What Matters

Foundation

I ran a new personal best today, but that’s not what’s important.  It doesn’t matter how fast or far I ran yesterday.  It doesn’t matter how that compares with today.  It’s cool that I ran my new personal best, but that’s not what really matters.  It matters that I got my shoes on, laced up and got out there.  And tomorrow it’s not going to matter what I did today or how it compares….it will matter if I choose to do it again.

Every day is made up of a thousand choices – what to have for breakfast, whether I hit the snooze button or not, how to respond to someone at work, how to word that email, when to let something go….  Those are all choices.  And every afternoon, when I get home, I have the choice to go put on my shoes, or to “take the day off”.

Taking the day off is not necessarily a bad thing – our bodies need time to recover before we push ourselves further or faster or longer than we have done before.  Training is a journey, and rest is just as important as pushing.  The trick is knowing when.

But taking the day off because you can tell your body needs a recovery day is different than taking the day off because you just don’t feel like lacing up.  That is the choice that has to do with attitude, and that choice is one that I have every single day.

It’s great to have a goal and it’s wonderful to be able to compare my times, distances and splits to see how much I’ve improved.  It gives me confidence to see where I’ve come from, and it gives me motivation to keep going.  However, it’s even more important to me that I take that first step, every single time.  I had some friends who were debating about what the hardest part of a run was… “it’s the first half mile.”  “No, it’s definitely the last half mile.”  “No way, it’s the back half of the middle when you are already tired, but you can’t see the end yet.”

I think the hardest part of the run is usually the attitude that comes before you ever set foot outside.  It is making the decision in your head to get after it one more day, to set your mind to today’s goal, whether that is just getting the mileage done, or pushing yourself to go faster than you’ve done in the past, or going further, or facing rainy or cold conditions….  The hardest part is making the choice to begin with.  The part that matters is considering all of that and still choosing to put on the shoes, set your mind, and go.  First step.  Second step.  Find a rhythm.  Making the choice to run is what matters…today and every day.

74 Seconds

iPod Watch

The whole reason I started out on this crazy train to start a blog while getting ready to run a half marathon was because a friend said to me that I was going to want to remember the process, remember the good times and the hard times, and that I was going to really appreciate that I’d taken the time to record this for myself….later.

So I started out – writing a blog that I didn’t know how to write, and running, which I also didn’t know how to do.  But I kept writing then, and I keep writing now, and somehow my life and internal process shifted so that I think about what I want to write about every day…even if I don’t actually get something written….the thought process has become a part of me.

I started out running, slowly.  Literally, I was slow.  Actually, let’s be honest, I was doing slightly more than a fast walk disguised as a jog.  But I kept at it then, and I keep at it now….and I asked questions, and I read articles, and I talked to coaches and other runners and fitness experts, and I tried to hold on to the little nuggets of gold that I received from each of them.  I remembered some things, and I forgot a lot more things….and I keep learning.  And I keep running.

When I first started, before I talked to a single person, I carried two things with me, a watch (not a fancy one), and my iPod.  With my non-fancy watch, I figured out how to determine my pace.  (As previously mentioned, I was slow.)  My iPod was mostly dance music gone amuck.  I got a fancier watch, which I still don’t know how to use very well, and I still carry my iPod, which still plays dance music sometimes, but more often, I am listening to a novel.  (The novel doesn’t mess with my cadence as much.)  However, the one thing I knew I needed to figure out how to do with my new fancy watch was to see my pace…so that I would have one thing to compare over time.

8 seconds.  That’s how long you have to ride a bull for the ride to count.  9.58 seconds is the current world record for the 100 meter dash.  20 seconds – approximately how long I shake a martini.  30-45 seconds is how long I plank every day. 60 seconds is one minute.  74 seconds is how much time I’ve lost.

When I started, I could run a mile or two, and consistently, my pace would be 12:34 / mile.  Today I realized that I am consistently running a tempo pace of 11:20, and I can sustain it.  Today is the reason I’m keeping a log – to remember where I came from, to keep me moving forward.  I’m still not very fast, but I’m a lot faster than I was, and more importantly, I’m proud of the journey.

She was right….I’m glad that I’m keeping a record of this experience.

Stronger, Faster

images

I have been running consistently for a little over a month now, and I have learned a couple things.  1. Running really can be addictive, even if I fight against it.  2. There is such a thing as a “runner’s high”.  3. Slow and steady is the way to go to build up a base.  4.  I might sort of like this running thing. 

When I started this journey, it was with the end goal of being able to run a half marathon without stopping.  I was pretty sure that this was going to be one of those big audacious goals I had in life, and as soon as I finished, I’d cross it off my bucket list and be done with it all.  When I said I’d signed up to run the Half, my friend Amy said, “Oooo, if you do a Half, I guarantee you will want to do a full, and after you do a full, you may or may not want to do an ultra.”  I remember reading this and thinking, she is certifiably insane!  I still think Amy might be crazy, but I am getting addicted to running which is a huge surprise to me.  Last week when it was so cold, I was getting antsy and irritable because it had been too long since I’d had a chance to get outside and stretch my legs.  I look forward to each week of training now.  And as a bonus, that keeps me motivated to keep training!

Yesterday, I had the best run.  I got out there, and just went after it.  I didn’t check my time, my pace, or anything while I was out there – I just ran.  When I got to the end, I honestly felt like I could take on anything, and then I checked my watch….I had gone further and faster than I’d ever gone before, and I felt strong!  The high I felt 20 seconds earlier skyrocketed!

By concentrating on adding mileage in a consistent, and yet, not overly aggressive manner I have been able to get stronger and faster without hurting.  I’m pretty sure that I will hurt eventually, but I don’t hurt yet, and after a month, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be!  That’s exciting.

I’m still pretty sure that my end game here is to do a Half Marathon, and so far, I am not even entertaining the idea of running a full marathon someday, but I can see myself running after this Half….just for fun.  I think I might sort of like this running thing.

(photo credit unknown)

Snow Tires…For My Shoes

Spikey Shoes

“I had a plan!” I wailed.  “It was written down, I check each day off, and if I can’t follow it, I won’t be ready, and I am never going to be able to finish the race!”  My hysteria was evident even if it was a text message.

“What’s the problem?  You have plenty of time.”

“The problem?  It’s snowing!  And it’s going to keep snowing!  And it’s supposed to be cold, so there is going to be ice on the ground.”  (I am new at this whole running thing – I can’t just go out there and run 13 miles like he can – he runs marathons all the time.  Obviously, he did not understand the stakes we are talking about.)  “I will slip and fall and break my neck!  Or tear my ACL which would be worse!  I need snow tires for my shoes.  Or little spikey things.  Or SOMETHING so I can follow my plan.”

“lol.  They have those.”

“….what?!”

I waited with my thumbs poised over the phone.  Nothing.  No message.  Didn’t he realized that my life was hanging in the balance here?

I decided to try again, “I was kidding when I said that.  Seriously?  They make snow tires for shoes?”

“lol.  Nah, mine are YakTrax Pro.  They work great.”

This was life changing news!  I looked them up.  Apparently, there are all kinds of things you can use, and if you are really wanting to do it yourself, you can even just use the cordless drill and some screws and make your own!  Although, then, your shoes are pretty much just snow running shoes.  And since I’m a new runner and only have one pair of shoes to begin with, I decided I needed something a little less permanent.  So I started doing a little research and quickly realized that before making a purchase, I needed to consider a couple things.

Type of terrain for running.  I have a lot of friends who love to run trails.  I am not one of those people.  I actually like running on streets and sidewalks, through neighborhoods, and past houses.  This means that when I’m running in snow and ice, and especially if it starts to get into that half ice, half melted stage, I will be on snow, icy patches (especially in shade), and on concrete or asphalt all in the same run.  I need something that will hold up to all types of ground.  Concrete is especially not very forgiving to spikes and they might snap off.

Type of winter weather.  I live in Colorado now, but I used to live in Pennsylvania.  I’ve also lived in Chicago.  All three of these places get snow, but unlike Pennsylvania or Chicago, when it snows in Denver, it doesn’t always stay very long.  Two days ago, we got six inches of snow here in the city, but all the “south” facing sidewalks are already almost clear already today because the sun is so intense that it melts!  I remember winters in Pittsburgh where once the ice was on the walk, it was there to stay until the spring thaw in April.  That being said, we do get snow here, and when it snows, most of the time, it is very dry coming down, but it also packs into pretty serious ice, especially if it warms up just enough to melt a bit and then drop back down into the teens at night.

How often am I running in this weather?  As I might have stated above, I have a plan, and for the most part, I really like sticking to my plans in life.  I needed a solution that was not permanent (like flat head screws in my shoes), but I needed something that would be easy to put on and take off.  It needs to be convenient.  Right now, my plan calls for me to run 4-5 times a week.  Later on in my training, I will be hitting the pavement (or snow and ice) 6 times a week.  I need to be prepared.

Dependability and return policy.  As I started doing some research, it turns out that certain types of spikes or grips or cleats or traction “things” are great for specific uses.  In reading reviews, articles, and information, I figured out that the people who really like YakTrax were mostly trail runners, and that YakTrax did not have such a good record on mixed pavement and snow and ice.  I found that people who lived up in the mountains and had a solid base of snow and ice to run in all season prefer the spikes, but again, if there was a good possibility of being on asphalt or concrete, they had a tendency to snap.  It also turns out that the “recommended sizing” of traction devices is not always very accurate.  Since most are designed to grip over the toe and heel, think about a size 7 running shoe versus a size 7 boot.  Boots are just going to be bigger….so you sort of need to make sure that whatever you get fits the shoe or boot you intend to use it with.

For all of these reasons and considerations, I ended up at my local REI, and walked out with a pair of IceTrekkers Diamond Grip.  I took them out for a spin this afternoon, and they work great…and I can stick to my plan.  Thank goodness they actually DO make snow tires for my shoes!

Me Time

snowy street

I have heard runners talk about how they love their runs because it is “me time”.  I never understood that language…until now.  Suddenly, it makes sense.  It is the time that I leave my phone at home, and when no one can interrupt me, because I run wherever I want without my electronic leash.  I am not following a route or a predetermined course.  It’s just me and my shoes, and possibly my iPod.  I am simply out there, being, pushing, feeling, listening, keeping on….one foot in front of another.  So that at the end, I can look at myself and say, yeah, you did it one more time.

I’m finding that I look forward to this “me time”.  It is time that I can use to escape from stress in life, and it is time to reflect on myself, my goals, what I want to blog about, my challenge and my triumphs. It is time that I can ask myself the hard questions about my future and be forced to spend time with those questions, because I can can’t be distracted by a text or phone call, someone at the door, a to-do list, another person, something “easier” to deal with, or just plain wasted time doing nothing at that moment.  It is amazing what you think about when you just have yourself in front of you.

Not every day is a deep thinking day…sometimes, the “me time” is what I use to get away from this world.  I escape my reality by listening to music or a new book.  Lately it’s been more books than music while I am still figuring out what my pace is supposed to be.  The beat of the music messes me up a little.

Some days are just dream days – I think about new recipes or places I want to visit this year.  I pay attention to the trees and the neighborhoods, the architecture of that house, and the state of the sidewalk, for no other reason than just to be in the now.

Today was both an “in the moment” and “listen to a novel” kind of day.  It snowed yesterday, so the streets are slushy, the trees are beautiful, the cars hum by in the background, and I get to just be in my own space…remembering that I didn’t run yesterday, which has made me look forward to today all that much more.  I appreciate the beauty of semi-dirty snow in the street, contrasted with the pristine white yards, paying attention to my foot fall, and thinking to myself that running in snow is harder!  The snowflakes have started drifting down again, and as they gently land on my face, I am thankful because I know when I get home, my dog will greet me at the door, I have dry socks, and a heater that works.  Today is a good day.

Plan B

PathDiverge

(photo credit unknown)

“We must be willing to give up the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell

I saw a movie recently called Finding Joe, and several messages of the movie have been following me everywhere – at work, in my personal life, in dreams, in my training…to the point that I am compelled to write about it tonight.

The movie is about the teaching of Joseph Campbell, who was one of the world’s leading experts on mythology, and he developed a theory based on the archetypal pattern that is seen and used in storytelling across time and cultures called The Hero’s Journey.  I am not going to explain this in the eloquence it deserves, so if you are not familiar with Joseph Campbell or his work, do yourself a favor and google him and/or make it a point to watch the movie Finding Joe.

In a nutshell, The Hero’s Journey could be broken down this way: every hero starts out in his or her ordinary world and has a Call to Adventure, which is a Challenge.  Through accepting that Call, the Hero must face his own Fears, his Dragons, fight Battles, experience death to also be able to experience re-birth and transformation, and finally be able to return home to share the story with others.  The Hero’s Journey is a worthy topic for a post all on it’s own, but for today, I want to focus on this one quote – the idea that to experience what is truly meant for you in life may mean not following the path that you are planning on taking.

Joseph Campbell is not the first, nor will he be the last, person to propagate this idea.  In poetry Robert Frost said it this way, “…Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

I believe in having plans.  A direction, a timeframe, goals and milestones.  I especially believe in having a plan when I am not exactly sure of what I’m doing.  For instance, in the case of getting ready for my half marathon, I have a training plan that I am following, and within that training plan, I have mapped out exactly what I need to do every day for eighteen weeks, whether it’s a long run or a rest day. It’s printed out neatly in an excel spreadsheet, and it hangs on the wall at work so I can see my progress and how much I have accomplished, and what I am scheduled to do tomorrow.  I can check off each day with my green highlighter so that at the end of the week, I have a nice long green line of completed days, and I look forward to eventually seeing a whole sheet of green marks.  In some small way, I measure my training success by seeing all the green marks, which is really a dumb way to measure my progress.  On race day, it’s not going to matter what color my sheet is, it’s going to matter if I cross the finish line.

The thing is, Mother Nature doesn’t really care what my training plan says, and I live in Colorado, and it’s January.  That means she isn’t above sending snow and ice my way, which is why I need to be flexible enough to have a Plan B.  The “life I’ve planned” in terms of my running is based on a grid that I’ve printed and convinced myself that if I follow it, I will be successful in my goals for the race I will run.  But I’ve never done this before, so it’s possible that I can follow my plan to the letter, and I still wouldn’t make it through the entire race without walking for part of it.  Following my plan does not guarantee my success, whatever I have defined “success” to be.  And, just as in life, training may not go according to plan.  In fact, chances are greater that they will not go according to plan.

My question, and subsequently, my challenge is to decide if I will be rigid in following my plan, or am I willing to be fluid and flexible enough to let the training process be organic, understanding that the outcome may not be what I envision today.  This is a lesson in life as much as it is a lesson for training – that while the risk is that my final reality doesn’t match the picture in my head for my outcome, the possibility remains that if I am flexible, the outcome could be far greater than anything I can imagine right now.

Measuring Up

Ruler

It’s everywhere – in how many miles I log, to how fast I go.  It is the number of calories I consume, how many I burn, and how much sleep I get.  It is absolutely anything and everything that has a number associated to it.  And if there isn’t already a number, as humans, we find ways to put a number next to it, assigning it a value of some sort.  And by assigning it a value, it can be recorded, compared, reviewed, and evaluated.  We do this at work, in school, in relationships, in athletics, in goals and timeframes.  We do it to our children, our friends, and ultimately we do it to ourselves.  It’s always about measuring up in some way.

When I think about running and training to run, measurement is important because it provides me with a goal, it keeps me honest, and in a purely pragmatic way, it is how I can see improvement.  When I started a couple weeks ago, I timed myself, and calculated how far I was going, not because I knew what I was doing, or even had anything to compare it to, but because I needed to figure out a baseline for myself.  That being said, do I measure up?

 

All the training plans I saw are designed with having a “Goal Race Pace” in mind.  Based on that goal, you push yourself harder and in various ways so that you can achieve your goal.  When you have no idea what your goal pace is, it’s hard to get started on your training plan.  Is a 13 minute mile pace too slow?  I want to finish well, and to be perfectly honest with myself, I don’t want to be dead last.  (3rd to last is ok, as long as I also finish with a smile on my face, but not preferable.)  Is it reasonable to shoot for a 9 minute mile?  Because those two numbers, and consequently, how I set my pace for the rest of my training, is drastically different depending on which goal I’m training for.

Ok, so I have figured out that a 9 minute mile is not in my future for this half marathon, and that’s ok.  I have also figured out that aiming for a 13 minute mile is not pushing myself hard enough to reach the potential I know I have, even for my very first half marathon.  I will find my pace somewhere in the middle, I’m sure.  The point is, it all comes back to measurement, in the microcosm of my goal pace, my performance each day as I train, the daily distances I run, my weekly totals, and ultimately, my race day performance.

But even in all this measurement, is there, or should there be, room for interpretation?  Should I allow myself grace as I go through the process?  If my training plan says I am running 3 miles today, and I only do 2.86 miles according to my handy-dandy Garmin watch, have I failed?  Have I let myself down?

I am coming to believe that while measurement is important, and it will certainly help me as I continue on my path of training, it is not the only thing.   Spirit, determination, enthusiasm, and attitude play an equally important role.  I have no idea what my VO2max was before I started, but I know that I can run 2 miles more easily today than I could two weeks ago.  I know that my legs are getting stronger and that my muscles are leaning out.  I could have numbers for all these things, but I decided that I didn’t need to measure everything.  If I only run 2.86 miles, but I am fully there and engaged, paying attention to myself, my form, and enjoying the moment I am in, am I any less disciplined?  Is my .14 short change going to alter the outcome on race day?  Probably not.  I also know that there are other days when I run 3.27 miles, so in the end, I believe it will all even out.

I will still measure the distances I run, and I will track how fast I’m running, but half of what makes me proud today is knowing that for almost three weeks now, I keep putting on my shoes and stepping out the front door.  For now, that is the measure of success that matters to me.

The Long Road Ahead

Road Ahead

 

It was bound to happen…I just didn’t expect it to be so soon.  It’s called unexpected pain.

I started having issues with my hips when I was about 15 years old. I saw doctors, I had tests, I tried stretches, I wore different shoes, and nothing seemed to help.  As much as I didn’t think it was normal for a 19 year old girl to be in pain just from walking across a college campus, I just lived with it because I didn’t think there was anything I could do.  Fast forward about fifteen years…. I started seeing a body mechanic (a kinesiologist), and after a lot of work, he got me back to “normal”, or at least to a place where it didn’t hurt to walk half a block.  I considered this a great success and thought he was a miracle worker.

I have been able to train for other events, learn to ski, and generally be active, and my hips haven’t bothered me in a couple years, so it never occurred to me that starting to train for a half marathon might flare up old issues.  I mean, I get it.  Running is hard on the body with all the pounding, and I am stressing my legs and muscles and joints in ways that I haven’t done before.  But seriously?  This is a little bit frustrating!  I am only ten days into my training and I have another 16 weeks to go.

I don’t want to actually injure myself, nor do I want to give up or slack off simply because I am experiencing pain.  Some pain is going to be normal.  I’m pretty sure that when I cross the finish line, I will feel all kinds of pain….but not yet!

While I was out for my run tonight, I was thinking about this situation, and I’m pleased to report that quitting is not an option.  I very quickly crossed that off the list.  However, if I want to run this race, then I want to actually run it and feel good doing it.  So, I need a strategy to get me there.  Here is what I came up with.

First off, I’m calling my body mechanic to schedule a tune up.  Secondly, I am already stretching and foam rolling, but I am going to add some specific tennis ball action around my hip socket and see if that begins to loosen some things up.  Thirdly, I am starting a “planking regimen” each day.  I know that core work is essential, and the stronger my core is, the less likely I will be to over compensate in some way and thereby stress other muscles unnecessarily.  I don’t know that a strong core will fix the issues with my hip (chances are very good that the two have nothing in common), but planking each day certainly isn’t going to hurt me.

It’s a long road ahead to get to my race day, but it’s an open road, and I intend to get there.  Besides, I should be glad that I’m figuring this out now instead of two weeks before race day!

Living Authentically…

Tagline

Today I was considering what it means to be human, to live, and the thing that continues to come back to me is that we are multidimensional.  Someone very important to me made this comment about a week ago, and I have been pondering it ever since.  I think one of the reasons I have always been reticent to start writing, especially in a blog format, is that I assumed that I had to pick a topic, a focus, the one thing that I could brand myself into, and to be perfectly honest, I didn’t want to limit myself.

I do agree that there should be some focus, for myself as a writer as much as for the audience that reads what’s here, but that does not mean I am limited.  It means redefining what my “focus” looks like in the context of this blog, re-framing my own paradigm.

Under my name, I have the tagline, “to live an authentic life, with intention”.  For me, living authentically is to acknowledge the multidimensional nature of who I am.  It is equally holding firmly onto who I am, and loosely to the ideas that shape my life.  It is being a creative person that loves to cook, a determined person that refuses to give up on a 30 day quest, a non-runner that comes up with an audacious running goal, a thoughtful person that desires an opportunity to challenge my own assumptions.  It is giving myself permission to continue to evolve as a human being while consistently remaining true to myself.

The part about living with intention is making a daily choice, sometimes a minute by minute choice, to engage.  That engagement could be in work, in life, in the conversations I have, or in the act of running.  I have to make space for what is important in my life, by choice.  It is being present in the moment, regardless of what that moment holds, mundane or exciting.  It is being here, now.

And in the now, I still choose the discipline of not eating cheese today, of putting on my running shoes, of writing, of listening….for all of those things are to live an authentic life, with intention….no regrets.

10 Down, 20 To Go

West African Chicken Stew

I’m one third of my way through my Whole 30 cleanse program, and here’s what I’ve learned so far.  First of all, I attribute my success so far to two things: preparing myself in mind and spirit before I started out, and setting aside time each week to organize and plan out my meals for that week.  By committing to the 30 days before I started, I’d already been internalizing the challenge and was ready to face it head on.  By doing some simple research, I knew some of the things to expect, especially in the first week, and that made it easier.  Knowing that I might experience headaches did not make the headache any less annoying, but I had a reason I could attribute the experience to.  To keep myself organized, I created my own very simple worksheet where I jot down ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as what I need to prep or get out of the freezer for the next day.   I also created a section to note what was still left over from the previous week, and any items I needed to get at the market.

Secondly, there are a ton of great resources, blogs, and other people out there also doing either Whole30 or just living the paleo lifestyle, and knowing that you’re not alone can be really encouraging.  I have become a fan of Nom Nom Paleo who shared her Whole30 experience day by day last year, journaling the food she ate each day.  The Whole9 site also has a ton of great resources including a clear shopping list of acceptable foods and ingredients for an omnivore like me.  (They also have a list for vegetarians!)  I also love the blog, The Clothes Make The Girl by Melissa Joulwan and her two cookbooks Well Fed and Well Fed 2.  Seriously, I would eat her recipes whether I was following paleo or not, and I love how she includes tips to tweak or dress up a dish to suit your taste du jour.

Thirdly, the discipline of sticking to this plan is hard…at first, and then it really does get easier.  I’m not going to lie.  I miss my cheese.  I miss having a glass of wine with dinner, but this doesn’t mean I’m not eating flavorful, interesting dishes; I am eating like a rock-star!  Case in point – last night, I made West African Chicken Stew from Well Fed 2.  It was both spicy and creamy, satisfying and delicious… it was everything that comfort food should be.  Melissa graciously allowed me to share her recipe here, and I recommend you try it at your earliest convenience.

West African Chicken Stew

Serves 2-4

Prep 15 min

Cook 70 min

Ingredients:

1/2 tablespoon coconut oil

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs

salt and ground black pepper

1/2 medium onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)

1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated (about 1 tablespoon) 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

1/2 tablespoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 bay leaf

1 cup canned crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup sunflower seed butter (no sugar added)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

garnish: minced fresh parsley leaves, sunflower seeds

Directions:

Sprinkle the chicken enthusiastically with salt and pepper.

Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes. Add coconut oil and allow it to melt. Add the chicken in a single layer and brown well on both sides, about 10 minutes. (Don’t crowd the pan; cook in batches if you need to.) Remove the chicken to a bowl to catch the juices.

In the same pot, cook the onions and ginger until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic, coriander, cayenne, and bay leaf, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and water, stirring to combine. Nestle the chicken into the sauce, along with any juices it released. Increase the heat to bring the pot to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 25 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pot; it will be very tender. Break the chicken into large pieces with the side of a wooden spoon. Add the sunflower seed butter and vanilla to the pot and mix to combine. Return the chicken to the pot and cover. Heat through, about 5 minutes, then serve, sprinkled with parsley and sunflower seeds.

 

Recipe courtesy of Melissa Joulwan, author of Well Fed, Well Fed 2, and the blog The Clothes Make The Girl. You can find more paleo recipes in her cookbooks and on her site.