Answers to common crockpot questions

If you know me, you know I love my crockpot. It has been a lifesaver!! I’m actually on my second one (yikes) after using our last one to death.  Because I talk about it often, I get asked a lot of questions. Here are the most common ones…

What kind do you use?

When I bought my first crockpot, I just grabbed one at the store. Little did I know how lucky I was. It was a 6 qt, programmable Crock-Pot. I love being able to set it and forget it! I’m almost never home when it needs to turn off.

When it died, I ran to the store and discovered they didn’t have any programmable ones available. I knew this feature was non-negotiable.

I found a newer version of my old one on Amazon and snagged it (I chose Amazon because I had a gift card – I’m sure any online retailer has it too). The best thing I did was keep my old insert for back-up. This way I can use it back to back days and not stress about cleaning it (I like to let it soak).

Is it really easy?

For me, personally, the idea of the crockpot is all about ease! I pick simple recipes that not only don’t have a lot of ingredients but not a lot of prep work either. It’s often thrown together on the run.

After using the crockpot for a while I discovered New Leaf Wellness and learned how to freeze meals ahead of time. This was great for me as the one thing that slows me down is having not defrosted the meat. I also learned you can use frozen meat just add 30 minutes on high or 60 minutes on low (seriously a game changer for me).

Is it only for winter?

Nope! While there are many fun comfort foods like chilis, pasta bakes and soups there are a variety of lighter options. I often throw a jar of salsa or barbecue sauce over chicken breasts (cook on high for 3 hrs) and use the shredded meat in the summer.

Where do you find recipes?

My first crockpot cook book was Betty Crocker’s Slow Cooker cookbook and it’s still my favorite. There are many easy, family friendly recipes. Of course, I LOVE Pinterest! I even have a board dedicated to crockpot recipes. As always, I look for easy!

Do you use a crockpot ?  What are your go-tos?  Have a question I didn’t answer?  Leave it in the comments 🙂

Want to find out when Susan Fishback Health and Wellness launches?  You can join my email list here!

Letting go of Fear

Like many people, I enjoy the safe route! I’m a big over thinker and often leave it in my head. There are times I don’t want to run for fear of being judged or post about food for fear of someone disagreeing with what works for me.

I have been working hard behind the scenes to launch a nutrition coaching business along with postnatal fitness. The idea part is easy, it’s the doing it that’s hard. As I sat down today to write a post from my list of ideas I found myself questioning writing anything at all. I reminded myself that I have a lot of knowledge and experience that I want to share.  

Yesterday, I sucked it up and worked out in the weight room. For some reason, I had been hesitant about it. The irony being, I’ve worked out forever and even in weight rooms with a variety of people. As I hit my groove, I remembered how much I love it.

I do enjoy the hard, pushing through the last set of reps and feeling like I can conquer the world. Yes, I was working with lighter weights than in the past, but that’s ok. Today, I will be running intervals on the treadmill. I love running with friends and chatting, but I also like the super sweaty runs when I push myself.

It’s so easy at this time of year to let busy reinforce fear and keep us from moving forward. As crazy as it seems, I am committing to working hard and getting out of my head! I can’t wait to launch Susan Fishback Health and Wellness in 2017 and share my knowledge. It’s time to trust myself and take the leap!

What holds you back?

Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures: A Call to Action!

Thanks to BOKS I recently attended the Massachusetts PTA Health Summit in Gardner, MA. I jumped at the opportunity to spend the day with people trying to help kids and families lead healthy lifestyles.

The day wasn’t spent only talking about the virtues of vegetables, but how to help children be mentally and emotionally healthy.

Ayanna Presley, Council woman-at-large, Boston, started the day with an amazing speech about the necessity of healthy children. She highlighted the importance of the school nurse in her own experience as a child; and spoke about how trauma doesn’t care about race or class, children from all walks of life can experience trauma and it is imperative to help the whole child. I feel I can’t do her justice, if you have the opportunity to hear her speak, please do!

After a few more speakers, we had a BOKS break. Laura did a great job getting everyone moving and laughing while throwing scarves in the air! Not only fun, but a great ice breaker 🙂

We moved along to break out sessions. I selected “Move to Improve: Quality Health and Physical Education Programs for Your Child IS a Necessity to Learning!” and “Fueling the Future: Giving Children the Nutrition They Need to Learn & Grow”.

The first session was run by Maria Melchionda and Claudia Brown from MAPHERD. Maria spoke about physical education being required in Massachusetts, yet there is no minimum amount of time or follow-up from the department of education. She also broke down how physical education is changing in schools. This isn’t our old gym class ;). 

Most programs are focusing on teaching students about lifelong fitness. Giving them skills they can use all through adulthood. Only 30-40% of students participate in organized sports in middle school and a mere 5% play team sports after the age of 26. It is crucial to provide all youth the opportunity to find activities they like and can carry with them in the future.

Claudia focused on health classes and again how they are changing from what we experienced in school. She pointed out that it’s not as imperative to know the ingredients of cigarettes but to not smoke and having the skills to say no. This backs up a lot of what I’ve read as a parent. We tell our children to say no, but don’t give them the tools to successfully say no in the face of peer pressure. Health classes are again focusing on the whole person.

I will go into more depth in a future post about this great session and how I see it as a parent 🙂

My next session with Erin Wholey from the New England Dairy & Food Council spoke about nutrition in schools and mostly about breakfast. I was shocked to hear only 45% of children on reduced/free lunch eat breakfast at school and this number is a dramatic improvement. While some may be eating at home, many don’t have time at school or fear the stigma as they get older. Some solutions have been breakfast in the classroom or grab-n-go breakfast carts. The NEDC offers grants to schools along with Fuel Up to Play 60 to help with start-up costs associated with implementing these programs.

Erin also spoke about My Plate and the many resources that can be found at I found it interesting when she said most children (if not all) know about My Plate while many parents don’t know about it.

After the sessions we had lunch and I enjoyed talking with the BOKS team and Maria and Claudia from MAPHERD. We chatted about the struggles of getting more pro-active physical programs at schools. Everyone agreed there has been great progress albeit slower than we may want.

A huge take home for me was how many resources are out there and not taken advantage of. There are many grants available for schools along with wonderful websites geared to help families. Like everything, it is about finding time to seek out the information and put it into use.

The more I learn ~ the less I know

I have been teaching group fitness classes for years and am always reading up on the science behind exercises, aging, and everything in-between. The more I learn and experience working with different populations, the more I realize I don’t know. Of course, I know much more than when I began, but knowledge is a moving target.

This summer I decided to leave a toxic work environment and as a result left behind a beloved group of students. I took some time to really think about my next step and decided to continue increasing my knowledge. My classes have remained at other gyms and I offer private/small group training. With this being said, I think it’s time to up the ante.

I am currently working on a nutrition certificate through PrecisionNutrition and a certificate for post-natal fitness through Jessie Mundell. My hope is to take this knowledge along with my experience and offer more personal training in person and online.

Over the next few months as I study away, I will be working more online and through the finer details of my plan. Hopefully, blog posts will become more consistent and include my running, but also tips and tools I use around here.

Change is hard but also invigorating! I have been excited to sit down and study, watch videos and collaborate with other fitness professionals. I am excited for the future and new endeavors 🙂

Feel free to comment here or email me with any questions

Harwich Cranberry Harvest 10k ~ Recap

It’s funny how you can get through a beach filled summer and never, not even once, think about a 10k on October 2nd. It’s all the way in October, clearly I can get back on track come September – ha, not a good approach ;). That being said, I did take preparations seriously in September. I didn’t skip out on meeting up with friends and would at least walk the hills in my neighborhood when I could.

Because four weeks isn’t enough time for full preparation, I found the 2 minute running – 1 minute walking method. I tried it out in the 5k the week before the 10k and felt as ready as I could be on race day.

The hardest part of the 2/1 method is to be disciplined at the beginning and walk that early in! It was a mental battle, but I did it. The struggle continued as I passed a variety of high school cross-country kids helping along the course. I felt like I was always walking by the kids. They were cute and yelled “you’ve got this miss!” One pair even let me know they believed in everyone on the course and that we’re all doing great! Pretty cute coming from 14 year old boys – made me chuckle as I continued with my plan. I even saw a few kids we know, making it more fun!

On the plus side, my walking often coincided with uphill sections and water. Before the race I had decided I was going to stick to the times regardless of the hills. It totally worked! 

I ran without music and just kept track of the time. The course was pretty and the road is closed allowing for a peaceful run. Overall, my legs felt great. I kept telling myself “you can do anything for two minutes” and as I came into the last mile and a half, I was passing people. This definitely helped with my motivation. The next thing I knew – I had finished well under my goal!

It was almost 5 minutes slower than the race in February (when I had actually trained) and faster than the race in May. I maintained my pace pretty well and sped up through miles 4 and 5. I felt faster at the end and was happy to see I was right. I didn’t finish thinking I could have given any more.

Not only did I finish strong, but I completed the trilogy! While completing the 10k trilogy was difficult, my friend completed the half marathon trilogy!! The way the races worked out, she started half an hour later than us and we were on our own. My husband and I were able to stay and see her finish. While waiting, we saw one of my friends from high school (who ran her first half marathon) come in a few minutes earlier. It was truly a great day!!

CHiPS 10k+ Recap ~ only 4 months later

 Right after this race, I went away with my husband and came home to the end of school year joys and completely forgot to write a recap. As our latest race got closer I thought I would simply combine the recaps into one post, but they were such different experiences, I decided to write them separately!

Some of the specifics of this race have faded into the background. I had to look up my pace and the temperature, details that aren’t important anymore. What I do remember vividly is the feeling I had while running and after!

  My friends were running the half and we came up with a plan to pace ourselves steady and slow from the beginning. I decided I would take pictures along the way and just enjoy the course.

We chatted the entire time and the miles seemed to cruise right by. I remember distinctly thinking how are we already to mile 5? It just felt good and fun to be with my running friends. Eventually we parted ways as they continued along and I turned back towards the finish.

  One detail I remember very clearly is the distance of the race! A few days before the event, an email was sent explaining that the cute little plus was a whole mile ~ eek! I had never run 7 miles before. It wasn’t even on my radar.

I knew my legs would carry me through and they did. I had finally reached a point in my training that allowed for extra distance without too much thought. How could I just tack on an extra mile? Seems crazy to me even now!

The day was a great success and I was very happy with the whole experience!

Live Like Renee 5k Recap

Funny story, while I haven’t been blogging, I also haven’t been running. Coincidence, I think not ;). I did run a 10k+ at the end of May and I will be sharing about that race in a later post.

Since I last wrote, I have simply been busy being a mom and getting in what I can. With school back in session and a 10k on Sunday, I’ve been trying to get back in the swing of things while not getting discouraged.

While I’m not in the same running shape as I was in the past, it is my lack of mental strength that is the most frustrating! Like all muscles, it is slowly coming along and has taken a little tough love; but improvement is improvement.

This next race is the third part of a trilogy and would probably not be happening if I weren’t a crazy person. You can’t run 2 out of 3 – that’s just silly!

While trying to win the mental battle and find miles at any cost, I decided to sign the boys and I up for a local, charity 5k (my husband was traveling for business). The course is beautiful and one I run often, so it seemed like a good idea.

While my friends and I have been trying to figure out how in the world we are going to run our distances next weekend, we brought it back to basics and the reliable run/walk method. Right where I started with the run for 2 minutes, walk for 1 minute system from Jeff Galloway.

I figured I would apply the method to the 5k and see how it felt. Our youngest wound up spectating as his asthma was acting up, but the oldest and I went to the starting line feeling a little underprepared.

The oldest bolted from the start and I set into my 2/1 system right away. It worked like a charm. Not only did it keep me in a good routine, but the time flew! I wasn’t thinking about anything other than counting down to the next walk/run interval. In the end, I finished with an 11 minute pace all the way through. Certainly not speedy, but not that far off from my usual time. 

 Our oldest was a little disappointed with his time (29:34 – still 5 minutes ahead of me) as he went out too fast, but he was happy to have done it and wants to train more in the future.

Sometimes I can’t believe that I can go out and tackle a 5k without a lot of preparation. Struggling through my first mile seems like yesterday and a million years ago at once. 

The running bug is coming back strong! My legs are feeling pretty good and I love running with my friends! Of course, we’ll see how next week goes – yikes!