Fitness Friday

I always tell people that I’m not competitive.

At all.

In fact, if someone is racing me up a hill (even in an actual race,) I simply let them pass.  There is absolutely no rise in my inner, deep-down, somewhere-hiding competitive spirit.

But then again.

This isn’t entirely true.

I am  competitive.

Just not with other people.

I’m competitive with me.  I want my fitness to continuously grow stronger each year.  I want to increase my strength.  Increase my endurance.

Last year, I ran my first half marathon.

I was practicing yoga twice a week, running on average 20 miles a week.

I was


Now I’m just getting back into the groove after a lay off due to injuries.

And honestly, it’s not easy seeing a weaker version of myself out on the roads.  My speed has dropped.  I’m heaving on hills.  During yoga, I enter child’s pose more often than I care to admit.

(I imagine this must be what the competitive person feels when their arch nemesis beats them by a mile. 😉 )

Fast forward to this morning.

I was out for a testy 6-mile run, something I haven’t done before achilles tendonitis flared its ugly head.

I started to warm up.

I felt slow but I felt good.  And mile after mile, none of that other seemingly silly self-competitive stuff seemed to matter.

My shoulders relaxed.

Tension escaped with one strong, windy breeze.

The sand crunched like glass beneath my feet.

I could almost taste the fragrant smells of pine and dirt and rainy day puddles.

The world appeared to be asleep.

But I wasn’t.  Not today.

It was one step.  One step at a time.

I was becoming the very best of me.

Polenta Casserole with Winter Squash and Greens–modified from a Moosewood Restaurant’s Cooking For Health Cookbook

After a run or a tough workout, it’s nice to fill up with something warm, satisfying, and deeply nutritious.

I have been completely sold on the casserole bandwagon lately.  I like that once all the prep work is done, I have time to clean up, do dishes and set the table while dinner just cooks itself.  The prep work takes some time, but the recipe is worth the effort now and then.

I used kabocha squash for this recipe, but feel free to use butternut, acorn or another form of winter squash.  Also feel free to use whatever green you have on hand in place of the kale and/or another favorite type of cheese in place of cheddar.  Enjoy!

Polenta Layer

  • 2-1/3 cups water
  • 2/3 cup whole grain cornmeal (not instant polenta)
  • 2 oz. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
Greens Layer
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium/large bunches of stemmed and chopped kale
  • 1/4 cup water
Squash Layer
  • 1-1/2 cups mashed winter squash (about 6 cups of cubed squash that has been steamed will create this)
  • 1 egg
  • pepper
  • 2/3 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  1. For the polenta layer: Bring the water to a boil in a heavy saucepan and whisk in cornmeal.  Add tomatoes, thyme, basil and salt to taste.  Cook on low heat, stirring frequently until the polenta is thick and creamy, about 10 minutes.  Stir in cheese.  Pour into an 8-inch square baking pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. For the greens layer: In a medium pot, cook garlic in oil over medium heat for about 30 seconds or until fragrant.  Add greens and water.  Cover, cook, stirring occasionally until greens are tender, about 10 minutes.  Salt to taste.  Spread greens over polenta.
  3. For the squash layer: In a bowl, stir together the squash, egg, pepper and half the cheese.  Spread the squash mixture over the greens and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.
  4. In a preheated 350 oven, bake covered for 35 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 10-15 minutes.  Enjoy!!

QUESTION: Are you a competitive person?  In what ways? 

12 comments on “Fitness Friday

  1. Christina says:

    Really excellent post!! Your photos are beautiful and this recipe looks and sounds amazing. Stop by and say hi,

  2. So yummy – what camera do you use? And yes, i am competitive!

  3. mixxedtape says:

    You go girl! I think “competing” against yourself is one of the most difficult battles out there, I’m glad to hear you were able to let it all go and just enjoy your run 🙂 that dish looks amazing!

  4. BroccoliHut says:

    I would say I am most often competitive with myself–particularly in academics and fitness.
    I have also been known to be competitive with my two older sisters on occasion…

    • Sarah says:

      Oh, yes. Definitely self competitive when it comes to academics as well. Especially in chemistry, which practically buried me in the end. 😉

  5. SpaceySteph says:

    Love how you mix random pics of the recipe as you write and the whole time I’m like “ooh what is that I hope she tells us!” Very suspensful.
    Also I can’t wait to try this. I am trying to hard to like kale but so far have not found a recipe for it that I liked. Perhaps sandwiching it between two things I DO like will work!? Trying this ASAP…

    • Sarah says:

      Yes! Sandwiching kale into something delicious really does wonders. The cheesey polenta sort of oozes in and creates this cheese sauce surrounding the kale. It’s lovely. 😀

  6. I can completely relate. I ran my first half marathon in Sept of last year. I felt on top of the world with my fitness and endurance. Then I got a hip issue that set me back about 6 weeks and I had to stay off the pavement for that time. it was hard to get back in it and not let the emotions and frustrations get the best of me.

    I just learned last week how easy (and versatile) polenta is to make! WOOT! I think a casserole is next on my list of polenta dishes.

  7. Beautiful post – and that recipe looks w.o.n.d.e.r.f.u.l.

    I am competitive kind of in the same way you are. I will push myself really hard and wind up injury-bound because of it. I’m running my 1st marathon this April and I joined Crossfit too – now I”m up to 50 miles a week and 3 Crossfit classes, and I actually think my running is suffering for it. Back down, me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s