Hello Monday! Another weekend has come and gone, but what better way to start off the week than with a awesome post on another one of my wonderful friends who ROCKS! “Casto” (what I would call her on the field hockey field through out college and still to this day is a great friend, who I met in college, while playing hockey. She is an incredible runner, athlete, cook, and person. I wanted to highlight Casto, because she is very passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. We can talk endlessly about training, food, and yoga…Enough of me talking! Read below my interview with Casto.
Thanks for sharing your story! You ROCK!
The College of William and Mary Varsity Field Hockey Team
Player (2000-2004) and Captain (2003-2004)
- Presented with the Unsung Hero Award for 2 consecutive years, chosen by the team and coaches in special recognition of outstanding contribution to the team
Local Elite Long Distance Runner (2007-Present)
- BAA Boston Marathon: April 21, 2008, 2:58:56, 46th Female
- Philly Distance Run Half Marathon: September 21, 2008, 1:25:43, 44thFemale
- Cherry Blossom 10 Miler: April 5, 2009, 1:04:05, 45th Female
- NYRR Joe Kleinerman 10K: December 6, 2009, 38:45, 13th Female
- Hood to Coast: August 2011, 2nd Place Coed Team
How do you balance a healthy lifestyle?
Balancing a healthy lifestyle incorporates the mind and the body. I think it is important to find peace within yourself that you can share with others. I do this by maintaining a positive outlook on life and creating fulfilling relationships. I try to surround myself with people who make me happy. Happiness spreads. I believe in smiling at strangers and laughing with children on the subway, in the street, all around us.
Our mind and our body are deeply connected. With a positive approach to each day, I take care of my body to keep it healthy and happy. For me, this means filling it with nutritious foods and being physically active. I am now maintaining a plant-based whole foods diet without any animal products. This is a commitment I have made for both my health and the environment. I also try to move my body almost everyday. Running is my first love. Lacing up my shoes and just heading out the door. I enjoy being able to run wherever I am. From home, from school, in a new city, on park trails. I also enjoy supplementing my running with spinning and yoga. Yoga has given me a way to strengthen my mind and my core. It is both relaxing and challenging.
A balanced lifestyle also means taking the day off. I have come to understand the importance of this. Our bodies need rest. I have witnessed many injuries and sickness due to overtraining. It is also important not to be completely obsessive about what you eat. I guess this is tough for me to say since I have eliminated meat, fish, and dairy from my diet. But, more importantly what I mean is allowing yourself to eat foods you enjoy. As Urhan has mentioned before, it is all about balance. A majority of the time I eat a balanced diet composed of whole foods; fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. It is a combination of complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats with very little processed foods or refined sugars. However, I also believe it is important to enjoy your favorite treats. Whether it’s the occasional order of french fries, brownie, or one too many glasses of red wine, it’s good to remember not to feel guilty afterwards. Find out what works well for you in maintaining a healthy balance.
Why do you train? What motivates you?
Throughout my life I have been always been active. I began playing soccer and field hockey in middle school. And remember lifting weights with my Dad soon after. I have had different reasons to train from athletic goals of college recruitment to achieving personal records in road racing to maintaining overall health and fitness. After playing field hockey in college with Uhran, I continued to workout, but lost focus. Two years later, another teammate of ours asked me to join her in a 4 mile race in Central Park. I was immediately hooked. I enjoyed the competition and atmosphere. This big group of runners of various abilities, all out there together. After a few short races, I decided to challenge myself at new distances and signed up for my first half marathon in fall 2006. Finishing without a struggle and a decent time, I chose a marathon for the following summer. That spring I joined a running group to work on my speed and meet other runners. This led me to meet my husband and many of my closest friends.
Running became my passion and I found I was decent at longer distances. I trained to get faster and set time goals for myself. I also began to pay more attention to food and how it affected my training. My interest grew and I decided to make a career change. I went from working in the fashion industry to going back to school for nutrition and exercise health. I wanted to understand more and share this passion with others. Over the past year while in school and prepping for my wedding, I balanced running, yoga, and spinning. My focus shifted from training for specific races to maintenance and strength building. I began to challenge myself outside of running.
How important is nutrition to you?
Nutrition is extremely important. It would be wrong for me to say its not. I am currently going back to school for nutrition. I am working on my Masters in Nutrition and Applied Physiology at Teachers College, Columbia University. This will also lead me towards becoming a Registered Dietitian. Through my classes, I am continually learning and expanding my understanding of food, our nutrient needs, the human body and our food system.
Nutrition is important in both short term and long term health. It is true when we say “We are what we eat.” Continual unhealthy habits will affect us. We are now seeing more and more links between diet and disease. It is sad to see the rates of obesity and diabetes within the United States. Our country has some serious changes to make to educate individuals and change our food system.
What are your goals for 2012 both professionally and physically?
After some time away from running specific training, I have the itch again. I have signed up for my first races in over a year. I am starting with a 10K, 5K, and 10 miler in January and February. I am hoping to follow this with a half marathon in March or April. After a shorter distance spring season, I am planning on a buildup to a fall marathon.
I would also like to continue developing my yoga practice. I am thinking about getting my teaching certification this summer. However, I will need to choose between that and a fall marathon. The specific training I would want to put into each would conflict.
Professionally, I am continuing to challenge myself at school and in the work place. My goal at school is to continue to learn and do well in my classes. Outside of school, I am currently working at the Obesity Research Center at St.Luke’s Hospital. I am a research study coordinator on a few diabetes and weight loss studies. I work with a Registered Dietitian on providing nutritional counseling for our patients. I have enjoyed working with a variety of individuals and watching them make healthy lifestyle changes. This year, my goal is to strengthen my counseling skills and become more confident. I would like to better prepare myself for counseling sessions. With more preparation, I be able to provide my input supported by sound nutritional advice for each individual.
*I love my sweets! I always say I would have a defined six-pack if it wasn’t for the sweet treats. I enjoy something sweet after dinner. And even as an almost nutritionist, it’s hard to get out of the habit. I am always trying healthier alternatives using a natural sugar such as dates or packing it with hidden protein such as beans or nuts.
*I love travelling! I am intrigued by visiting new unknown places. I wish I could afford to travel more often. This past summer I travelled with my husband to Portugal and Spain for our honeymoon. My favorite stop was Barcelona. The combination of art, food, and culture was perfect. You could shop downtown, walk down to the beach, enjoy lunch overlooking the ocean, stroll through the park, and check out modern art all in one day.
*My perfect day would take place in the fall. I would go for a long morning run with my husband and friends. There are some beautiful dirt trails outside of the city at Minnewaska State Park or Rockefeller State Park. The leaves would be changing colors, reds, oranges, and yellows. I would have the perfect run, feeling strong on the hilly trails and enjoying the natural adrenaline rush. After our run, we would enjoy a picnic filled with delicious homemade dishes. Once we fueled up for recovery, we would go apple picking. Tasting apples, laughing, running through the orchard. The day would be filled with my favorite things: my husband, my close friends, healthy food, and a beautiful run.
Which one of your friends inspires you? Why?