How I learned to hydrate every day

Drinking fluids adequately and consistently has been a game-changer

Not experience. Not a new running bra. Not meth. The reason I’m running better now than I ever have is because I’ve finally learned to hydrate — and like it.

I’ve changed my water-drinking ways, and I’m certain that is what’s fueling my newfound energy during runs. I don’t have numbers or intake formulas (or a clinical certification, FYI), but here’s my water story.

Tasty waters taught me to hydrate

Meet my new best friends.

Hydration hang-up

I have always haaaaaated drinking water. Hate it-hate it. Only when I was well over the line of thirst would I ever actually welcome any water into my mouth. Not just water; drinking anything has always been secondary for me. I could go an entire meal and not sip one drink of anything. If I ever needed to fall asleep, I would simply imagine a glass of water from the faucet. Instant zzz’s.

When training for races, or just willy-nilly running in the Dallas heat, you kind of have to drink water. For past training runs, I’d bring a hand-held bottle or Camelbak of iced tap water, sometimes with a Nuun tablet. I’d drink — during my runs. I passively declared hydrating during a run, and whatever incidental water from fruit, my morning coffee, etc., to be enough. I never gave a second thought to hydration IRL.

Fast forward to this bout of training, for my first marathon. When I started on April 8, I was starting back up after the longest break  that I’d taken in a long time (besides one-off quick runs here and there). More than a year. I really feeling like I was at a deficit, and hot weather was already rearing its head. I felt behind, like a newbie. Maybe it was desperation, but I was ready to reassess my approach and find any sort of edge to help me feel in control of my performance. I didn’t know what that edge was yet, but I was open.

My husband is working on his kinesiology degree, and one day he mentioned a class discussion that I had never thought much about: Hydration around the clock, especially in the preceding days, is one of the most important aspects to a successful run. It just clicked.

Figuring out a solution

I had finally ID’d a big, missing component in my running. But the solution couldn’t be simply “drink more water.” Knowing that I needed to hydrate all day didn’t mean I’d magically like it. But I had to find a way to give this new discipline a chance to take root. To succeed, I was going to have to find a way to like the thing I hated.

You gotta hydrate

This used to be my insides.

I started with asking myself why I disliked water so badly in the first place. It ended up that it was really the taste and feel of tap water that I hated. I like bottled water just fine. Why? The water inside is purified and distilled. It’s got nice mouthfeel. But I’m too cheap to spring for a big dispenser/cooler, and I’m not going to continuously buy a gob of, like, 16 ounce bottles every time I go to the store. I wanted the nice-mouthfeel water, but I didn’t want to pay for it.

It dawned on me that if I boiled a bunch of water on the stove in a pot or tea kettle and let it cool, that might be the same thing. Right? Wouldn’t you know it — it sure was. That basically gave me actual, you know, water. Regular old God-made water. No metal or chemical taste. It felt soft in my mouth, not “rough.” I felt kind of stupid for just then realizing that that’s what boiling water does, but it was a significant revelation for me.

I also have a weird thing about putting hot water (especially just-boiled) into plastic. It just makes me feel like ingesting hot liquid steeped in plastic might make me wake up with three arms one day. But I needed receptacles to hold all this boiled H2O. I went to Home Goods and bought two medium-sized glass pitcher-bottle hybrids. After the water cooled, I poured it into one one of the pitchers. That’s the sealed pitcher I keep on the counter; I don’t like cold water unless I’m hot. This gives me a pitcher of fresh, easily-visible and accessible, room-temperature water.

In the past I had seen on recipes on Pinterest for, say, sticking sprigs of mint in your water, or star anise, or every imaginable combination of fruit, herb and even vegetables. Surely there’s a parody account somewhere that shows how to jazz up your water with twigs, leaves, an entire ham, cocaine. Anyway, the pictures of infused and detox waters were intriguing enough to file away in my brain’s “good to know” section, and now I was in need of that inspiration. I normally dislike lemon in my water — sour water, how delicious — but the pins that suggested pairing lemon and cucumber together always seemed right on. I sliced up a handful of both, put them into the other glass pitcher, and filled it up with the rest of the cooled, boiled water over it.

I had found my personal formula. I actually wanted these waters. The pure, fresh, no-fuss water on the counter and the bottle of chilled, lightly-infused water were the solutions to my hydration problem.

Hydration reformation

I can’t get enough of these waters. Now I just grab a glass of whichever one I’m in the mood for every time I wander into the kitchen. It took finding a way to actually like hydrating well every day to actually do it.

  • Now I like starting my day with a glass of water. In the past, drinking a glass of water in the morning would have been nauseating.
  • I sometimes take a lidded mason jar full of infused water to work. I keep it in the breakroom fridge until I’m ready to drink it.
  • I drink a full glass when I get home from work, then again with dinner, then later before bed.
  • I also splurge on bottles of Vitamin Water Zero (orange and lemonade are my favorite) at the store, especially when they’re 10 for $10. I take one to work almost every day, too.
  • At work, I now fill up my glass two-thirds of the way with cold water cooler water, then add a dash of hot dispenser water to bring it up to room temp.
  • With the infused water: No squeezing of the lemon; just gentle placing. Unless you like sour water; I do not. Sometimes, I’ll just do cucumber. Since that pitcher contains produce, it goes in the fridge. Even though I don’t care for chilled water, normally, my brain makes an exception since there’s actual food sitting in it.
  • I don’t count the number of ounces I intake. I’m tracking calorie intake, mileage — I have enough things to track right now. I just know that I’m drinking way more water during my non-running hours than I used to, especially the day before a run. I don’t worry about drinking too much because I’m confident my fluid intake hasn’t increased that much.
  • I’m a late bloomer. I realized the connection between pre-hydration and performance way back in 2010 — remember when you could write two sentences and call it a blog post? — but it’s just now hooking me.


I only have my anecdotal experience to report. But I can guarantee you, now I only long-run bonk when I’ve hydrated poorly in the previous 24 to 48 hours. I’ve gotten lazy a few days here and there, and I can definitely tell a difference during runs that followed. I’ve gotten to where I can feel it deep in my skin and my muscles that my body isn’t hydrated. I never had anything to compare that feeling with before because I used to always live life in a constant state of lack. Parched was my body’s normal.

Nothing I discovered was earth-shattering. Drinking pure water, room temperature water, drinking infused water — the solutions were simple. But to arrive there, I first had to analyze why I hated doing this one thing that all runners really need to do. Finally beating my hate of water, even with just homemade workarounds, has felt like a minor breakthrough.

The mistakes of a failed North Dallas run

Last Thursday evening’s 12-mile run turned into a 10.73-mile bonk-fest, with my husband picking me up early in the Chip’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers parking lot on Lovers. I partly blame the city of Dallas, but I mostly blame my own amateur-hour mistakes.

I’d love for you to learn from my lack of planning that led up to last week’s super-bad marathon training long run. But first I’m going to rag on North Dallas urban planning first.

Thanks a lot, nice Dallas neighborhood with no sidewalks

Devonshire neighborhood in Dallas

The neighborhood in question.

I previously wrote about how evening runners like myself run into darkness issues as summer gets closer to fall. That happened last Thursday. As I ran through the Devonshire neighborhood off Inwood, I marveled at the beautiful homes and the generally rich milieu. I hadn’t encountered that particular ‘hood before, and I loved it. There was something different about it. I checked my Redfin app to get a gauge on home prices in the area (breaking: they’re slightly out of my price range).

I was enjoying myself. As it grew dark, I was even charmed by how dark as ink everything got. These people don’t believe in street lights. Then, like black magic, sidewalks began to disappear. No light, no sidewalk. Sometimes when it gets dark, I’ll turn my iPhone’s flashlight on to light my way, but I was almost out of battery (I started out with 100%, so battery life is something I need to figure out for the rest of my training).

At least the street was in great condition: level and smooth as butter. I can do this OH MY GOSH WAS THAT A POTHOLE THAT ALMOST SWALLOWED MY ANKLE? 

I approached Northwest Highway and turned east. It was going to be my last stretch. Northwest Highway is a major thoroughfare; since when does Northwest Highway not have sidewalks? If I turned around, I’d have to repeat at least 2 miles, and I was seriously almost out of battery. I had already texted Brian to meet me at a certain spot.

Doctor Who stumbling while running


While in the dark, jiggity-jogging and high-stepping on the grass and along guardrails, trying not to turn a foot or tear an ACL, that was it: I rammed my foot on a jacked-up bit of concrete sticking out of the ground, and I almost lost my life to eastbound Northwest Highway traffic. I walked until I reached a residential street with a sidewalk, and carefully at that.

Why are there major areas of a large “world class” city that simply don’t accommodate pedestrians? In 2014?

I wasn’t going to make the original destination point at the time I told Brian to pick me up. With the last phone juice I had, I texted him to meet me at Chip’s in 15 minutes. Not only was I in the dark and trying to Lewis-and-Clark my way alongside nighttime traffic, I was seriously, seriously drained.

So besides parts of North Dallas just being a sucky place to run …

My mistakes


  • I had spent the night with my parents a couple of days prior. When I get around family, no matter the occasion, I treat it like it’s the holidays and eat like crap. We’re talking Wingstop and ice cream. Bad stuff.
  • I had been good about hydration, which I would name as the No. 1 factor in increased energy for my runs during this bout of training. I have a water “routine” (blog post on that later) that I put on pause last week. I simply didn’t hydrate very well at all. Even though on the run-proper I chugged water, then orange juice, and even though I consumed an adequate amount of energy gel, I could still feel my body not having the deep-down reserve that it needed. Seriously, the closest to hydration I got last week was the water inside the milk inside the ice cream I ate.
  • My husband always reminds me that it’s getting darker sooner. I always say “I know.” But I still started a 12-mile run at 6 p.m., which, for my pace, just isn’t enough time to finish before I’m literally running in pitch.Running adventure
  • I love to run in unfamiliar territory. But that need for adventure during a run can lead to serious inconvenience and, when it’s dark, safety issues. I have to plan the location of my runs better, where I know there will be adequate sidewalks. Soon I’ll have to save the long runs for weekend days, anyway, so that will help.

Keeping yourself safe from both injury and night-cloaked crime is no joke when running the streets as summer gives way to shorter days. Take care out there, and plan well.

Dallas bodies have to re-learn how to run in the heat

Dallas temperature

Dallas’ temperature right now …

I’ve lived in Texas my whole life, except for a four-year span in the Philippines as a small child. So I haven’t run in many other places except Texas. When traveling, I do so much walking and hiking that I always feel fine taking a break from whatever running routine I’m on.

That means I really only know what it’s like to take a summer run while having to take purposeful precautions and dialing down performance expectations. That’s just the way it is here.

But Dallas isn’t hot year-round, so our bodies have to reacclimatize each summer. After so many years of having to do so, we Dallas runners know what we have to do, even if our bodies have forgotten and need time to catch up.

The accessories of a summer run

San Francisco temperature

… compared with San Fransisco’s temperature …

Unless you’re running where you know there will be water fountains and, if you’re lucky, water misters, you have to carry hydration. Maybe not for a run of, say, 2 miles or less. But even if you run in the early morning or late-at-night hours, and especially if you run in the middle of the day, you’re suicidal if you don’t haul water.

My current water bottle is the Nathan QuickDraw Plus Insulated hydrator. It keeps fluid colder longer, and it’s the best handheld I’ve ever had. The attached zippered pocket is roomy, too; enough room for a house key, credit card, energy gel and, if you don’t like carrying your phone, an iPhone (take off the bulky OtterBox, though). I fill up that bad boy with ice and water for sipping and — this is important — drizzling over my head and face along the way.

If I’m doing a longer run in the heat — for me, “longer” means anything over 5ish miles — my hydration plan needs either a Plan B or Part B, because I’m going to run out of water before the run is done.

New York City temperature

… compared with New York City’s …

Part B is:
• pausing my RunKeeper
• popping into a gas station
• filling up my handheld with ice at the fountain drink station
• stinking up the place as I wait in line to pay for a Gatorade G2, Vitaminwater Zero or a plain bottle of water
• standing outside next to the trashcan as I pour what will fit into my handheld and quickly drink the rest
• endure stares from gas-pumpers who apparently have never seen a sweaty runner at a gas station before
• restart my RunKeeper and start back out on my run.

It’s a huge break from running that my body isn’t supposed to get, but what do you do.

Plan B is to strap on my Camelbak instead of taking my handheld. It’s the same Camelbak I’ve had for years and works great. It holds lots and lots of fluid. But hauling that much weight is a commitment and a total bog-down. And if the run is going to be especially long and it’s going to be especially hot out, I’ll want the ability to drizzle water over my head. Can’t do that with the Camelback. So I end up taking the Camelbak and the handheld. Plan B is cumbersome, but it’s the best option if I think my route won’t produce a gas station at a point when I’d need it.

The “when” dilemma

Salt Lake City, Utah temperature

… compared with Salt Lake City’s …

Most Dallas runners I know do their summer runs (most of their runs, actually) in the early morning, before work and sometimes even before that mean ol’ sun comes up. So for perky, motivated types, “when” isn’t a dilemma.

I’m not one of those types, and from the number of runners I see out in the evenings, maybe plenty of other Dallasites aren’t, either. We would rather endure a day that’s been baking for six hours and catch the sun as it’s going down. But on long-run days that collide with busy work days, this can pose a problem.

I’ll tell myself, Hey Christy; you have an 8-miler this evening. Make sure you get off of work in time so you’re not running in the dark. But then my workday LOLs at me and I get off at 7, still need to drive back home to change, then try to outrun the sun.

If it’s on an evening when my husband is at work, I’ll run to his workplace (6.5 miles away, but I can stretch out the mileage by curving my route outward however far I need) and catch a ride back.

The other evening when I ran to Brian’s work, I was hit with all the factors of my typical summer-running “when” dilemma. I got such a late start on my 8-mile run, and I knew he got off work at 9:15 p.m. So not only was I trying not to run in sketchy areas at pitch-night, I was trying to make sure he didn’t have to wait on me in his workplace parking lot any later than he had to.

Birmingham, Alabama temperature

… compared with Birmingham, Alabama’s …

I was feeling guilty (even though my husband always really supportive), so I ran way faster than I normally would for that distance and it was hotter and more humid than a son of a gun and I was hyper-focusing on what streets I was turning on after the sun went down.

I committed the act of texting-while-running to let him know I’d be a bit late. I gunned it. Experience had taught me better than hauling rear in the heat, but I told myself that approaching darkness is always good on a run. Running faster is good, right? Plus, I had cut short other longish runs in the past few weeks because of one excuse or another, and I wasn’t going to do that this time.

I made it in decent time, Brian drove me home, I showered, and we cooked spelt spaghetti.

While we finished cooking, a wave of weakness and sickness struck me in the kitchen. I felt nauseated. A little confused.

Carson City, Nevada, temperature

… even compared with Carson City, Nevada’s. See? It’s hot here.

I shoved some spelt pretzels in my mouth (it was a spelt kind of night), thinking that my body just needed something now. It helped, but the weakness and wooziness didn’t subside for hours.

I knew I had done my day all wrong: a) long run b) on a hot night c) while trying to gun it faster than was smart d) after a day of not eating very smartly. For the rest of the evening I dealt with what I’m pretty sure was some sort of delayed onset heat exhaustion.

The morning hours are more forgiving. But I hate mornings. So I run in the hotter evenings. But that leaves me with smaller margins of error on safety and health.

These summer-in-Dallas curveballs are not a surprise every year. But Dallas is where I live, so I just try to catch those hot pitches the best I can.

Who supports you? That’s your running team

Back in 2000 I watched the movie The Contender, about a female senator being blocked from the vice presidency because of personal attacks based on potential sexual indiscretions in college. The Oscar-nominated performances of Joan Allen as Sen. Laine Billings Hanson and Jeff Bridges as President Jackson Evans were great. But it was a scene at the end, during a stirring speech by President Evans, that made me realize what kind of husband I wanted to have one day. Not President Evans, but a lesser character: Sen. Hanson’s husband.

The Contender with Joan Allen, with support from her husbandThe speech scene is interspersed with frames of Sen. Hanson on a run in a cemetery with a car slowly driving alongside her. Her husband is using the car to help her keep pace. During her run, she’s listening to the president’s powerful speech, which he’s delivering to Congress lauding her character, her choices, and her service to the country. Her husband had rolled down the window of the car so she could listen to the speech on the radio while she ran.

My husband and support, Brian

Brian, on a roadtrip to Fredericksburg, Texas, earlier this year

I thought to myself, What a man. One day, I want a husband like that.

Fast-forward several years later, while dating my now-husband, Brian. I hounded him incessantly to run with me. Not just run with me, but to transform into the exact kind of runner I was. He’d go on runs with me occasionally, yes, but I wanted him to like it, crave it. Like I did.

It took me a few years, but I finally realized that my need was borderline co-dependent, so I began focusing on me as an individual runner instead of trying to force us to be some intense version of a couple who runs together: attached at the hip during our first marathon, traveling to races together, sharing dirty, trail-y running adventures.

By letting go of that vision for us, I was able to realize I had the kind of husband I whispered to myself about back in 2000:

My husband and support, Brian

Brian, in the gym

    • I hate out-and-backs. For instance, I’m about to take off from my apartment in North Oak Cliff for a 10-mile run in a few minutes. I am literally able to take off in any direction and Brian will drive to wherever I land to pick me up when I call. As he drives me home, he’ll ask me what I saw on my run. Ask me how it went, if I had to stop, how many times and where. He’ll ask if I remembered to stop my RunKeeper.
    • When he knows I’m headed out on a run, he’ll make my water bottle for me. He’ll ask if he should tuck energy chews or a Nuun tablet in the bottle’s zipper pouch for this particular run.
    • When I’m disappointed at the number of runs I’ve skipped or cut short lately, he tells me how strong I am. He’ll encourage me to get back on schedule.
My husband and support, Brian

Me with my No. 1 pillar and cheerleader, spring 2013

  • He reminds me to blog, retweets my Dallas Runaround tweets. When I double-post my Runkeeper activities to Facebook or Twitter (yes, I’m one of those), I can always count on a favorite or a “My wife’s a beast!” comment.
  • For each and every race, I can count on Brian seeing me off at the start and being at the finish line.

It ends up sports bras aren’t the only support this woman needs to be a successful runner. I always viewed running as an individual, solitary act. Now I see that, for runners who are blessed, it’s a team sport.

Thank you for being my William Hanson, Brian.

Celebrate a more runnable Dallas at Trinity River Revel

Trinity River basin in Dallas, Texas

This part of the basin is south of where the events will take place. But still, isn’t she pretty?

In downtown Dallas, discussion of the Trinity River is the thing. You’re either for the city’s Corridor Project or hate the tollroad or love running the levee. Lots of focus, both fun and political.

I didn’t think I could love that basin any more, then I heard about the Trinity River Revel on June 15. It’s going to be a big ol’ day-long party and rolling ribbon cutting for four — four — new amenities to the area that make my runner’s bone tingle: the Continental Avenue Pedestrian Bridge, the Trinity Skyline Trail, the West Dallas Gateway Plaza, and the Sylvan Avenue Bridge.

The shindig will include a 5K (register here), a bunch of creative stuff for the kids, a gospel brunch, beer garden, a market, car show, food trucks, a driving range, and my personal favorite, a 1930s dance-off (with pros to teach you!). I also love this event because I learned something new just by visiting its website: there will also be a pachanga, which Trinity folks say is a “is a Tejano tradition, a festive party at which citizens socialize with politicians in a casual setting.”

It looks like organizers are encouraging everyone to take Uber, DART and bikes to get there (here’s the event’s map, parking, directions, bike rental info etc.). Parking is just … well, downtown Dallas is no downtown Fort Worth when it comes to parking. But there will be some. Maybe one day we’ll throw a party called Free Parking Palooza when that perennial problem is fixed.

The bad thing about the Revel? It’s on Father’s Day, so I won’t be able to make it. I’ll be following the fun on Instagram and Twitter, however (#trinityriverrevel, perhaps?).

Also interesting is this recent Dallas Morning News guest column about the city’s Trinity project. The writer, architect and former project supporter Larry Good, cites all the reasons I love the managed roughness the basin has grown into:
After 10 years, I’ve dropped my support of the Trinity Tollway

Places to Run in Dallas: White Rock Lake

• This is the first installment in my Places to Run roundup, which will be a resource for the best spots to run in Dallas, what those spots offer, how to get there, where to park, what to watch out for, and where to grab a Gatorade or emergency donut nearby.



A former Dallas Morning News editor once told me that his wife woke up one Saturday morning and declared, “I want us to run around White Rock Lake.” He replied, “Why would we want to do that?” She won, and that day they became runners and, eventually, marathoners. White Rock is where many Dallasites work out their dream of running their first half, and it’s where seasoned runners stay that way by conquering the loop again and again.

Location: About 6-ish miles northeast of downtown Dallas in Lakewood

Distance: Depending on which forks and particular meanderings you take, the loop can total up to 10 miles.

White Rock Lake

White Rock Lake at dusk

Where to park: Lots of spots, but here are my 4 favorites —

1. South side of the lake: The lot on Winsted off Garland Road, next to the spillway
2. South side: If you turn onto East Lawther Drive from Garland Road, just south of the Dallas Arboretum, you can park all along the lake’s edge or at various lots further north up Lawther.
3. Southeast side: Turn onto Emerald Isle Drive off Garland Road, just north of the Dallas Arboretum. That will lead you to a variety of parking spots, including Winfrey Point (and one of the most spectacular views in the city).
4. North side: I don’t park on the north side of the lake very often, but when I do, it’s at East Mockingbird Lane and West Lawther Road.

Terrain: There is plenty of green space, but you’ll be running almost exclusively on pavement. Few inclines. You could make use of isolated hills, like Winfrey Point‘s, if you need that.

Look for:

  • The Free Advice guys, who regularly chill out on the northwest side of the lake, near the fishing pier
  • Lots and lots and lots of cyclists and lethally-long dog leashes

Useful spots around the lake:

  • Hypnotic Donuts. If weird donuts are your thing. Southeast of the lake.
  • Barbec’s. One of the best diners in Dallas, and they won’t even mind you coming in all sweaty. Southeast, next to Hypnotic Donuts.
  • Richardson Bike Mart. Get gels and other specialized fuel that you forgot here. Kind of across the street from Barbec’s and Hypnotic.
  • QuickTrip. QT to those of us who love this gas station/convenience store chain. Southern tip of the lake.
  • White Rock Coffee. Adorable place north of the lake with great java. Northeast of the lake.
  • White Rock Dog Park. I see so many dogs and their people having a good time here. FYI: There’s a swimming area for the dogs, so bring a towel. Northern tip of the lake. *UPDATE: The dog park is closed through 2014.

Related info:

Photos on Instagram

That Carrot fitness app sure has a smart mouth

Carrot Fit app
While walking to my Jefferson Viaduct launch spot a couple of weeks ago, my phone dinged its familiar notification ding. I looked down, and it was from the Carrot app I had downloaded recently — giving me major attitude: “You’re going to step on that scale, and you’re going to like it.”

Carrot isn’t a running app, but it will shame you into running just a bit harder. And by “shame” I really mean that it will keep you aware of your fitness goals while giving you a severe amount of lip.

The judgy Carrot universe is growing fast, apparently; what I downloaded not long ago was just the “Carrot” app: I tap in my weight goal, then log my regular weigh-ins at the behest of rude iPhone notification reminders like “Time to get on the scale, meatbag.” Now what’s on my iPhone is Carrot Fit. There’s a separate app for purchase called Carrot To-Do (along with something called Carrot Alarm), which also helps you stay on top of your goals while cracking you up.

Carrot appCarrot Fit now offers workout plans and even a workout costume for your fat lil’ avatar ($0.99) through in-app purchases. You get a few workouts for free, and you can purchase a booster pack for $1.99. If you quit on a workout, get ready to be judged.

My favorite part? If you tap your fat lil’ avatar, it sends a bolt of electricity to smoke her to death. Unexpected and hilariously grisly. You can do it over and over again, and the app will judge you with increasing indignation.

Usefulness? At first I downloaded it as a simple weight tracker that gave me giggles. Now I’ll have to try out a couple of the workouts and see if Carrot Fit is just funny or funny-serious.

Update: A few days after I wrote this, I ran across a DailyDot tweet that made me a) think of Carrot Fit and b) roll my eyes. Maybe the jokey-faux-shaming is rough on folks with eating disorders? I don’t get it. It seems like fat-embracing, not fat-shaming.

Running fuel: Almond flour cacao-chip cookie recipe

Ingredients for almond flour cacao cookies

All the ingredients you’ll need.

Whole Pantry iPhone app

A glimpse of the Whole pantry app

I got on a healthy-eating kick for New Year’s. Many people do, but it was the first time for me. Two of the best things I discovered in the process were almond flour and coconut oil.

I download a few healthy-eating recipe apps (especially Whole Pantry) and conditioned my tastebuds to find unsugared foods (that are usually made with sugar) delicious. I’m not on that level of kick any more, but I did lose 8 pounds tracking my calories with MyFitnessPal and righted my consumption perspective by trying new, healthier cooking and baking methods.

My favorite recipe out of the experiment is a wonderfully natural cookie made from almond meal, coconut oil and cacao chips. Basically, a chocolate chip cookie for people who don’t want to die from Bad Eating.

I bake them, keep them in storage bowl on the counter, and eat as a night snack or on-the-go breakfast, or I take a couple to work for fuel before a run. They’re soft, delicious,  just a hint sweet and filled with satiating, healthy fat.

Unbaked almond flour cacao-chip cookies

Combine, roll, flatten, put on a baking pan.


  • 1-1/2 cup almond meal
  • 2-1/2 Tbsp. melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs (or flaxseed or crushed nuts)
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • (Optional) 1 Tbsp. cacao powder (or cocoa)

Make them

  • Preheat oven to 340 degrees F., then combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  • Roll into balls and place evenly around a cookie sheet. Slightly flatten each ball with the palm of your hand.
  • Bake anywhere between 12 and 15 minutes, depending on how soft or crispy you like your cookies.
Almond flour cacao-chip cookies

I accidentally let this batch bake for a couple of minutes longer than I usually like. But know what? They STILL ended up delicious.


  • Originally found on the Whole Pantry app (iPhone and iPad, $2.99)
  • Recipe calls for melted coconut oil. I made it this time with virgin coconut oil, but I recommend extra virgin, which has a more neutral taste.
  • Recipe calls for maple syrup; I use Log Cabin Lite.
  • Recipe calls for cacao nibs. I’ve incorporated that before; they’re healthy, nutty and taste like raw, dark chocolate. I left them out this time and used organic raw flaxseed, and I’ve also substituted pecan chips or crushed walnuts. All are yummy and nutritious. Note: I’ve tried regular chocolate chips, like Nestle. Regular chocolate chips, almond flour and coconut oil together as a cookie is so rich that it’s unpleasant.
  • Calls for (optional) cacao powder to make them extra cocoa-y, but I used good old-fashioned Hershey’s cocoa powder.
  • Gluten-free, egg-free, vegan, paleo.


I did the math myself, but warning: I’m a journalist. I think 1 cookie equals:

  • 80 calories
  • 7 grams fat
  • 1 gram fiber
  • 2 grams protein

Who bought Vibram FiveFingers for the health claims?

The rubbered, uncomfortable tale of Vibram FiveFingers comes to a close.

Vibram FiveFingersThe maker of the funny minimalist shoe is settling a class action lawsuit brought on a couple of years ago over claims that the shoe decreased injuries and strengthened the foot. Ends up that you’ve got to have scientific backup for claims like that if you’re using them to sell stuff. There’s a lot of reporting on the matter, namely Washington Post, Runner’s World, and, where I first learned about the announcement, 0n The Dallas Morning News‘ Health Blog.

Way back in October 2009, I blogged about receiving a pair of the digit-y foot coverings. I said in the post that I’d report back on my thoughts after giving them a go, am I’m just now realizing that I never did. I’m trying to remember why. I think that I tried them, hated them, tried to find redeeming qualities about them. I likely decided to let some time pass and allow a few more tries help me discover a reason not to completely pan them. Then next thing I knew, this particular personal assignment simply slipped through my fingers. Now, years later, here’s what I remember.

I was excited about the barefoot and minimalist shoe thing enveloping running culture. I tried barefoot running and wrote about the phenomenon, and I decided that I loved the idea of it more than the practice. Also, that book Born to Run had recently come out. It set the running world on fire for a time and further fueled interest. The Tarahumara Indians are beastmode personified, and we were all right to be inspired by their story.

I tried the FiveFingers. Well, first I had to successfully cram each and every little bitty toe into its corresponding toe pocket. That was my first clue: If I can’t quickly throw on whatever it is I’m wearing for a run, you’ve lost me.

I went running in them. It’s easy to see how a runner would think the shoes aided in muscle strengthening. A day later, my calves screamed at me. But they screamed at me a day after my first try at barefoot running, too. It wasn’t the shoes themselves delivering that benefit; they were simply along for the ride while I tried running in a way my body had yet to become conditioned.

I even went out socially in them. Later they became something of a symbol of slight douchebaggery, but they hadn’t just yet. They were still a curiosity in 2009, and I enjoyed the stares they received.

Have you ever worn a pair of socks with toes in them? At first they seem fun, even cute. Then you wear them around the house and think, This is one of the most bizarre-feeling, uncomfortable things I’ve ever done to my feet. This totally blows. Bottom line, that’s what FiveFingers felt like on. I couldn’t ever get used to feeling each of my toes cradled in its own lonely compartment.

Basically, you had to already love barefoot running itself to care for wearing FiveFingers. For all practical purposes, it mimicked being barefoot but offered a layer of protection against gravel, stickers, gum and other scary detritus. That was the real value they offered. I ended up appreciating how the shoe influenced major shoemakers to offer lighter, pared-down options. I’ve bought just one pair of heavy, cushioned and overly structured shoes since then, and the rest have been fairly minimal. The lighter shoes have performed well in a variety of activities.

I don’t know of anyone who owned a pair of FiveFingers who thought they would give them health benefits. If foot strengthening and injury avoidance were their motivation, it was the barefoot/minimalist running aspect they believed would deliver, not the Vibram FiveFingers.

Still, I appreciate that a company isn’t allowed to use empty claims to play a huckster game. Be straight-up with your fellow human beings. “If you like barefoot running, you’ll enjoy our minimal FiveFinger foot coverings even more” would have done just fine for the target audience.

One thing I’m not going to miss is forcing all 10 individual toes into 10 individual, teeny weeny rubbery spaces.



CrossFit’s Pukie the Clown: Your symbols signal what you value

CrossFit's Pukie the Clown and Uncle Rhabdo

Pukie the Clown (via and Uncle Rhabdo.

I’m one of the humans behind The Dallas Morning News Facebook page, and I posted a Washington Post story we ran that criticizes CrossFit’s … intensity:

It’s getting a great mix of response the comments, some testifying to their individual CrossFit gym and coaches’ legitimacy and skill, some criticizing the entire CrossFit culture and short-sightedness of extreme workouts. One comment is standing out for me: Chuck Swain’s, whose profile says he’s the owner/head coach at CrossFit Fervor in Mansfield, Texas.

Started CrossFit several years ago as an obese executive. Is it intense? Yep. But intensity is in essence the secret sauce. Have I ever met PUKIE? Yep. Fight gone bad September of 2011. But, I have never been seriously hurt. I have been able to reverse illnesses that docs would medicate symptoms. I turn 49 in less than a week and this year I completed my first UltraMarathon, ran The Great Bull run last month in Ennis. Bottom line: it works if you work it. If you have found a crappy CF coach leave there are plenty of good ones. That is my .02 worth.

Talk about intensity. That’s a really intense transformation, going from obese to an ultra runner. I’m drawn to that. I don’t say it out loud/write it too often, but my ultimate fitness goal is to complete an ultra, preferably trail. I draw inspiration from Chuck, who attained that very same goal with more hurdles hindering his journey than mine.

I also have been curious about CrossFit lately. I know; it’s pratically old at this point. Even though sweaty-warehouse/throwing-stuff-around-type of workouts excite me, for the longest there was never anything about CrossFit that made me want to join one. Then I took a look at membership costs and realized I really didn’t want to join one.

So why now am I all of a sudden getting the itch? Maybe it’s because I know more people now who are part of a CrossFit gym and say they absolutely love it. Maybe it’s because, when I lived in Deep Ellum from 2011 to 2013 and would run around the neighborhood, I’d run by the open-air CrossFit Deep Ellum gym and see men and women of various fitness levels discomforting their usually comfortable lives, and I realized that I needed that, too.

Except I really don’t know why spaz-out (and just gross) cartoon mascots are needed in order to encourage and celebrate physical “intensity.” I don’t necessarily feel as strongly about it as another commenter, Carrie Journell:

You’ve got to be a special kind of stupid to participate in a workout that has mascots like Uncle Rhibo and Pukie the Clown.

[Pretty sure she meant "Uncle Rhabdo."] I doubt few people at any CrossFit see the puking of Pukie the Clown and kidney failure of Uncle Rhabdo as fitness ideals; I get it. Intense, shared experiences can create hyperbolic/extreme/over-the-top symbols that signal a specific camaraderie. But these two “symbols” make CrossFit’s culture seem like adolescent amateur hour. Like it’s adherents are just now discovering the concept of pushing their limits but haven’t quite matured into respecting them yet.

I doubt that’s how most CrossFit athletes actually are. At least not the ones I know. Which means that as symbols, Pukie and Rhabdo are ridiculously ill-fitting.