Dear world,

What is UP.

Love,

Katie.

The news has been a little disheartening lately – stuff that need not be mentioned more than it has to and I would just love, really love, if all of us stopped for a second and did something GOOD for someone else.   Slow down and let someone have their turn to pull out or merge into traffic, hold the door for someone you don’t know, breathe through the moment when you’re cut off instead of driving like a maniac, give a compliment or just plain old smile.  Simple little things that I have to believe can make a difference.  Sheesh.  Thanks in advance…

Moving on.

Lets talk about June and some new goals for the month!  I know, I know – MORE goals?  But honestly, I’m pretty bad with staying at “status quo” and don’t trust myself to stay at status quo instead of regressing to some Paleolithic state (I kid…).  So to combat that, I like to come up with personal goals every so often to try and ensure I’m working on being a better person and finding new ways to improve.  There are a few things I’ve already set in motion for this, like taking some online courses.  Nothing for credit, but some short courses that should help me improve on areas that I think are lacking.  This summer I signed up for an online course in Personal Finance through our local community college.    Now that I’ve got my cc debt cleaned up, its time to take the next step and understand some of the finer points of my finances, so not only do I not get stuck in that position again (ahem, shopping), but because I truly believe that the best option when it comes to finances is to be in control and understand everything you can about it (thanks dad!).

You also read the other day that I think I need to work on my core strength in order to get stronger and better at running.   So I proposed a challenge to myself and of course anyone else who wants to join in, to do core work every day.  I’m pretty lucky that Monday, Wednesday and Friday I have built in core work with my body pump or Yoga classes.  So I’m going to try and incorporate a few of those moves into the rest of the week.  I thought it’d be fun to show you some of the ones that I find to be most challenging and plan on getting better at as the weeks go on.

First up:  The Sprinters Crunch.  We use this move in Yoga a lot to work our core and while we only do a few, they’re not easy, even though our instructor makes it look like a breeze!  You start lying down on your back in a T position,

and then in one move, exhale and bring opposite knee to opposite elbow and hold.

Then, before you go crashing slowly back down to the floor, extend your arms and leg and continue to hold.  Finally, slowly return to your starting position and repeat with the opposite elbow/leg combo.  It looks easy, but try not to use momentum to pull yourself up and control your descent.

 

Next:  C-crunches (for lack of a better term).  On Friday mornings, the last half of our body pump class is a CX class, which focuses on core and postural muscles.  Which I love.  For one of our tracks, we do variations of these crunches, mixed with some pretty wicked plank moves.   I’m pretty sure I’ve seen variations of this move with a medicine ball or exercise ball also, but in class, we do it with a weight plate.  I don’t have plates yet for my home gym, but I do have hand weights, which I’m going to try.  The variation that I prefer is the hardest version of the crunch – where you start with your arms at your head (with the weight) and your legs either at a 90 degree angle, or just straight up.

Then slowly lower both legs to the ground while reaching your arms (with the weight) backbehind your head.  Then crunch your legs in, while coming up to meet them with your hands/head in a “normal crunch” move.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did that make sense?   If this variation isn’t your thing – modifications that we’ve done in class include losing the plate, keeping your legs bent and touching down with your toes, or even just touching down one toe at a time.  Any way you do it, they are killer!

Planks/hovers:  Whatever you call these guys, they can be rough.  We do them in both Yoga AND Cx/Body pump, and supposedly they’re one of the most effective core workouts you can get.  Sign me up!   There are side planks, wide planks, planks on your forearms, planks on your hands, planks on your knees, planks on the exercise ball.  Its pretty crazy.  But the great thing is, any one of these moves WORKS.  Some of my favorite variations include the step out, step in approach (with hands OR feet), raising your opposite arm and opposite leg, the leg stomp (literally marching in place while in a plank position), or even the plank crunch.  This one is a little tricky, and requires you’re in the plank position with your hands (pre-pushup position).  Then lean forward on your toes and once you center your balance, bring your knee up to the opposite elbow.  A few of these and you’re thinking “ok, I can do this”, a whole song’s worth and you’re red in the face wondering why artists sing such long songs anyhow…

never mind the sweat streak, This was post run 🙂

 

I have a few other goals, but this post is pretty lengthy – so maybe I’ll save those for next time, but for now – whataya say?  Some smiles and core work everyday for June?  Sounds like a challenge to me, who’s in!?  🙂  I’ve got a head start and  did my core work after a cross training run.  Your turn!

xo

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Midweek motivation

May 30, 2012

I love me some inspiration when it comes to working out and eating right.  Whether its spending an afternoon trolling the pinterest boards for motivational fitness quotes, my daily reads for lifestyle motivation, cookbooks, you name it.  If its going to get me motivated to be a better version of me, I’m all for it!!

Confession:  I am a sucker for those weight loss inspiration stories you see on all of the magazine and fitness websites.  I love to read about how every day people get their lives back and the stories that go along with it.  Although I’m fairly healthy and in shape, I get a lot of my motivation through stories like these and use them to help push me through slumps in my exercise routine.

Take for instance this article by Self magazine.  Everyday women who decided to change how they were living and finding ways to beat the odds.  If you click through it, this article had some great quotes or tips, like writing a note to your “evening self”, reminding yourself how great you felt after a morning workout as motivation to keep healthy for the rest of the day and for round 2 of those early AM workouts.

I also really liked the statement by one of the interviewees that “the diets were working, but I wasn’t”.  Just a simple, but effective reminder that a healthy lifestyle means you keep making the right decisions, even after you reach your goals, so that way you don’t find yourself starting back at ground zero.

As for my own workouts and healthy habits, I was hoping to use this past weekend as a way to reset my mood towards exercising.  Lately the running has been a serious struggle, with the combination of running outside in the heat and hills.   I’m trying to get most of my workout runs in outside, to get used to the humidity and temperatures, not to mention enjoy some of the summer weather we’re starting to get.  After a week of no dedicated cardio, I was ready to try my hand at it again last night.

Workout:

Last night I went for my first run of the week, but with the 90+ temps, I didn’t have a set distance in mind.  Ideally I would’ve gotten in my longer training run, but if the heat proved to be too much, I could always pack it in at 3 miles.  I ended up with a 5.5 mile run, having had it cut short by the storms that were rolling through.  The run started off great and I had a good and consistent 9:30 pace going, which is good for my outdoor pace, especially with the rolling hills.  But somewhere around mile 3.5-4 my legs started to give out and my stomach started to fight back.  I slipped in two walking breaks to recalibrate and sip some water, which I eventually just gave up with and dumped over my head.    Although I was frustrated with the “just about made it” distance and the walking breaks,  I’m trying to walk away from the run looking at the positive of it and some areas that I can focus on for improvement.

–          If I don’t focus on speed, I tend to not fiddle around with my stride as much.  It was semi-enjoyable to just get out there and run, rather than beat a PR time.

–          I got OUT there, and I was motivated to do get out there.   I’m slowly starting to get my training edge back.  My sights are starting to focus on that bucket list marathon.

–          Areas I can focus on?  Revamping the route.   I’m starting to dread different parts of my local haunts when I run, so switching it up may help to spark my interests.  Also, regaining the strength in my core and leg muscles.  Body pump is great for this, but it also has me motivated to get back into some heavier lifting during the week to compliment.

The Eats:

I topped off my healthy night with a nice and lite healthy dinner after my run.  We haven’t been eating as many fresh veggies and fruit that I’d like to for dinner lately, but the good news is that summer is a great time to get that started.  Hellooooo Farmers Market!   For last night’s dinner we had a simple spinach salad with apples, craisins, pumpkin & chia seeds, some Daiya cheese for me (Swiss for the mister) and Lemon poppy seed dressing – with some leftover corn on the cob from the weekend, reheated in the grill pan.  Add some fresh grapes and you have yourself a tasty and fresh dinner, that won’t offset the workout!

That’s my kinda meal.

With an evening like that under my belt, I woke up fresh and ON TIME this morning, for the first time in a long time – ready for the day! Can’t wait to keep it going with healthy snacks (like a tasty green smoothie this afternoon -(Chocolate Almond milk is the BEST) and some yoga in the evening 🙂

Here’s to healthy restarts!

xo

This past (three!) day weekend Brandon and I joined a group of some of our best friends and headed north to a cabin in Pennsylvania.    We had a great time just sitting around and relaxing.  We also managed to get in some activity, heading out for a 45 mile bike ride with some friends.    At the halfway point there was a hike up to the top of what’s called the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.

We didn’t go the whole way up (there were a LOT of steps) but enjoyed the views for the small part of the straight up, 1.5 mile hike 😉

Ice cream cones for the gang!

And of course, what’s a bike ride with friends without stopping at the strategically placed ice cream shop along the way??  3 miles from home, it was a tasty treat to end our ride with.

I opted for what appears to be the world’s largest cone of rainbow sherbert, ever.

All of the exercise was helpful, especially since for the rest of the weekend we opted to sit around and enjoy some good ol’ fashion cookouts.  Being a vegetarian is foreign enough to these guys, so I didn’t want to send them packing with the idea of Vegan meals.  In actuality the weekend was a great chance to start conversations about how I go about replacing the meat, eggs and dairy in my meals with other foods, in a healthy and satisfying way.   While they didn’t forgo their meat and cheese weekend, they were supportive of my decisions, respectful of how they prepared certain dishes so that I could eat them also and genuinely curious about all of the things I brought to the table.    Each meal I left my plate empty and feeling stuffed to the gills, but thanks to some healthier choices, I felt great all weekend.  Here’s how I did it:

Saturday:

                     Them                                                                               Me

Breakfast:      Tasty-kakes and coffee                                                                         banana with pb and a blueberry bagel (with the PB also) we picked up at the grocery store along the way.

 Lunch:            Firemen’s Chicken BBQ                                                                        this pasta recipe from (www.dailygarnish.com), fruit salad and some chips with an avocado, corn and bean salsa I whipped together.

Dinner:            BBQ Beef Brisket, Ribs, Corn on the cobb                               Round two of lunch, with a Naked Chick’n cutlet smothered in homemade BBQ sauce and some corn on the cobb.

                               Italian  pasta salad

Dessert:           Smores                                                                                                                Some vegan chocolate cookie bars I found – they weren’t the best, but satisfied a sweet craving around the fire!

Sunday:

Breakfast:      Scrambled eggs, toast, bacon                                                           Tofu scramble with Salsa, toast with PB and some more fruit salad

Dinner:            Burgers, Dogs, and the rest of it!                                                   I nabbed a veggie burger and veggie dog (both Vegan!  Its amazing how they sneak cheese into everything! Yikes…), plus snacked on all the offerings at the table that were available 🙂 Yum!

Monday:

Breakfast:    Pancakes and Sausage                                                                           Some homemade strawberry bread bites (read:  failed cupcake experiment) with syrup, fruit salad and a banana with PB. Yum!

It was pretty easy, once the menu was determined for the rest of the group to figure out how I was going to stick to my food preferences and not make the group feel like there was any extra hassle or fancy cooking involved, just simple and delicious BBQ food for a holiday weekend with friends! 🙂

How was everyone’s weekend??  Ever have your dietary preferences clash with the lifestyle of your friends and family?  Were they supportive?

 xo

Written in defiance

May 25, 2012

This past week has been a week full of bad days, bad moods, excuses, laziness, and very.few.smiles.  All of which resulted in a mini-internal meltdown last night.  Its so easy to look back on a day of the week after the fact and think “oh, I guess maybe it really wasn’t that bad”, but it doesn’t help when you’re in the moment.  Things that do help?  Some honest self-reflection, a supportive husband, friends who are willing to talk you out of your “man face” rant (don’t ask) and a random pre-lunch tofu spring wrap date (thanks Lil!)   Without getting too far back into what has seemed like a never ending laundry list of “this is why I feel miserable lately” posts, last night was a great way to realize how important these workouts truly are for me, rekindle my love of fresh and healthy cooking and to relearn those mental connections of “what you eat affects how you feel” “how you feel is directly related to how you treat your body”.

And now, we are staring a 3 day Holiday weekend in the face.  I’m planning on a trip up north to a cabin in PA with our amazing friends.  There are plans for a hike, a trail ride on the bikes and being genuinely happy to be surrounded by such wonderful people.  So even though I may not be getting in my weekend long run (its all good, my 8 miler last weekend put me a week ahead distance wise), I’ll still be getting in lots of activity.  If that doesn’t sound like a great way to remember why I love being so active and in shape, I don’t know what does J  I’ll be the only Vegetarian there, so cooking should be a treat…but I’m determined to make it work and come back proud of having had an enjoyable but healthy holiday break!

Before we all head off, I thought a great way to end a not so fun week, would be to list a few things that make me happy, as a reminder that not everything has to be so negative! 🙂 Here we go:

  1.  Early AM workouts.  Love love LOVE the shaky muscle feeling after a good Body Pump session in the AM.  I feel like the instructors are my (unknownst to them) bffs.  Its hard work getting out of bed at 5, but its worth it.

 

Post workout, feelin good!
  1.  This book.  I picked this gem up at a book sale for like, a buck.  It has been such an enjoyable read.  I never knew much about Katharine Hepburn and have sadly yet to see any of her movies, but you better believe Philadelphia Story and The African Queen are now on the top of my list!  I’m currently obsessed!
  1. This summery pasta dish with beans, tomatoes, asparagus, garlic, a little olive oil and lemon juice.  So simple, but so so so good.

 

  1. Friday morning breakfasts. Enjoyed during those rare few moments of quiet at work.

    Coffee and a homemade Vegan Scone! YUM.

  1. And this guy. 1 of 2 from our dynamic furry duo. That’s his early morning face.

Your turn!  Dare ya to defy your bad mood, day or week and come up with somethings that make you smile.  Care to share?

With that, I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from my new obsession:

“Never complain, never explain”

~Katharine Hepburn

Happy Memorial Day weekend ya’ll!

xo

This vs That

May 24, 2012

Ugh.  Well.  This morning has been a morning.

1. running late

2. My strawberry cupcakes are more like…strawberry bread…

3. coffee machine ISN’T working

4. running late

5.  Grab an umbrella, find out later there’s already one in my bag (d’oh).

6.  Dear lady on 83, if your idea of merging is to first stop on the on ramp, then creep out onto the highway, then stop on the highway, all the while managing to almost merge into the ONE CAR that was in the lane for the entire process, go retake your drivers exam. Or stop texting. On second thought – do both.

Lets just say I will not be suffering fools gladly today.  But I’m trying super hard to not let it all get to me.  I’m currently trying to figure out a way to salvage the SECOND round of cupcakes (First round was edible, but not what I wanted or really presentable).  Strawberry Bread Bites has a nice ring to it, or maybe some sort of parfait? Any ideas?

But enough about crummy starts to a Thursday morning, I have my coffee now, so lets talk about breakfasts!

With the warmer temperatures creeping in, i’ve been shifting away from cooked oatmeal in the morning (although you couldn’t pay me to give up my overnight oats!) and into some more summer friendly breakfasts.  I don’t have a lot of time in the morning, so it ends to be something I can shovel into my mouth with a spoon while getting ready for work.  The less hassle and prep the better!

Lately i’ve been embracing two separate breakfasts and thought I’d share and take a peek at the nutritional value of each according to dailyplate.com, to see if I’m getting a decent meal in the morning!  Lets see:

Breakfast #1:  The best darn lookin’ bowl of cereal, ever.

   

Although I used to crave a more elaborate breakfast, I’ve found cereal to be simple and pretty filling if I do it right.  Nix the sugar cereals and add some more fiber with the berries and it turns into a pretty decent breakfast…This week i’ve been using Kashi Autumn Harvest Shredded Wheat, Almond Milk and berries.

Breakfast #2:  Millet/Quinoa bowl with Almond Milk and Berries

I have a rice cooker.  And I love it.  And its way underused.  Back when I was in grad school, one of my favorite ways to make sure I got some semblance of a nutritional meal during the day was to start with a bowl of quinoa and berries.  Millet has been floating around the blogosphere lately as a new and fun grain to try.  So this past week, when I (gasp) ran out of cereal, I decided to turn to my grad school standby, but wanted to make it a little more substantial.  Instead of going the traditional rolled oats route, I took a page from  Jenny’s book and decided to try some Millet.   Mixing and making the two together in my rice cooker resulted in some pretty creamy grains, which were easily broken up by a bit of Almond milk 🙂

In addition to the berries, I also added a drizzle of Maple syrup.  In the end, I’m not really sure it needed it (maybe my tastebuds have changed), but maple syrup is too delicious to pass up 🙂

   

Lets compare, shall we?

Head to head, the cereal seems to have less calories, fat, carbs and sodium,  the Quinoa/Millet breakfast bowl comes out on top for protein and less sugar.

I’ve never directly compared my breakfasts and I think its pretty interesting (and impressive!) that my two go-to breakfasts as of late seem to rate pretty well and so evenly for nutritional value – although disclaimer: I have had no nutritional training.   Based on the values, I’d probably opt for the Millet bowl on days when I have a little more time in the morning, but want to keep fuller for a longer period.

Have you ever compared your breakfasts for nutrition?  What’s your favorite?


xo

After yesterday’s pity party – I decided that some rest was definitely in order for a few days.  Give my body a chance to reset.  I ask a heck of a lot and in most cases it responds pretty well.  Sometimes, it doesn’t  – which is where I need to step up and be the better man me.

That’s why, when Brandon suggested we go to the Orioles game for the cheapie Tuesday night tickets, I opted to bench my scheduled run and enjoy a night off instead.   As a Vegetarian/(sometimes Vegan) fan, baseball games can be a little tricky to maneuver.  Its definitely a lot easier to grab a hot dog and a beer before heading to your seat.   Sometimes the stadiums have some veggie friendly options, but right now Camden Yards has the one place it sold Veggie dogs/burgers closed for renovations 😦  So, I knew I’d be in for a pretty carb heavy night.  Its a good thing I stick to mostly Salads, veggies and fruit during the day.

Bohs and a soft pretzel to start

One of our tricks for trying to stay somewhat within reason was to split our food, instead of spending money on two of everything.  Although we splurged on the Natty Bohs 😉  For our main course we had some french fries (with tons of ketchup and some old bay) and the Nachos – cheese for him, salsa for me.

The O’s ended up winning the game – even though we have fun no matter what the outcome, its always nice to see the home team win!

Although it was a totally necessary and great way to get some rest, i’m quickly realizing that the rest of my week isn’t looking altogether workout friendly.   We’re heading away for the Memorial day weekend and i’m in charge of some desserts for a hungry group of guys.  I debated a run tonight instead of Yoga, and although I feel a ton better and strong, I nixed both options in favor of getting some things taken care of around the apartment and kitchen that would otherwise be weighing on my mind.  I’m trying to think of this training thing as more of a big picture goal for the Marathon in October, rather than training specifically for this 10 miler in a few weeks.  Although I’d really like to do well, I think its important to remember its just a race in place of a long run for the weekend as I train for a larger goal.    I still may try to get some lifting and semi cardio exercises in to get my heart rate up, especially since I know not much in the way of exercising will be going on this weekend…

Also, a big welcome home to fellow Bal’mer blogger, Jenny over at http://loveeatrun.com/.   If you get the chance, pop on over to see about her experiences in Korea and check out her daily workouts/eats! She puts my training schedule to SHAME.  Also, i’m pretty sure she has the world’s cutest dog.

Happy Wednesday ya’ll!

xo

These days I’ve been pretty remiss about keeping ya’ll up to date on my training for the 10 miler coming up in (eep!) 3 weeks or so.

The good news is that i’ve been able to cross of my workout plans for the day/week in a steady manner.  The bad news? Is that I feel like there is 0 improvement going on right now.  Its pretty frustrating.  Lets explore, shall we?

Lifting:  I go to my body pump class twice a week.  After taking just a week off, I feel weak, tired and scared I won’t get through a track at a higher weight.  Nevermind the fact that stopping to take a breather while lifting is allowed and totally ok.  Nono, I go by personal guilt.  SO mentally, that’s on me.  But PHYSICALLY, i’m baffled as to why i’m not doing as well as I want.  I’m considering adding in a day of heavier lifting in the middle of the week to work on building muscle mass.  Oh yeah…and getting over that scared thing.

Running:  In the past two weeks, I’ve had 1 two mile and 1 five mile run on the books.  Then a long run for each Sunday, one topped out at 6 miles and yesterday’s was right around 8 (and if you’re following along, yes, that does mean I went for a trail RIDE yesterday on my bike and THEN a long run – bad move).  Here’s what I can tell you about my runs.  They’re outside, they’re hilly and they’re currently pretty dang hot.  Even running after work in the evening they can get warm.  I feel heavy, slow and not smooth in my stride at ALL.  There’s also this new little annoying tidbit i’ve picked up, where I get some pretty wicked stomach pains after my run and especially after my long run.    Again.  WHAT GIVES?   Am I not eating the right foods?  Lacking in one particular vitamin or mineral?  Getting enough sleep?  Challenging myself enough?? Hydrated?

After a particularly grueling run on Sunday, I’ve come to the following conclusions and promises to myself:

1.  No more running mid day when its so warm and sunny out.

2.  Start taking a multi vitamin regularly (again).  I eat pretty healthy, but no one is perfect!

3.  Sleep better?  I would say sleep more, but that’s really hard for me to do.  I like living my day, which makes it pretty hard to go to bed at 9 pm.

4.  Eat better.  Like I said, although I eat pretty healthy already,  I’ve been a little lax lately.  So my goal for the next week is to eat as clean a diet as possible.

5.  Challenge myself:  Working out is funny, in that you get out of it, what you put into  it.  If i’m not seeing results at least SOME of that, is on me.  If I want to get better at running – I need to push on my speed intervals, run in the AM and focus on my stride.  If I want to get stronger – I need to up the weight, grit my teeth and work through the sweat and fatigue.  That’s the other really great thing about working out – more often than not, the discomfort is temporary.

All of these goals are great, but they don’t change the fact that when you feel crummy, you feel crummy! And yesterday, I felt anything BUT awesome after my long run on Sunday.   After struggling through the day, I was extremely glad to get home and eat some healthy comfort food.   I adapted the recipe from Alicia Silverstone’s book, The Kind Diet – using her Hearty Pinto bean stew as a base.

The recipe called for tomato soup as the stock for the bean stew, but since I couldn’t find any Vegan options, I winged (wung?) it and used some canned Tomato sauce and Nutritional yeast, keeping the rest of the add ins the same.   I took Alicia’s cues for this being a sort’ve grown up “franks n’ beans” recipe and added in some Veggie Italian sausages for fun.

Brandon was content with mixing the beans and sausages together as they were, but I was looking for something just a tad more substantial.  So instead of letting the two fly solo, I popped some Red Quinoa into my beloved rice maker and mixed in some of the sauce to keep it from getting too dried out – and topped the quinoa with my sausage and bean stew mix.

Hearty, healthy and comforting.  Just what the doctor ordered…


xo

ps – I like to pair my grown up, vegetarian Franks n’ beans with a lovely juice and club soda mix.   In a wine glass.  Because I’m keep in classy up in here.