January 2, 2014
Ah. The obligatory – “NEW YEAR NEW ME!” post. In all honesty – these are some of my favorite posts to read that are written by others and some of my favorite to write. I’m a New Years Resolution junkie and am constantly bugging my friends and family with “whatcha gonna change? How are you going to change it? Huh huh huh??” – so here goes.
2013 was a tricky one for me, it took a lot from me and my family. So, I’ve decided that 2014 is my year.
In the spirit of rising to the challenge, I went to town on resolutions for myself, but since this is a lengthy post as it is – I’ve decided to break down the resolutions over the next week or so, hopefully interspersed with legit posts to get back on track. So lets start with list number 1: probably the easiest and most relevant to this blog. Fitness resolutions.
1. Be active each day. Whether or not its a scheduled day of training or just getting out for a long walk, doing yoga or a hike – I want to feel like I’ve moved each day.
2. Be committed to lifting. This year I re-discovered my love for traditional weight training and I started to put some efforts into creating an at home gym that I could workout in, in lieu of a gym membership. I slacked off a bit over the holidays and worked through some confusion of how to eat and train in order to get the kind of body I want. Its a work in progress and although I have a sneaking suspicion I used it as a coping mechanism this summer, I really do enjoy lifting and have great respect for female lifters.
3. Run 5 miles a week – that’s 260 miles in a year. A few years back, I opted to train for races as my goals and did fairly well. Last year, I didn’t sign up for any races and my running dropped significantly. This year, I’m trying a new to me tactic that I’ve seen floating around before, which is set a weekly mileage goal. Its a concrete goal that I can work for, without having something to train for specifically. I’ve kept my goal fairly small (cough cough: attainable and maintainable cough cough:), because I know my mind’s ability to overwhelm itself when I’m thinking about too stressful of a goal. And since I have a hard time admitting that a few miles and not 3-4-5 miles is worth the time, I’m trying to remember that its not how I get to the goal, but that I achieve it. In preparation for this, I bought myself some fancy new kicks to start it off right.
4. Put at least 20 miles on the bike a month – that’s 240 miles in a year.. We have bikes. Mine is my baby. We have not explored the trails nearly enough to make its purchase worthwhile. Biking is something my husband and I both truly enjoy, both by ourselves and with friends. So this year, in an effort to get out on the bikes more, I’ve set a monthly mileage goal. Anyone who’s hopped on a bike, know that its definitely not a difficult goal to meet and I have big plans of crushing this mileage goal. But at the very least it’ll get us out for a weekend ride 1-2 times a month and that’s really what is most important.
5. Incorporate Yoga and Insanity into weekly workouts. I have a tendency to have tunnel vision when it comes to my “training”. If I’m weight training, then I absolutely cannot replace a lifting day with a cardio day or yoga day, etc. I also have a really hard time saying “OK well, Wednesdays are Yoga only”, because whether I’m lifting or running, its hard for me to give up a day of training, period. But I enjoy yoga, and damn it Insanity was expensive. So as a tie in to goal number 1 – I’d like to include more flexibility to my fitness routine, which will go a long way for making it a lifestyle habit, rather than a training for a specific goal habit.
So far – its been only a day since yesterday, so I haven’t really gotten a chance to put these resolutions into practice, although I got a head start on a few and lifted at home on Monday and Tuesday, which while not a lot – was better than nothing. I have plans to get in a workout tonight and am thinking that an easy little run is in order. I’ve got some shiny new Nike Frees and 5 miles to get in by Sunday, eh?
So there you have it, my fitness resolutions (give or take a few). I tried to keep them concrete and obtainable, which I think is so incredibly important for tracking progress. I’ve got a hefty list of other resolutions that include personal, foodie and work related ideas, but they can wait for another day.
I hope everyone had a wonderful set of holidays and that they stayed relatively healthy :) and here’s to 2014.
December 10, 2013
Oh last Friday…Also known as:
That random day where I had the genius idea to throw every leftover veggie and container of cooked rice into the crock pot as a surprise, leave for work in the drizzle and come home in a cold wet down pour to an “extra two points” from the Hubs because our house smelled like a delicious warm bowl of soup that was ready to eat. And when I say that, I mean, with huge hunks of fresh baguette smeared in earth balance, duh.
That, my friends – is the magic of a crock pot.
This soup was seriously delicious, it absolutely hit the spot. We had been craving a veggie soup since the explosion of food that is otherwise known as Thanksgiving week. I normally use two big cans of diced tomatoes, but this time around I switched out one of those cans for a can of crushed tomatoes. The switch added a little more tomatoey depth (technical term folks, use it) to the soup and with that change plus the leftover rice from the night before, the soup really thickened up into almost a stew, especially with the meaty cremini mushrooms thrown in. More magic? I was feeling pretty lazy when I threw the soup together in morning, so the mushrooms only got cut in half, the celery, squash and zucc were chopped REALLY thick, tore up the green beans with an “eh…that looks about even” form of measurement and didn’t even bother to take knife to the baby carrots – in they go!. A can of corn with its liquid and a few bay leaves, a healthy dose of cumin, garlic powder and black pepper and I was done. Honestly – no recipe. Just went with what I had and it turned out perfect. We froze a bunch for another cold night and had the leftovers for our snow day on Sunday and it tasted just as good. There’s just something about soup that makes you want to curl up in thick cozy socks and be warm and comfortable, especially after a cold wintry day.
We have another snow day today and so I’m hanging out at home. While the adult in me is really frustrated that I can’t get into work and get some things done (when did THAT happen?), I’m trying really hard to embrace the extra day I’ve been given to get some other things done too. I have a few things I can do to work from home, so I am grateful for that – and I now have a few more hours in the day to get some presents wrapped, the rest of the decorations up, an early workout in and some more cookies baked. I’ve got my best gal friends on speed dial (text?) to keep me company and a mug with my name on it. Plus, it really is hard to waste so much energy being frustrated, when something is so beautiful and we are safe and warm enough to enjoy it.
And another perfect day for another perfect bowl of soup. I’m thinking this recipe:
Wherever you are, I hope you are warm and safe and dry!
And happy :)
December 4, 2013
How I can fly half way across the country and still manage to stick to a relatively healthy eating schedule and maintain all workouts, yet make it home to my mom’s house for a week and feel like a slug is beyond me.
Not really. But sort’ve.
Last week I spent the week enjoying the comforts of home. This week, I’m looking back on how I spent it. My eating habits and lifestyle habits are relatively healthy compared to most, so I can’t say that I was “bad” for the whole week – but if I were to sit back and compare my extremely clean diet and workout schedule of the past few months to just a week of going back to how I used to be, I learned a few things. So, instead of wallowing in the “I wish I had”s, I’ll share.
Happily, a week of not being on a high intensity workout schedule and super clean diet (we’re talking, minimal sugar, carb cycling, loads of protein and whole food style eating) didn’t have an “immediate” change on my outward appearance. I may have felt a little softer, a big jigglier, but in actuality, my weight didn’t fluctuate at all. What it DID have an effect on however, was my mentality and emotions. I THOUGHT I was all of those things, I was down on myself and felt lazy. And not the good kind of lazy where you think “I deserve this break”. I felt sluggish and frustrated from a lack of workouts, dehydrated from not drinking enough water and most interestingly to me, I couldn’t for the life of me get a handle on my eating schedule and my body did NOT react well.
I eat about 5-6 smaller healthy meals a day, am a water weekdays warrior (alcohol on the weekends only) and I try to drink 1-2 liters of water each day too. But that schedule is pretty hard to maintain when you’re home away from home and out with friends and family that you haven’t seen every night. You have a beer to be social, you eat out almost every night. I tried to stick with healthier options, salads for lunch and dinners out, fresh fruit at breakfast (love a crisp cold apple fresh from the farmers market), but even a salad can start to feel heavy when you’re eating out. And I missed my clean protein sources. That was my biggest issue – I made some protein bars to bring along, but even they started to feel heavy after awhile. Sugar was EVERYWHERE and I ended up with more than a few sugar headaches. And the absolute worst I felt, was after my Thanksgiving meal.
First off – let me just say that anyone who thinks Vegans have to go hungry at Thanksgiving, you are officially invited to our house next year – SO much food on my plate. I think my plate was piled higher than most of the table. I made a vegan lentil loaf and a mushroom and leek seitan roulade that was to DIE for. There were also brussel sprouts, green beans and some of my mom’s stuffing that she very sweetly has veganized for me, sloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow cooked sweet little onions (we’re talking 18 hrs here kids) cooked in some red wine, crazy number of homemade cranberry sauces. So. Much. Food. The problem though, was that being used to eating the number of smaller meals in a day, having a small breakfast and then one LARGE meal in the afternoon that basically covered all of my caloric intake for the week had me feeling awful. I ended up in bed early with a migraine and what felt like impending doom of sickness. Luckily (and far less dramatically), I was fine the next morning.
I can say that although I wasn’t “working out” persay, I was fairly active for the majority of the week and even made it out to peruse some of the stores on Friday. Which leads me to another post for another day – but is anyone else starting to be a little tired of the extreme consumerism these days? Buying gifts because they flash the brightest and honk the loudest instead of finding a special gift and embracing the spirit, etc etc.
But for now – I’m back home. Sleep deprived (why is it that my first few nights back on a real and deliciously comfortable bed I sleep AWFULLY), but slowly getting back into the swing of workouts and healthy eating. I’m back to my small meals and got myself moving last night with some circuit style lifting and moderate cardio. Just in time for the Christmas festivities to start! We have our Christmas lights up on the house and are planning out our Christmas tree strategy/decorating. I’m determined to enjoy each holiday this year as much as I can. Because we should.
Hope everyone else has recovered from the holidays and maybe even had a healthier go of it than I did!
November 20, 2013
Ya’ll, I have reach the pinnacle of vegan cooking.
Homemade Vegan Pizza. Worth eating. I know.
Forgive the awful cell phone pictures, but this was just too good not to share. Honest to goodness Mom & Pop pizza feel and taste to it. I’ve made this pizza twice now. I followed the recipe for this pizza dough both times. The first I did a nice over night dough rise (and made my own sauce, per her instructions). The second time, I threw it together on a Sunday afternoon and used up the last of some store bought pizza sauce we had in the fridge. I added some slices of Follow Your Heart Vegan Cheese and kept my fingers crossed that the cheese would melt a bit (a common Vegan cheese problem).
The words “wait…which one is mine” and “aw man, yours looks better” were heard in my kitchen that night. Glorious glorious words. I think the secret was putting the cheese in the oven when it was 500 degrees :) But seriously, that dough? Magical. I’ve already turned a few people onto it, while becoming a total addict myself. There is literally nothing I have made and/or adapted from Smitten Kitchen that has not tasted amazing. I forsee many.many.MANY nights of pizza in my future.
November 18, 2013
I like working out, I really do (ok, maybe not cardio so much…). But I also like my weekends and sometimes, a workout is the last thing on my mind on a cozy rainy Sunday morning. Just like anyone and everyone else, I can definitely struggle with motivation. So this Sunday – I definitely was not feeling the scheduled workout, but as the day wore on – my guilt settled in, especially knowing that I really wanted to get back into the swing of things and really see some gains and the key to that – is consistency, aka – NOT skipping a workout on Sunday just because. But I definitely wasn’t up for a full fledged workout downstairs in the chilly basement…where there was no football watching to be had. Priorities – I gots ’em. So I reached back to when I first started working out pretty seriously and had to travel to a friend’s house that weekend. One of the workouts I did was called a “deck of cards” workout. They’re pretty standard workouts, with a ton of different ways to do them. The first time I did them, I followed Jamie Eason’s deck of cards workout and did a set of plyometric exercises, totaling the number of 3 cards to get my “number per” exercise for each exercise. I’ve also seen workouts that incorporate two moves (say, pushups and burpees) and you assign red or black cards to each exercise. For my workout today, I borrowed from this workout and used a different exercise for each shape. The original workout called for trying to get through as many of the 13 card sets as possible, each number on the card dictating how many of each move you do. I chose to up the ante a little bit and add in a second set of exercises and switch between the two for each set of 13 cards, for a total of 2 rounds per workout set and added in 20 mountain climbers at the end of each set. I finished up the deck of cards and was definitely winded, but strangely craving more. So after a quick break, I came up with 2 more workout sets and went for a second time. Here’s what my final workout looked like for today:
For the sets that required weights (squats, curls, presses, etc) I kept the weights super light, since at any given time I could be doing 20+ lifts at a time. The rest of the exercises I did with body weight only. To give you an idea of how this works – one of my card draws for Workout 3 looked like this.
I stuck to the original number values of
J= 11, Q = 12, K = 13 and Ace = 14 (there are no jokers in the deck for this!). So that was 23 lunges per leg, 12 tricep extensions, 12 upright rows, 2 + 10 jumping jacks, 10 upright rows, 9 lunges per leg, 28 upright rows, 2 + 22 jumping jacks and finally rounded out the set with 20 mountain climbers. After this workout, I pulled another 13 cards and did repeated for Workout #4, switching between the 2 for a total of 2x per workout (i.e. the entire deck of cards, sans jokers). Excluding the small break, the whole thing probably took me close to 45-50 minutes.
It may not seem like a lot, but as you work through each set and keep the pace up, you are definitely winded by the end of workout. Especially when you get the higher pulls like 23, 24, etc.
I finished up feeling proud that I had at least put in some time getting my heart rate up and I especially appreciated the change of pace. Not to mention a chance to catch some Football in the process :)
Hope ya’ll had a healthy weekend!
disclaimer: I am not a licensed fitness professional or trainer – this is a workout I designed for myself and felt comfortable doing given my level of experience with weight lifting. Please only pursue workouts that YOU are comfortable with and are appropriate to your level of fitness. The great thing about workouts is that they can be tailored to anyone’s skill level!
November 15, 2013
I read somewhere once that you should always give 100% everyday to whatever it is you’re doing. But the kicker, is that what is your 100% one day may be nowhere near your 100% the next day.
That, I have found – is so so true.
The good news is that my trip to the dentist was remarkably uneventful – I say remarkably, because the level of sensitivity and pain in my teeth was enough to have me double over at different points in the day. If you know me, you know my tolerance for dental pain is also pretty dang high. I’m not being a hero, rather the opposite. I hate going to the dentist, so I have adapted to tolerate almost any level of pain in order to avoid it. Case in point: I let an abscessed tooth go for over at least a year – and I’m willing to bet longer than that. So I put on my brave face and called up the dentist. Turns out – the pain wasn’t an abscessed tooth, but in all probability a nasty sinus infection that I’d been fighting off for a few weeks now, that suddenly decided it wanted to be BFFs with the nerves running to my teeth. Thanks for that.
So – while the dentist was thankfully uneventful (I did stay for my cleaning though! Gotta be better about these things.), i’m still left fighting off this sinus infection that isn’t symptomatic enough to warrant antibiotics, but pesky enough to make this blast of cold weather we’re having one of the most painful to date. I try to keep my medication overload to a minimum, choosing instead to fight unhealthy with healthy. But my efforts have certainly been a bit subpar to my normal standards.
So this week, my 100% looked like significantly lower intensity workouts and zero traditional cardio (the movement set my teeth throbbing). I lifted far less weight than I normally would aim for. But I worked out. And I attempted to have nutritious and healthy balanced meals each night. Sometimes, my 100% was a bowl of soup, but soup with greens and protein. Sometimes, like last night, my 100% looked like a heaping bowl of pasta, a beer and NO workouts. Turns out, I’d been blaming a lack of motivation and will power when it was probably my body saying “‘scuse me, but you’re sick, yo”, ok and maybe a little bit of lack of will power :)
Yes, I probably could have pushed a little more this week, but in the end – I would’ve been even more miserable than I already was. I am proud that I got in my workouts and plan to keep on getting them in. I’m ok that I have to modify them right now, because its not the end all be all of workouts and it feels better to do something than nothing. And eventually, when I’m feeling better, the workouts will ramp back up. But for now, this girl just wants to sleep! Its reassuring and kind of cool to be able to acknowledge a mental progression of sorts. A year ago, I would’ve been so angry with myself for not putting in a full workout I had planned. Growing up is cool.
Happy weekending y’all!
November 13, 2013
Sick = soup, always – right?
While I’m definitely not full blown sick, I have been feeling pretty drained and under the weather lately. I’ve been trying to keep up my workouts at a lower intensity and keep my body fueled with good healthy foods to fight off whatever it is that’s wrong with me (my money is on a Sinus Infection/Tooth Infection – yuck).
Yesterday was a particularly rough one and by the time I was home and had finished my workout, I had ZERO appetite. Not eating wasn’t an option, so instead I threw together this easy soup that reminded me of my “mom, can I have a bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup?” days. Salty, comforting and with a few extra healthy bits and pieces to satisfy my lifestyle.
I started with half a cube of Veggie broth bouillon into 2 cups of water and added some diced carrots and celery I had already cut up in the fridge. Next went half a package of pre-cubed tofu cubes, some freshly grated ginger, cayenne pepper and garlic powder, a trifecta of sick blasters! Once the veggies were nice and tender and the soup was ready to eat, I threw in a handful of torn up kale and let it steam a bit, to up the greens factor.
The result was cozy and comforting, salty and nourishing. Not too heavy, but still nutritious enough to satisfy. A big bowl of this would fill me up on a regular (feeling good) day, especially with the addition of some grains or noodles. But for now, it was perfect as was. Tonight, I’m feeling like a hungry beast, so I’m hoping a nice solid biceps/back workout will put me in the mood for some roasted acorn squash….get in mah bellay!
I’m off to the dentist tomorrow (I really hate the dentist…) to try and figure out if the tooth is the problem, or the sinuses are the problem. Chicken or the egg?
See also – go give my friend Dom some serious love over at his page. He just got back from running the NYC marathon. Major inspiration right there.