Friday, March 30, 2012

Crazy for Coconut Week: Recipe II & III (Granola & Protein Bars)

Granola has recently become one of my favorite snacks. It's perfect as a topping to yogurt or just munching on by itself. And I love how the house smells as it bakes until golden. I've been experimenting with adding different dried fruits, nuts, seeds, etc. to it and you really can't go wrong with whatever you have on hand. So as a part of Crazy for Coconut week, here are some coconut granola recipes for you to try:

Coconut Granola
Makes 4 servings
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp. canola oil
2 1/2 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. coconut extract, or vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
1/2 cup shredded coconut

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and coat baking sheet with cooking spray.
2. Whisk together canola oil, honey, brown sugar, and coconut extract. Continue whisking until ingredients are combined.
3. Add oats to the honey mixture. 
4. Spread mixture evenly onto baking sheet.
5. Bake for about 12 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until golden.
6. Stir in coconut.

Protein Granola Bars
Recipe adapted from My New Roots blog

My hemp protein granola

You can use this recipe to make either protein bars or granola with slight variations. 

Main Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup almonds, chopped
1 1/2 cups raisins + Craisin mix (or any dried fruit)
1 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup hemp protein powder
1/2 cup sesame seeds
Chocolate chips (optional) - stir in as many as you want
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt

Option 1: Protein Bars
      Use ingredients above, plus:
3 ripe bananas 
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. maple syrup

Option 2: Granola
      Use ingredients above, plus:
3/4 cup applesauce
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. maple syrup


Option 1: Protein Bars
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
  3. In a food processor or blender, mix bananas, oil, vanilla, and maple syrup (or mash everything together with a fork). 
  4. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
  5. Spread the batter evenly into a baking pan (9'' x 11''), and smooth out the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until edges are golden. Let cool completely and store in airtight container in refrigerator. Or these can be frozen.

Option 2: Granola
  1. Follow steps 1-2 above.
  2. Mix together applesauce, oil, vanilla extract, and maple syrup.
  3. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients.
  4. Spread batter evenly into baking pan and smooth out top. Bake for 20 minutes (or until starting to golden), stirring halfway through.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Crazy for Coconut: Recipe II (Coconut Shrimp)

My dad is an excellent cook - one of those who can pull any random ingredient from the refrigerator and make a gourmet meal of the top of his head. So when I first started experimenting in the kitchen years ago, I was a little bit intimidated, thinking that all chefs had this magical knowledge.

My mom helped me overcome this fear by finding healthy, easy recipes to begin trying out my culinary skills with. One of my first recipes was from the March 2008 issue of Southern Living - and I still have it today, with changes scribbled on it over the years and notes about good, complimentary side dishes.

The recipe: A healthy version of coconut shrimp. Sounds contradictory, doesn't it? Usually coconut shrimp is one of those fried meals you splurge on during your beach vacation. But this recipe maintains all the flavor for a lot less calories and fat... and it's relatively easy to make, so enjoy!

Coconut Shrimp with Honey-Mustard Sauce

John displaying the dinner table in our apartment

Coconut shrimp, grilled pineapple, green beans, and vegetable cous cous
Coconut Shrimp Ingredients
Serves 4

1 1/2 lb. unpeeled, large raw shrimp
Vegetable cooking spray
2 egg whites
1/2 cup corn starch
2 Tbsp. Caribbean jerk seasoning
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 tsp. paprika

Option 1 (Southern Living version)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel shrimp, leaving tails on; devein.
  2. Place a wire rack coated with cooking spray in a 15 x 10 inch jelly-roll pan.
  3. Whisk egg whites just until foamy.
  4. Stir together cornstarch and jerk seasoning in a shallow dish. Stir together coconut, panko, and paprika in another shallow dish.
  5. Dredge shrimp, one at a time, in cornstarch mixture; dip in egg whites, and dredge in coconut mixture, pressing gently with fingers. 
  6. Lightly coat shrimp on each side with cooking spray; arrange shrimp on wire rack.
  7. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink, turning once after 8 minutes.

Option 2 (my version)
  1. Follow steps 1 (omitting preheating oven) and 3 - 5 above.
  2. Spear shrimp through skewers and grill for about 12 minutes, turning halfway through.

Honey-Mustard Sauce
Serves 10

1/2 cup plain yogurt (optional - I omitted this)
1/4 cup coarse-grained mustard
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp. horseradish 

Stir together all ingredients. Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to 3 days.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Crazy for Coconut Week: Recipe I (Quinoa cereal)

Start your day island inspired with quinoa coconut cereal!

As I've mentioned before, it's important to incorporate protein into your daily breakfast. If carbohydrates compose the majority of your meal, then you'll crash before lunch. Protein, however, keeps you full and provides you with lasting energy when combined with whole-grain carbs.

This hot quinoa coconut cereal recipe is a filling, tasty way to get a boost of protein for breakfast. (Quinoa is a grain that is very high in protein.) But since it only takes about 6 minutes to make, you won't be running on island time and can be off to work in no time!

Hot Quinoa Cereal
This recipe was adapted from the blog Green Lemonade

Serves: 1
1/4 cup quinoa, dry
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp. dry coconut flakes
1 Tbsp. slivered almonds
1 Tbsp. coconut or canola oil
1/2 cup almond milk
2-3 Tbsp. dried cranberries or berries, such as sliced strawberries or blueberries
1 Tbsp. honey 

1. Bring water and quinoa to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes or until water is absorbed.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan and toast coconut flakes and nuts over medium heat for 3 minutes, or until starting to lightly brown. 
3. Remove quinoa and coconut/nuts mix from heat and toss together in a bowl.
4. Add milk and honey. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Crazy for Coconut Week

With temperatures in the 80s it's already feeling like the start to summer here in Atlanta... and what brings to mind summer more than palm trees and coconuts?

So this week - whether you're stuck in chilly weather still or already dreaming of beach trips - I'm bringing you various ways to incorporate coconut into your meals.

To kick off the week let me share two funny stories about coconuts:

The first story happened when I was about ten years old. I was in the grocery store with my mom and saw a coconut in its shell being sold for 99 cents. It looked very intriguing to me, so after a lot of convincing that it was worth the dollar, we bought the coconut. And I was right- the coconut ended up being more than a dollars worth of entertainment. My dad spent probably an hour figuring out how to crack open the coconut and ended up resorting to a hammer and nail. Though highly comical to a ten year old, I promise the recipes this week won't require any manual labor!

The second story happened last year, while I was hanging out with friends in their dorm room at Vanderbilt. Someone began singing the "I like pina coladas" song in anticipation of spring break, and soon enough all five of us girls started in, and as others walked in, they joined in too. It was definitely a "Glee" moment... and John thought I was making the story up when I told him about it because the concept was so foreign to a guy!

So there you have it, Crazy for Coconut Week at BeEmbraced. No assembly (or dis-assembly!) required, though singing the Pina Colada Song is highly recommended.

Looking forward to a trip back to the  Bahamas with my parents this summer!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Worth the Risk: Community in the Windy City

Have you ever felt lonely even when you're surrounded by people? Have you ever moved to a new city and been homesick?

These feelings are often the result of not being in true community.

After writing this week's post on vulnerability, I began thinking about when I first recognized the importance of community.

During the fall of my junior year, I spent the semester in Chicago doing an internship for college credit at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Although John was at Wheaton College during this time, I was still an hour and a 43 floor elevator ride from him most days. I was 19 and had never lived alone in a big city. Learning how to use the bus system to get to work and remembering to only buy as much at the grocery store that I could carry home were just the beginning of life lessons that semester.

John and I in the Windy City

What I quickly realized is that unless I got involved, my only community would be from 9-5 at work. So I ventured a block away to Moody Church to check out their college group. Everyone here was extremely welcoming, but one girl in particular - Amanda is her name - completely changed my Chicago experience. Because even though Amanda already had a group of friends and was married, she welcomed me into her life and her home.

Here's what I learned about community and loving your neighbor from Amanda:

  • I was embraced as if I were a lifelong friend, even though I'd only known Amanda a couple of weeks. 
  • Hospitality is critical for community.  By Amanda opening up her home to me, we had the opportunity to talk, laugh, and share experiences. 
  • Both of us took a risk to be friends. What I mean by this is that we connected on a deep level even though I'd be leaving after the semester was over. Many people don't want to "put themselves out there" because relationships are often transient. But you miss out on so much growth and community if you only play it safe. I'm not suggesting to spill your life to anyone and everyone. You definitely need to be wise about who you trust, but you also have to trust that the community that vulnerability brings is well worth it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Case for Vulnerability

"Love your neighbor as yourself" is a common saying but life today is fast paced and individualized. For many it'd even be awkward to introduce yourself to your neighbors, particularly ones who have lived next door for months or years.

Certainly if we don't know our neighbors (and by this I don't just mean the families next door and across the street) it's hard to act out in love for them.

John and I in front our our Atlanta apartment. (We're in the bottom right unit, not the whole house!)

But what about reversing this saying - Let your neighbor love you for yourself. In other words, be embraced by your neighbor.

I think part of the difficulty in being ingrained in our communities is because we are unwilling to be vulnerable. It seems much safer for us to get home from work, lock the door, and only welcome those into our home whom we choose to surround ourselves by. We can choose our neighborhood but we can't choose our neighbors. And there's the rub. How can we be vulnerable with people we don't self-select into our lives? 
Yet this is exactly what we are called to do: "Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another" (1 Peter 4:8-10).
To welcome someone into your home means you're welcoming them into your heart. And to love earnestly, we must be willing to be fully known. We serve others most effectively by entering into relationships with them. Otherwise, we're serving for ourselves - as a duty, to feel good, contribute to a cause, etc. But serving is more than a cause. It's people in need... and many of those people are right on your street, desperate for a relationship.

To love your neighbor requires that you let them love you. If they only know the put together person that disappears behind the front door each day, then they cannot fully love you for the brokenness, heartache, mistakes, and hardships that materialize once the door is closed.

By shirking vulnerability, we deny others the opportunities to deeply love us and we deny ourselves the grace that they have to offer. And the ironic part? By letting our neighbors love us, we are in turn loving them.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Running Tips: Running Week Day IV

I've already written about using RunKeeper to track your runs and given advice about training for a half-marathon, so here are some more tips to make running a success for you:
  • Follow a training plan: If you're training for a race, follow a training plan and build in 2 extra weeks into the schedule to allow for travel, busy weeks, etc. I have always used Hal Higdon's training schedules because it lets you determine what level you are at (novice, intermediate, advanced) and has plans for 5Ks up to marathons.
  • Don't increase your mileage too fast or you'll get burnt out, or worse, injured.
  • Invest in a good pair of new running shoes
  • Listen to your body but also push yourself. I hurt my knee freshman year of college in a pilates class and ever since have had to be careful. During training, I listen to my body and stop if I feel pain. After long runs (8+ miles) I'll ice my knee to keep any inflammation down. On good days, I set a goal - like to run up a huge hill without stopping - and push myself to keep going despite fatigued muscles and a pumping heart. Test your limits but also know them.
  • Spend time customizing a playlist with your favorite, upbeat songs.
  • Strength training is important, especially for your core and legs. It'll make you stronger and be able to run faster and longer.
  • Stretching is critical. One day a week I practice yoga or pilates, and I notice a big difference in letting my muscles recover while strengthening in a new way.
  • Take one day off per week from exercising... and approach this day just as seriously as your training days. Although it's tempting to want to run or exercise every day, especially when you're in the momentum and excitement of training for a race, you need to let your body rest or you'll burn out.
Most importantly, be thankful for the opportunity to run and enjoy the outdoors, the scenery around you, your neighborhood, and the fresh air. You won't always have good running days, and sometimes you'll have to stop and walk up that big hill. But if you're grateful for the ability to get outside and push yourself a few days a week, then the results will follow. 

John and I, with our friend Jessica, after a Chick-fil-A 5K race this fall

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Training for the Country Music Half: Running Week Day III

On Tuesday, my fellow blogger, runner, and friend Leah posted an interview of me discussing running the Country Music Half-Marathon. Check out the original post here, or see my answers below.

Taken during the Country Music Half-Marathon
1. What half-marathon(s) have you completed?
Country Music Half-Marathon in Nashville, TN

2. Did you have any certain time goals in mind?
My goal was to run it in under 2 hours, and I ran it in 1 hour 54 minutes.

3. How long did you train?
I trained for about 12 weeks.

4. What was the longest distance you ran before the race?
I had only run 10 miles before the race because all of the advice I'd gotten was that adrenaline would carry me the last 3 miles during the race. However, the last 3 miles were the absolute hardest so I would not recommend this! Had I run 13 miles at least once, I would have known I could do it rather than struggling though the end.

5. How did you feel right before and right after the race?

  • Right before the race, I was very nervous and a little overwhelmed by how many people there were running it. I was afraid the hills were going to be difficult to run.
  • Right after, my legs felt like jelly and I was starving but feeling extremely accomplished, and especially proud that I beat my goal.
6. Did you have any special equipment, snacks, clothing, music, etc that made running13.1 miles more bearable?
I had my iPod to run with, and the week before I'd created a two-hour long playlist of my favorite upbeat songs. I was intentional with the order of the songs, knowing in the beginning I'd need some upbeat, fun songs to keep my nerves at bay, that toward the middle I'd need some inspirational songs, and at the end I would need my all-time favorites. I also ran as a part of my sorority, raising money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. We all wore the same t-shirts, so I felt a part of something bigger than me running for myself. It was also encouraging when onlookers would call out "Go Chi O!" 

7. Any last minute words of advice for me that you wish you'd known before your first half-marathon? 
See #4. Also, don't run on an empty or full stomach. I learned the hard way on both of these- you'll either feel sick and have to stop or not have enough energy and have to stop. Either wait 2 hours after eating a big meal or have a small snack (like half of a banana and half of an English muffin) if you need some fuel before running.

Great questions, Leah! Good luck to Leah as she runs in the Country Music Half Marathon this April!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pumped Up Kicks: Running Week Day II

Before you begin the "one step at a time" mentality for running, you need good running shoes to even take your first step. While visiting home in Orlando last month, I came back excited about getting new running shoes on sale for $99. My mom, looking at me in incredulity, couldn't believe $99 was considered a sale! 

Today, I interviewed Brooke Mills, who will fill you in on how to buy the best running shoes... and why they're worth the pricy investment.

Brooke is currently a Med student at Texas Tech, and completed her undergrad from Emory University in Atlanta. During her senior year there, she worked for a running shoe company, making her a perfect person to interview about investing in the right running shoes.  

Where did you work and for how long?
I worked at Big Peach Running Company in Decatur for 5 months. 

Why did you want to work there?

The store is the best combination of two things I love: medicine and sports. I loved learning about the different types of running shoes and the benefits of each. Big Peach has an in-depth "fit process" that measures each customer's foot size, width, pressure distribution, and actually records and digitally slows down people's strides. From these videos we could figure out what shoe works best for each customer based on whether or not people over-pronate (where the ankle rolls over the heel) when they run. There is much more of a science to selling shoes than people would think.

Why is it important to invest in a quality running shoe?

The old belief that running is pain actually should not be true. Avid runners who try to save money by running in a worn out or cheap pair of shoes often get injured, resulting in either the loss of the desire to run or, in extreme cases, expensive medical bills. Common injuries include shin splints, plantar fasciitis (arch pain), tendinitis, runners knee and many more. Quality running shoes, fit for a specific gate and foot shape, take the pressure off the ankle and knee and reduce the chance of injury. This doesn't necessarily mean that the more expensive running shoe, the better. Many of the less expensive shoes ($85-$100) are cheaper because they are lighter shoes and there is "less shoe" to buy. 

What are the benefits of purchasing running shoes at a store that specializes in them/fits them for you?
Most people are unaware that there are many different categories of running shoes: light weight trainers, structured shoes, neutral shoes, etc. How do you know which one to buy? If you are at Academy, how do you know which shoes are structured and which are neutral? There are equal amounts of each kind scattered throughout large chain stores, making it difficult to tell which ones are the best fit for you. 

Stores such as Big Peach look at your running gate to see if you need added support on the inside of your foot or maybe need less than normal. Those runners who severely over pronate may need more support on the inside of their foot. Structured shoes have a denser piece of foam under the arch of the shoe that helps reduce over-pronation. Neutral shoes have the same type of support throughout. 

Before I worked at Big Peach I was running in a very expensive, structured shoe and had no idea. I often went through month-long spells where I couldn't run due to plantar fasciitis. Turns out, I don't over pronate at all and the extra structure in my shoes resulted in severe foot pain after I ran long distances. A year ago I switched to neural shoes that are $40 cheaper and have yet to have any sort of pain. 

How often do you need new running shoes?
It depends on how much you run. Shoes usually last 600 miles and light weight trainers 400-500miles. I like to switch mine out at least every 6 months or have two pairs of shoes that I alternate.

What are the best brands of running shoes and how much can you expect to pay for them?
There are a lot of great brands of shoes, it's just a matter of what fits YOUR foot the best. Some of the top sellers at Big Peach were: Brooks, Saucony, Mizuno, Nike, Asics, Adidas and New Balance. They are all similar in price with light weight shoes averaging $85 and traditional $90-$140.

What running tips do you have?
Running shouldn't be a chore. If you want to run, run. If you're not feeling it a certain day, stop after 3 miles instead of pushing it to 4. In a city such as Atlanta, there are so many beautiful places and neighborhoods to run through. Mix up where you run and which areas you run through. 

Most importantly, make sure you have your health in mind, whether it be investing in quality running shoes or refueling after a 10 mile run. If you decide you want to take on your first marathon or half marathon, do your research and train smart to prevent injury, dehydration, or malnutrition.

Thanks, Brooke, for all of your insights and tips!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

One step at a time: Running Week Day I

This week's theme at BeEmbraced is running... but before all those non-runners out there tune out for a week, read my friend Leah's story about catching the running bug after "loathing running with a fiery passion."

This is how my love of running began: 

Throughout elementary school, I played soccer, and midfielder was my favorite position because it meant I got to run up and down the field. I didn't like being confined to only scoring or defending- I wanted to be everywhere on the field! 

I also used to ride my bike with Dad through the neighborhood while he ran. In about 5th or 6th grade, I decided I wanted to try running with him. We began timing ourselves and keeping track of our mile time in an Excel spreadsheet (high tech for 1999!). I remember telling my P.E. coach how excited I was that I ran a mile in 9 minutes 30 seconds. Then in 7th grade, I decided to run track and realized that my long legs were made for distance, not sprinting. I still pity my supportive parents who sat through hours of a track meet to watch me run for 6 minutes as I competed in the mile!

Up until a year ago, I ran for exercise and for fun but not competitively. Vanderbilt has a 3 mile loop around campus, which I completed a few times each week. Then my senior year, I decided to join a bunch of my sorority sisters and run in the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville. 

Now, I see why runners race competitively - all the cheering, music, camaraderie, and sense of accomplishment! I don't see myself ever running a marathon, simply because I don't think my body and knees could handle it, but 5K, 10K, and Half-Marathons here I come!

With John and our friend, Chuck, after a 5K race in freezing Chicago- I couldn't feel my feet for the first mile!
Join me this week as I share running tips, how to buy running shoes, and about my half-marathon race experience. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Flex those cooking "mussels"

This Sunday, John and I went to the Dekalb World Farmer's Market- and "world" is not a misnomer. There are fruits, vegetables, spices, etc. from all over the world, some that I haven't even heard of or seen before. I also felt like we took a mini-trip to a foreign country as I perused fresh parsley, pears, and romaine lettuce aside Korean, Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Central American, and Ethiopian families.

Though the market was extremely crowded (we made the mistake of going on a Sunday!), both the employees and the customers were very friendly, happy to point me in the right direction (as the market is very large) and grab me plastic bags when my brussels sprouts tumbled to the ground. 

It was so interesting to see what foods various ethnicities gravitated toward, so John and I decided to be adventurous ourselves and buy fresh mussels. 

When I got home, I realized that I'd never made mussels before... and then remembered having delicious mussels at my grandmother's house in St. Petersburg Beach through the summers growing up.

Below is the recipe she gave me (thanks Nana!), with some changes that I made based on ingredients I had on hand. They were delicious, and I served the mussels and broth over fresh linguine that we bought at the market as well (a huge difference from the typical dried pasta).

Mussels Recipe

Discard any open, broken or chipped mussels. It is important to clean them to remove any sand from the shells.  Soak in clean water for about 20 minutes.  Remove any "beards," which are just fibers coming out of the end of the shell.  Pull beard toward the hinge end of the shell, so you don't tear the mussel. 

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 chopped onion
1 sliced carrot and sliced stalk of celery (I used sliced mushrooms instead)
2 1/4 cups chicken broth (or white wine, which I used)
2 1/2 lbs mussels (if using less mussels, use less broth)
Bunch of fresh, torn spinach leaves, or frozen, chopped
*I also added 2 Tablespoons of capers and a couple sprigs of fresh thyme

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
2. Add garlic and onion and cook until soft about 5 or 6 min.
3. Add sliced carrot and celery (or mushrooms), cook another 7 or 10 min. until soft.
4. Add mussels
5. Add chicken broth or white wine
6. Cover pan and allow mussels to simmer in the broth mixture until the shells open, about 5 min.
7. Discard any mussels that don't open.
8. Stir spinach (and capers and thyme) into broth just before serving.

Mussels can be served over linguine or with crusty French bread, to dip in the broth, and a fresh green salad.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Warm-hearted Impulses and Righting Wrongs

Have you ever felt nudged to do something kind but out of the ordinary for someone? Did you act on it?

Everyone has heard of random acts of kindness, but I prefer thinking of them as warm-hearted impulses. The difference isn't significant, but recognizing that these inclinations come from the heart and need to be acted on impulsively changes their meaning. Rather than deliberating, just react. Do that warm-hearted act you're feeling urged toward.

At Roam Atlanta, where I head up talent and culture development, we've been discussing how warm-hearted impulses play out in business. 

Many are familiar with the stories of Nordstrom's customer service. Their employees' only rule is to use good judgment. Customer satisfaction is Nordstrom's primary focus, so they embed this into their culture. Take these examples:
  • A Nordstrom employee complimentary gift wrapped products a customer bought at Macy's
  • A Nordstrom employee drove a customer to the airport
  • A Nordstrom employee picked up a customer's dry cleaning and dropped it off at the customer's house
And these employees were commended for their out of the ordinary actions. They acted on warm-hearted impulses and won loyal customers as a result.

Contrast this to the experience I just had at Macy's. (And I realize this is just one Macy's not necessarily the whole chain.)

I went to pick up a ring I had resized, which they originally told me it would take two weeks and be free of charge since the ring was purchased with a service plan. One month later I am told that my ring is ready and will cost $35. So I arrive at Macy's (not close to anywhere I frequent by the way) already a bit perturbed.

I come armed with my receipt for proof of the service plan, but before I can go any further, I realize the ring is still too big. I kindly ask the employee if she can expedite the process since it was Macy's resizing service who made the error. The answer was no. The employee then wanted to keep my receipt with the proof of purchase. I asked if instead she could photocopy it, allowing me to keep a copy. (I could just foresee not having my receipt and never getting my ring back.) The answer: again no because she isn't allowed to leave her station.

I'll spare you the rest of the details but suffice it to say that I don't know when the ring will be ready, and I am prepared to come armed with my receipt the second time. On the way home I was reflecting that at a place that valued customer service, the employee would have called someone else over to make a photocopy (but then again, they wouldn't have been under lock and key in the first place) and had the manager assist in reconciling the mistake.

The main takeaway for you is that whatever your area of business, mistakes can be your greatest opportunity to display warm-hearted impulses. Go above and beyond just righting a wrong. Impulsively act with a servant's heart.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Run Keeper

It's been rainy and gray here in Atlanta, but when the sun peeks out I take advantage of those precious moments and lace up my running shoes.

Currently, my favorite running accompaniment is the app RunKeeper. This app is ideal for you if you like to track your pace, set goals, do intervals, and/or keep track of your runs and mileage. The app allows you to choose an activity (i.e. running, cycling, hiking, skiing, etc.) and then set what sort of coaching you want.

For running, the coaching options are a target pace, intervals, or set distance. The app uses GPS, so every 5 minutes your "coach" tells you how you're doing, noting your pace, distance, and time run. (If you set a pace goal, she'll also calculate how far ahead or behind your goal you are.) The coach will also keep track of intervals (such as sprint for 30 seconds and recover for 1 minute) and let you know when it's time to sprint or recover. You can save your favorite workouts so at the push of a button you're on your way.

After a run, your activities are saved in a log, including date/time of the run, distance and time, as well as average pace and calories burned. For those mathematically-minded, you can see a bar graph of your minute-by-minute pace. You can also post your workouts to Facebook and Twitter if for some reason you want everyone to know that detailed of stats.

Bottom-line: This app is perfect for any level of runner. If you are goal-oriented or training for a race, then I highly recommend using this app to hold you accountable for logging mileage and your average pace. Regardless of your running intensity, though, doesn't everyone enjoy having a coach talk in their ear every 5 minutes?