say cheese) is out the window!  As long as you don’t beat yourself up over it and you remain physically active, you can get back to basics when the kids go back to school and you develop more of a schedule in terms of meals, snacks etc….  One item I make for myself is fast, easy and perfect for dinner or lunch.  Fish (usually salmon, haddock or red snapper) with brown rice, veggies and spices.  

Fish brown rice & veggies

  • Vacuum packed frozen fish fillet
  • 1 cup of cooked brown rice
  • Whatever vegetable you like
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Mixed spices
  • Olive oil ( 2 tbsp)

I used my cast iron skillet for baking.  Any kind of baking pan will work fine.  I also used the vacuum packed fish, because it’s portioned, easy to keep on hand, plus, I’m the only one in my family that likes fish.  Therefore, buying fresh fish on a regular basis is unrealistic.  I buy fresh on my birthday & grill it!  

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Cover your baking pan with olive oil.
  • Cover your baking pan with cooked brown rice
  • Add vegetables of choice ie; peppers, onions, mushrooms, carrots, tomatoes, spinach, parsley, basil etc…. Basically whatever you have on hand.
  • Thaw your vacuum packed fish under warm water.  Place on top of the rice and veggies.
  • Cover the fish with mixed spices (on both sides)
  • Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes

I’m not a huge fan of the scale, but I do step on it from time to time.  I decided to step on it September 1st.  My pants were feeling a little tight and my energy level wasn’t as high as usual.  I was feeling lethargic during my training runs.  I knew what was happening, so seeing the 10 lb weight gain was a real slap in the face!  But, it was the reality check I most definitely needed to get back to basics.  Thus far I’m down 4 lbs.  6 more to go before my marathon in October.  Marathon pictures are usually horrendous!  The last thing I need is the tire around my middle.  Even if I have an agonizing look on my face, I will share a marathon picture with hopes that the tire will be gone!  

Who else out there always gains weight during the summer?  Vacation?  Simply from bad food choices.  Who gains weight during marathon, triathlon, etc… training?  What’s your food plan?  How do you not deprive yourself from flavor?  Please share.  Let’s get the conversation started….  


Stress….Dealing with it….

Dr. Sarno
Dr. Sarno

Ahhh, stress!  Good and bad, we all have our own “shit” and we all approach and deal with it differently.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve always carried my stress in a particular body part and felt the physical pain.  For instance when I was a teenager, I would get extremely nervous the night before I had to pitch a softball game.  I wouldn’t be able to sleep and my neck and shoulders would hurt so much that I always thought I pulled a muscle or pinched a nerve.  My biggest fear was not being able to perform.  The thing is, as soon as it was game time, the pain was gone!  Your mind will play tricks on you.  Once you realize the pain is being caused by stress, worries, PTSD etc….  You need to talk your way through the problem and sure enough, the pain will be gone.  I am not ruling out legitimate medical diagnosis, but a lot of times, what’s going on in the inside reveals itself on the outside.  Muscle spasms, especially in the back, are caused by stress.  They hurt like hell, but you can get a handle on it without needing back surgery or the quick fix of medication.

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Leftovers….Fried Rice….

Homemade Fried Rice
Leftovers…Fried Rice…

Leftovers are different for everyone.  For me, I always have vegetables I want to get rid of and cooked brown rice.  So one meal I throw together often is Fried Rice.  So, my kids love steak.  Over the weekend we grilled steak and chicken.  We had plenty of both left over.  Because, I hate to waste, I constantly am trying to make new meals with whatever is left.  I asked the kids what kind of Fried Rice they wanted; Steak, Chicken or Egg.  They chose steak.  I won’t eat steak as a main meal, but I will in fried rice, because it’s cut up small and cooked very well done.  Almost crispy like beef jerky, which for me is tolerable….  Same goes for chicken.  The smaller the cut, the crispier and dried out it is.  To each their own, right?  If they chose egg, It’s simply a protein addition to the dish.  
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