2014 Goals + New Year’s Day Cuisine

Happy 2014 (a few days late)!

I know some people are vehemently against New Year’s resolutions, and I don’t totally understand that.  The first of January provides a great, if only symbolic chance to start fresh and dream about what life might look like in the coming year.  It’s as good a time as any to make a change, so why not?  Why wait for the sake of rebelling against the tradition?

At the beginning of January I like to set goals rather than make standard resolutions–they might be functionally the same, but goals seem more attainable and specific than resolutions, which I tend to think of as more vague concepts (“Put 20% of my paycheck into savings” rather than, “Save money.”)

Here are some of my goals for 2014:

1. Run 750 miles. I’ve never tallied my mileage over the course of an entire year, but at roughly two miles per day, this seems attainable.

2. Run a marathon.  This was on my list of 2013 goals, and it just didn’t happen (I did, however, run three races last year, which was another goal :)).  If I succeed at this, running 750 miles during the year should be no problem!

3. Perform one random act of kindness every week.  Preferably anonymously.

4. Write three highlights of every day.  I purchased a small planner that has room to write something for each day, and I plan to journal at least three high points daily.  I am already really looking forward to having the completed journal at the end of the year and being able to reflect on all the good times.

5. Cook dinner for other people once a month.  I love cooking.  I love sharing food with others.  Friends–come over for dinner, and let us love you by cooking you (hopefully) delicious food.  😀

So far I am off to a good start:  On New Year’s Day Andrew and I ran 3.5 miles (this was a big deal as Andrew does not enjoy running; half a mile in he said, “Are you ready for me to start complaining yet?” ;-)), I’ve written in my journal/planner each day, and Wednesday night our friends Amanda and Diron came over for a New Year’s Day dinner!  We made a rosemary-garlic pork tenderloin, baked apples, black-eyed peas, and collard greens & kale.  (I don’t think of myself as a typical Southern girl, but my family definitely has some Southern traditions when it comes to food.  We also eat oyster stew on Christmas morning.  Anyone else? :))  I forgot to take any pictures on NYD, but thankfully we had most of the leftovers for dinner last night, minus the pork which Andrew finished for lunch.  Here’s the modified leftovers meal:

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Collard greens & kale, baked apples with butter and brown sugar, black-eyed peas with tomatoes, and lemon-thyme chicken

Not a bad start to the year. 🙂

-What are your goals or resolutions for 2014?
-Does your family have any interesting food traditions around the holidays?

Fit Gifts

Amidst the eating-more-than-we-should and the working-out-less-than-we-should of Christmas week, Andrew and I received (and gave) a few gifts that will help us be a little more fit as we get back to our routines.  The best fit gifts under our tree this year:

1. Running Clothes

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Please, don’t be intimidated by how tough I look. 😉  My mom, a fellow runner, gave me some awesome new gear this year!  The top is Under Armor and looks white in the photo, but is actually that cool pattern above on the right.  The leggings are Nike, and they are perfect. 🙂  I don’t know about you, but I find new running gear to be so motivating!  I couldn’t wait to put them on and run yesterday!

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Additionally, my aunt Ann gave me this great running top.  I am looking forward to taking it on its debut run!

2. Extra Long Yoga Mat (for the giant)

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Andrew and I have been taking a yoga class pretty faithfully for almost a year, but we had yet to purchase our own mats.  The standard-sized mats we borrow at the gym are fine for me, but at 6’4 Andrew hangs off the top and the bottom.  For Christmas this year I bought him an extra long yoga mat.  With 7 feet of mat, both his head and feet are cushioned. 🙂  I waited until after Christmas to buy a mat for myself (the gray one pictured above) because I thought Andrew might give me one.  He didn’t;  instead, he gave me a…

3. Fitbit Flex

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I have been absolutely geeking out about this thing since the moment I opened it.  For those who aren’t familiar, a Fitbit is a wrist band that tracks your steps, distance, calories burned, active minutes, hours slept, sleep quality, and more.  In other words, a health nut’s dream come true.

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I’ve been having so much fun with it.  It’s a great visual reminder to get up and move;  over Christmas, when we were doing a lot of sitting around, it was convicting to see how far I was from the recommended 10,000 steps a day.  It motivated me to go out and take a walk. 🙂

The sleep features are really cool too.  You tap the band a few times when you lie down to sleep, and then again when you wake up in the morning, and it tracks your sleep patterns.

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In related news, I sleep like a champ. 🙂  See how there’s no pink (awake) at the beginning of the night?  Yes, I actually fall asleep that fast.

Fitbit also gives you the option to set weight loss goals and record the food you eat.  It tracks how many calories you’ve eaten and tells you how many you have left based on your goals.  All around, it’s an awesome gadget

With these tools, we are on our way to a healthy 2014!

-What fit gifts did you receive or give this year?
-Do you have a Fitbit?  Are you as obsessed with it as I am?

Current Fitness Routine + The Funniest Running Photo I’ve Ever Accidentally Taken

During the month of November, between the leftover Halloween candy and Thanksgiving treats, I hit the sweets pretty hard, was a little slack on my workouts, and by the end of the month felt pretty blah.  At the beginning of December I recommitted to working out most days of the week and treating sweets as treats rather than something to be eaten whenever I feel like it.  Already I’m feeling better!

In terms of working out, I have been on a roll this month.  Despite the cold, I have been hitting the pavement running like a champ–yes, I am feeling quite proud of myself. 🙂

 

running1Frosty grass calls for fleece-lined spandex.

Here’s what the last week looked like for me in terms of fitness:

Saturday:  Kickboxing video
Sunday:  Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred
Monday:  Run-40 minutes, easy
Tuesday:  30-Day Shred
Wednesday:  Run-30 minutes, intervals + walk- 60 minutes
Thursday: 30-Day Shred + walk- 15 minutes
Friday:  Run- 45 minutes

Jillian’s 30-Day Shred is tough–for those who don’t know, it’s a circuit-style exercise DVD that combines strength with cardio–but it’s not kicking my butt like the last two times I did it.  I take that as a sign that I am more in shape these days! 🙂

jillian2I do love being able to workout in my living room with the blinds closed 😀

On Wednesday morning I took a really funny photo by accident.  Running friends, you may understand what I am about to explain.  Or perhaps I will just sound vain or weird. 😉 Sometimes when I am running in the morning, when the sun is low, and I pass a solid fence, I think, “Wow, my shadow looks cool.  I wish I had a photo of that!”  On Wednesday this happened, and I decided to pull out my phone and try to get the shot.  However, by the time I took off my gloves and opened the camera, the terrain had changed a little bit, so there was a small hill leading up to the fence.  Here’s the result:

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Bahahaha.  My bottom half is on the hill in the foreground, and my upper half is on the fence, making it look like I have the tiniest waist and the biggest booty ever.  And with the tree, I look like I’m holding a gun.  I was really amused. 😀

And finally, because I like food and like posting pictures of food, here’s what we had for dinner last night:

rosemarychickenRosemary balsamic chicken, roasted Brussels sprouts, and quinoa.  Yum. 🙂

Have a great Friday, everyone!

-What does your weekly workout schedule look like currently?
-Have you ever taken a photo of your shadow while running (or wanted to)?

Less Meat Monday: Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos {with Chicken}

“Less Meat Monday” admittedly doesn’t have quite the same ring as “Meatless Monday“, but it’s a huge step for some members of this household (read: Andrew :)).  Last week he acknowledged that he should probably be eating a little less meat and a little more fiber for his overall health, and he gave me the green light to try some new dinner recipes in which meat is not the star.

Naturally, I was thrilled—as Andrew puts it, I always have one foot firmly in the vegetarian camp.  Now, we are not going vegetarian, but I am planning to make Mondays “Less Meat Mondays”, and try new recipes in which I can cut the amount of meat significantly with beans, lentils, or some other form of plant protein.

Here’s what was on the table last night:

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tacos {with Chicken}

2 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
½ lb chicken, cooked and shredded*
2 medium sweet potatoes
½-1 c salsa
olive oil
chili powder
cumin
salt & pepper
mixed greens
lime
cilantro
goat cheese
corn tortillas

1. Preheat oven to 400°.  Chop sweet potatoes into ½-inch cubes.  Put in bowl, and toss with olive oil, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.  2. Spread sweet potatoes on a pan, and place in oven for 30 minutes, stirring/flipping halfway through.  3.  While the potatoes are cooking, combine beans, chicken, and salsa in a pot, and heat on low.  4.  When potatoes are done and beans are hot, place in tortillas with greens, cilantro, lime juice, goat cheese, and/or whatever sounds good :).

(*I actually cooked the chicken in a skillet as soon as I put the potatoes in the oven;  there’s plenty of time to do this and heat the beans, but if you have leftover chicken you want to use, this is a great way to do it!)

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The tacos were a hit!  Andrew said he did not miss the extra meat—typically we use 1- 1 1/2lb of meat for any given dinner, which will last us two nights, so only using 1/2lb of chicken was a significant drop for us.  You can also leave out the chicken entirely, and I doubt you’d miss it.

Happy eating to all! 🙂

-Do you observe Meatless Monday?
-Any recommendations for high-protein, meatless (or less-meat) dinners that I could try in the coming weeks??

Trail Running + Hiking

For a girl who loves the great outdoors, this has been an excellent week.

I recently started trail-running with a friend Andrew and I met through Ultimate Frisbee, and we met this week for a river run.

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It’s tough to have a bad workout when that’s your scenery!

On Tuesday (my day off), my friend Kate and I drove to the mountains for a hike.  We started with the hike I did a few weeks ago–Humpback Rocks–but when we reached the Appalachian Trail, we walked south rather than north and discovered a few new-to-us overlooks.

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Gorgeous, right?  We hiked about six miles total, including some serious uphills!  My glutes were a tad sore the next day.

There’s just something about the mountains–and being outside in general–that is good for my soul. No matter how grueling the workout, when there’s beautiful scenery involved, I always walk back inside feeling rejuvenated.

Have a great Sunday!

Did you get outside at all this week or workout in any beautiful places?

Holiday Season Wellness Goals

Confession:  I’ve been hitting the leftover Halloween candy pretty hard this week.

As we move into the holiday season, where the sweets become even more abundant and most of the vegetables are cooked in cream-of-something soup, I’ve decided to set a few goals to stay focused, healthy, and feeling well.  Now, I’m a firm believer that wellness is the sum of the good stuff we do for ourselves rather than the absence of the bad stuff.  Along the same lines, I also believe in not depriving yourself if you really want something!  The following popped up on my Facebook news feed a couple nights ago, and I laughed and felt disgusted at the same time:

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Really, Health.com?  That’s the saddest little dessert I’ve ever seen.  That’s a garnish for a dessert, in fact.  There’s no way, if someone were craving pineapple upside-down cake, that that would satisfy the craving.  I commented, “#notdessert”.  😀

But I digress.

 Therefore, my wellness goals for the holiday season are cumulative and non deprivation-based.  If you count yesterday (when I intended to write this post) and Christmas day, there are 50 days until Christmas!  

Goals

That means that I am aiming for an average of 6 servings of produce, 30 minutes of exercise, and just one dessert daily (my dessert goal is to not exceed 5o servings.)  The beauty of the cumulative goals is that they allow flexibility:  Run for an hour one day?  Take a rest day.  Enjoy a few desserts on Thanksgiving?  Forego a sweet somewhere else in the week.  A few days of poor eating here and there won’t wreck a person; these goals will help me make sure a few days don’t turn into the whole holiday season. 🙂

After day one, these are my stats:
-Fruits & Veggies: 6
-Exercise: 1 hour
-Desserts: 1

Be good to yourselves, friends!  And for the love of all things delicious, please don’t ever eat a pineapple garnish for dessert.

Do you have any wellness goals for the holiday season?
What would you add to my three categories?

Do Not Worry

The events of my life yesterday are such that I could not write them as fiction if I tried.  Here’s how my Wednesday unfolded:

I had a 10:15 AM appointment with a cardiologist.  The back story:  I finally heard back from my doctor on Monday evening about the heart palpitations I’ve been having; she was unsure what was going on with my heart and referred me to a cardiologist.  Also Monday, my Wednesday morning staff meeting was cancelled.  On Tuesday morning I called the cardiologist to make an appointment.  While checking for openings, the receptionist said, “Wow, this never happens. Is there any chance you can come in tomorrow (Wednesday) morning?  Our next available appointment is in about a month.”  Why, yes…yes I can!

So yesterday morning I  got ready for the day and left the house with enough time to stop for gas on the way to my appointment.  As I was driving out of my neighborhood I realized I’d accidentally left about 15 minutes before I intended. (Who does that?)  I felt a little annoyed with myself, knowing I’d just be waiting an extra long time in the waiting room.  I stopped at the gas station, filled up the tank, sat back in the car, turned the key in the ignition, and… nothing.  Well, nothing except a gritty clicking noise.  Dang it.

The gas station attendant did not have jumper cables or a car (he’d walked from home) but was so kind and started walking around asking other customers if they could help.  One woman had the cables and was willing to help start my car.  Over the course of the next few minutes, I discovered that the gas station attendant was the father-in-law of a friend from church, and the woman with the jumper cables sends her kids to the camp where I worked in college, and we have mutual friends here in town.  My car started, I thanked the folks who were willing to help me on a rainy morning, and I was headed toward the cardiologist with the exact amount of time I’d intended to give myself.

I started laughing and thanked God as I drove–there’s no way that series of events was anything short of divine intervention.  My schedule that morning had cleared, there was a random, rare opening with the cardiologist, I accidentally gave myself extra time, and when my car broke down, there were kind folks to whom I was already connected willing to help.  I was meant to be at that appointment.

When I pulled up at the doctor’s office, I turned off my car, then attempted to start it again–just to see what I was going to be dealing with post-appointment.  Nothing but that lovely dead-battery noise.  Excellent.  I texted my friend and coworker Evan, who lives around the corner (and was home because our staff meeting had been cancelled), and he said he could jump my car after the appointment.

When I was finally in the examination room, the nurse took my blood pressure.

“114/55… looks good.”

“I’m surprised it isn’t higher; my car died on the way here this morning, and I’m a little worked up!”

“Oh no!  Then you’re doing REALLY good!”

😀

I spent the most time with the nurse practitioner, who was great and explained everything so well to me–basically I’m having a few extra heartbeats throughout the day, but because my heart rhythm looks normal, I’m at a healthy weight, active, and have no risk factors, I have nothing to worry about.  Stress, rather than a problem with my heart, is causing the palpitations.  Bottom line:  I just need to learn to relax.

No problem.  Now let me go jump start my car for the second time today.  😉  Evan graciously drove over to help (thanks, Evan!), and I headed for my regular car shop.

I left the car running and walked inside.

“Hey, as soon as I turn off my car, it’s going to die.  You guys do battery stuff, right?”

“We do.  You can pull it into the garage!”

I pulled it in and walked back inside the office to give the man my car key.

“What’s your plan–are you going to wait or is someone picking you up?”

“Umm… I didn’t really have a plan.  My plan was to jump start the car and immediately take it somewhere it could be fixed.  This is as far as the plan went.  How long do you think it will take?”

“Well, we are all about to go to lunch, so we can’t look at it right now.  I can call you when it’s ready though.”

Learn to relax.  Learn to relax.  Learn to relax.

I thanked him, then walked out the door and down the street to Barnes & Noble, where I bought a magazine and a sandwich and settled in for an indefinite amount of time.  Within an hour they called to tell me I needed a new battery, and they could have it done in twenty minutes.

The hilarious irony of the situation is not lost on me–that my car breaks down on both ends of an appointment where I’m told that I am so stressed that I’m giving myself heart palpitations.  And yet, in what is a notoriously stressful situation, God provided richly before I even knew to ask.  Everything worked out, no thanks to me worrying about how it might be resolved.

It brings to mind a passage from the book of Matthew (chapter 6), which I’ll share for anyone who’s interested or needs the same reminder today:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the the birds of the air;  they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?…So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or “What shall we wear?’…your heavenly Father knows that you need these things.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

I will be meditating on this passage daily for a while (until my heart chills outs, and then probably a bit longer :)) as part of my plan to de-stress, which I’ll outline tomorrow.

In the meantime, do not worry, my friends!

Autumn River Run + Crock-Pot Pho

Yesterday was one of those ridiculously beautiful autumn days, and I decided to skipped my morning run in favor of an afternoon run by the river near my office.

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As you can see from the photos, it ended up being a fantastic decision. 😀  I love the soft trails with the crunch of the fallen leaves underfoot, the sights, the tranquility, and (near) solitude.  I paid no attention to speed or distance, but rather just ran because it felt good.  It was an awesome way to break up the work day.

<Sigh>

On a completely different subject, we made Vietnamese Pho in our Crock-Pot Sunday, and I am really excited about having the leftovers tonight for Stewsday!  The food I desire most when it’s cold and I am lazy/tired/sick/(or not) is noodles and broth.  Not chicken noodle soup, not vegetable noodle soup–noodles + broth.  I love it.  When Andrew suggested making a large batch of noodles and broth, I simply couldn’t say no.  (Yeah, there’s some chicken and vegetables in there too, and I muscled them down for good measure. ;-))

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The recipe was easy and probably didn’t actually require the Crock-Pot.  We put 2 quarts of chicken broth + a pound(ish) of cooked, shredded chicken in the pot on high.  After a few hours, when we were close to being ready to eat, we added a box of brown rice noodles, bean sprouts, a sliced jalepeno, sliced mushrooms, chopped basil, cilantro, and lime juice.  As soon as the noodles are soft, the pho is ready.  It was, pho real, a delicious batch of soup. 😉

Enjoy the lovely fall weather and all the delicious foods that go with it today!

Do you prefer running on trails or on the road?
Have you ever tried and/or made pho?

Hiking: Humpback Rocks + Dobie Mountain

Hiking is good for my soul.  Apparently it’s good for my heart as well, because we hit the mountains Saturday, and I didn’t have a single heart palpitation all day.  Nature for the win!

Andrew and I went with our friends Evan and Kristina;  Evan is one of my coworkers, and we’d been talking about all going hiking together for a while.  It was great to finally make it happen!  Kristina’s sister and her boyfriend drove up from Virginia Tech and met us at Humpback Rocks.

This hike, which is one of our favorites because of the awesome views and close proximity to home, is always steeper than I remember.  There was very little conversation happening for the first 15 minutes or so :-D.  The ascent to the overlook is only one mile though, so before long we were looking at this:

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After we reached this overlook, we decided to continue hiking–the trail meets up with the Appalachian Trail pretty quickly.  Humpback Rocks shares a parking lot with another hike we’ve done recently–Dobie Mountain–and the two are connected by the AT.  Now, we had never done the combined hike and weren’t sure exactly how many miles of AT stretched between the two, but the group decided to give it a try.

This section of the AT (going north) was beautiful–mostly downhill, lots of pretty leaves, and lots of switchbacks.  So many switchbacks… none of which were visible on Google maps (yes, the AT is on there!), so when we’d been hiking for 15 minutes and I said, “We’re just about a mile away from the next overlook,” I was very wrong.  About an hour later, we were…one mile from the overlook.  My bad, guys. 🙂  Eventually we made it, and it was worth the extra miles:

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The whole gang

By the time we made it out of the woods, I think we’d hiked about six miles.  Not too shabby!

Hiking just makes me feel alive, and as I previously mentioned, it seemed to quiet the frequent heart palpitations I’ve been having lately.  Plus, we had great company this weekend, which made the day even greater!

Where have you hiked lately?
What was the highlight of your weekend? 

Late Wedding Photos + This Week Randomness

This week has been a bit hectic, so I haven’t had much time to blog.    Here’s a quick recap of our week, as told mostly by the photos on my phone:

1.

Jenny1Andrew’s sister, Jenny, is in town from Denver this week, and it’s been so great to spend time with her!!  In the photo above, Andrew is giving her the extensive tour of our garden.  We’ve also been able to do dinner a few nights, and we convinced her to come to yoga with us last night. 😀  We love you, Jenny!

2.

datenightdinner

For date night dinner Saturday we opted for (mostly) convenience– Applegate Farms chicken tenders (GF nuggets for Andrew), Alexia spicy sweet potato fries, and roasted beets.  Mmm.  I love to cook, but sometimes you just need to pull a box out of the freezer.

3.

heart monitor

I’ve been having weird heart palpitations the last few weeks, so I went to the doctor on Tuesday to get it checked out.  It’s probably nothing serious, but they hooked me up to this lovely heart monitor (there are five more electrodes stuck to me in places you can’t see…all I can say is, “TGISS”–thank God it’s scarf season. ;-)) I had to wear it for 24 hours and record when the palpitations occurred and very specifically what I was doing.  How did my dear, loving Andrew respond to this?  He tried to do as many weird things as possible so that if a palpitation occurred I’d have to record, “Having my face licked,” or “Watching my husband dance with a shirt tied around his head.”  (He did not succeed, so I did not have to write anything weird :-D).  Anyway, I should get the results within a week, but, again, I’m not super worried, so you shouldn’t be either (I’m talking to you, Daddy ;-)).

4.

 bobcat goat1

If you read this blog regularly, you probably know that I love goats and that there is this beautiful park in Richmond (Maymont) that has goats and other animals.  My friend Kate and I walked there yesterday for exercise and to enjoy the fantastic fall weather.  In addition to the goats, we were able to see the bobcat, which I had never seen there before!  It usually stays in the indoor part of its habitat.  Very cool. 🙂

Kate took our late bridal/wedding photos a few weeks ago, and she gave me the disc with all the photos yesterday when we got together.  They. Look. Awesome.  Here are some of my favorites (sorry in advance for the photo overload) :

Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey  Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey

Catherine & Andrew Storey

Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey   Catherine & Andrew Storey  Catherine & Andrew Storey

A huge thanks to our friend Katie for giving us this photo shoot as our wedding gift, and thanks to Kate for being so talented and working with us!  After doing this, I think everyone should take after-the-fact wedding photos–no wedding day stress, no rush to get to the reception so guests aren’t waiting, a chance to put that dress back on… 🙂  Yeah, we waited a while to actually take them, but we don’t look that different from our wedding day, and I know ten years from now we won’t be able to notice the 1.5 year age difference.

You can check out more of Kate’s work here.

That’s been our week (so far) in a nutshell.  Have a great Thursday!

-Has anyone else taken late bridal portraits/wedding photos?
-Heart palpitations: have you ever experienced them?  Were they anything serious?