And so it goes – 2014

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.

Fitness:

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.

xo

 

 

 

 

 

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Snow Days

December 10, 2013

Oh last Friday…Also known as:

soup and bread

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.

the front

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. 

winter wonderland

And another perfect day for another perfect bowl of soup.  I’m thinking this recipe:

http://www.dailygarnish.com/recipes?recipe_id=6000059

Wherever you are, I hope you are warm and safe and dry!

coz

And happy 🙂

xo

My 100%

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!

xo

 

At home vs At the Gym

November 11, 2013

Man is this post long over due….

I “recently” (cough cough: early October: cough cough) spent some time out in Salt Lake City, Utah for work and while I was there, I had the pleasure of some of the best vegan food I’ve had in a long time and even managed to not step foot in a Starbucks once the entire time I was there (A staple for conference goers everywhere…), choosing to explore the local breakfast and coffee options instead, a personal accomplishment of mine.

On top of all of that, I had serious first for me, which was being dedicated enough to a workout to take advantage of a hotel gym to keep up with my scheduled sessions.    Since it was the first time I’ve set foot in a gym other than my basement for the first time since February, I thought it’d be fun to compare my experiences between the two.

First things first: Cardio. 

I have a treadmill at home, but the week I was in Utah was the first that my training program was adding some medium intensity cardio back into the mix.   There are a few things that I came to realize.

1.  Never underestimate the value of a good quality treadmill.  I have my brothers hand-me-down treadmill in my basement, for which I am extremely grateful.  But its a rickity and wobbly machine that doesn’t have proper incline control (read:  none at all).  But I think the most important thing I realized while in Utah, is that good treadmills are a bit softer on the knees.   For 3 days in a row, I banged out solid cardio sessions which were enjoyable and a good workout and I was actually a bit sorry to see the time end.  Compare that to at home, where its painful, sluggish and slow.  Lesson learned, a) get outside and run b) save up for a decent treadmill (sure beats fighting for one at the gym!).

2.  Somewhat related to being on the treadmill, is the fact that I was willing to be on a treadmill.  One of the reasons I first started running is embarrassingly non-inspirational.  I waltzed into my apartment gym ready to elliptical my little heart out.  The only problem?  No ellipticals were free.  No problem, I’d just hop on a bike and work out (steadfastly avoiding that treadmill), but they were full also.  Strangely, the row of treadmills was empty, but people will milling about stalking ellipticals like it was their job.  So instead of wasting my time, I reluctantly got on a treadmill (and voila! A blog was born…).  The moral of this story?  Is I saw my previous self walk into that gym every.morning.   The amount of eyerolling, foot stomping and exasperated sighing that I witness simply because the ellipticals were occupied was both amusing and disheartening.  I was suddenly very grateful that I had the ability to work out in so many different ways.

Next up – LIFTING.

Oh man. I didn’t think I’d ever miss weight lifting machines as much as I have in the past few months.  I love free weights and will forever believe they are the best form of lifting.  But lately I’ve felt a bit limited with the exercises I can safely do (like heavier weights for squats), or even think about about doing (lat pulldowns, leg press, etc).  There are some quick fixes, hamstring curls/leg extensions with dumbbells etc, or front/hack squats to replace the quad targeting for leg extensions, but I have been absolutely missing targeting my back muscles or incline exercises.  Funny though, while it was really nice to use those machines (and do a proper pull up/chin up, I managed to eek out 3-5 each time (leg kicking and all), after which a separate gym goer promptly walked over and banged out about 30 without breaking a sweat – sigh.), I found I missed simple things, like my squat bar (seriously, what gym doesn’t have a barbell.   I also had the pleasure of a workout partner for the week.  Which came in VERY handy after spending hours wandering around a city and eating delicious food.  Sometimes a little outside influence is necessary 🙂

I came back thoroughly proud of my workout dedication and extremely burnt out.  As I worked through some minor jet lag and general conference/travel exhaustion, the last thing I wanted to do was prep meals, wander downstairs after work and lift  heavy.  I took a glance over my workout logs (another reason I am super glad I kept them) and realized that it had been about 7 weeks straight of very intense lifting, 5-6 days a week.  For someone who’s used to those workouts, it starts to be second nature, but for this little gal, it was definitely time for a breather.   I also glanced over my food logs and was a bit skeptical of the amount of calories I was taking in (and with the lack of cardio in the first part of the program, not burning off as much).  I did a few more calculations and reading and came to the conclusion that I was probably taking in about 500 more calories than I truly needed, which would explain my overall discontent with body image and feeling sluggish.  I was so focused on protein and carb ratios, that I completely overlooked my veggie intake also.  Instead of my clothes fitting better, they were beginning to feel a bit too tight.  Oops.  So for the 2 weeks or so after my conference, I worked out moderately, but really focused on not focusing too much on the diet. I ate what felt healthy (and much much lighter).   My natural caloric intake came back down to a far more reasonable intake amount and I now feel a TON better.  After a few days of 100% no workout rests, I kept up my workouts, but instead of 5-6 days a week, I cut back to 3-4 days a week and kept the weights a little lighter.    Slowly but surely I’m working myself through the burnt out phase.  I’m keeping an eye on inspirational sources and trusting my food instincts a lot more, instead of focusing just on numbers.  Certainly nothing groundbreaking, the body is this crazy thing that requires a lot of fine tuning when it comes to workouts.  So its just a general moving forward and tweaking as I go.  Which I’m proud of doing, rather than saying “nope! not for me, peace out, workouts!”

Now that I’m starting to feel a little more inspired, I’m beginning to pay a little more attention to my at home gym.  I’m still not convinced that I need a gym membership, so I thought I’d give a peek into how I’m getting through some hurdles I’ve found.

The Squat Rack

The Squat Rack

My biggest concern  when working out at home is safety, especially since I workout solo without spotters.  As my weights for squats went up, the need for a “squat rack” became pretty apparent.  I have two sets of 10 lb weights, a set of 5s and a set of 20s.  And anything above 25 lbs it gets a little sketchy trying to clean and press the bar on to my neck (body pumpers will know this move).  So the solution, was this rack.  It puts the bar just below shoulder height for me, so that I can easily get under the bar and not have to worry about getting the weights up and over my head.

My "incline" set up

My “incline” set up

One of the staples of weight lifting, is to target the same muscles from different angles.  Think, regular bench press vs an incline bench press. The above set up is my quick fix for any incline exercises until I get a bench that can be adjusted for different angles.  Its just my exercise ball propped against an old fridge (or wall, etc) in the basement.  Its definitely not perfect, but it works for now.

Exercise bands

Exercise bands

My last quick fix so far is the use of exercise bands for exercises like tricep pushdowns or seated rows.  The above set up is what I use for the pushdowns, if I’m doing a row, I wrap the bands around a pillar instead of a ceiling beam (which incidentally is also where I try to build up to some efficient pull ups).   The obvious downside to this fix is the lack of added weight resistance.  I do find with the tricep pushdowns that if I’ve worked my arms out hard enough previous to this exercise that the bands will be extremely sufficient in fatiguing the muscles.  But for the rows, lat pull downs, etc, I usually end up wishing I had more weight to pull.  I usually try to find different exercises that target the same muscles that use dumbbells instead.

So there you have it – that’s the current state of my at home gym, with a pretty decent set of dumbbells to go with.  I’m happy with what I’ve pulled together so far, but next up on the list is definitely a proper pull up bar, a bench and I’ve seen a few online tutorials for putting together a lat pulldown machine.  I also think I’d like to seriously look into a decent treadmill or elliptical machine.  Its definitely not perfect and I absolutely miss the amenities of a fully equipped gym, but I also don’t miss waiting for a machine (cardio or otherwise) and the added few steps of working up the motivation to get out of the house and to the gym.   Plus, you can’t beat having 2 four-legged furry workout buddies to keep you company!

Happy Monday ya’ll!

xo

p.s. How is it the 2nd full week of November already?? I’ve been doing my daily “I”m grateful for…” but keeping it private, in a little notebook that I carry with me everyday.  I’ve really been enjoying the practice and plan on keeping it up even after November is done.

p.p.s.  Thank you so much to whoever nominated me for the Mobbies ( A Baltimore based Blog award).  I’m super sorry I haven’t been too timely with posts lately.  The above mentioned burnout recovery involved some nights of complete self reflection.

 

 

Decisions Decisions…

August 23, 2013

Another week, another Friday.

First of all – can we just for a moment, contemplate how awesome I have to be to grow a cucumber shaped like this?

cucumber

I’m going to say this is not a weird cucumber, its a rustic cucumber.  Uh huh.

I snuck in another good and sweaty workout last night and I am looking forward to relaxing a bit this weekend –I have big plans to see and spoil my favorite 2 year old girl, have coffee with my old college roommate, a local small town baseball game (Go Barnstormers!) and maybe fit in a bike ride or nice easy outside run somewhere in there.

But first and foremost I get to enjoy my Friday night.  Ever since really sticking to my water weekdays plan, I’ve gotten a lot more picky about what I choose to drink come the weekend.  Sometimes a beer is just too heavy or honest, not good enough to justify the drink.  And since its rare that I can finish a bottle of wine in a weekend – I’ve been experimenting with making some fun cocktails and enjoying them out on the deck while the summer sticks around.  For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to teach myself to enjoy tequila – but this week, I’m giving that a break and thinking I may go for another one of these:

 greyhound

 A greyhound, with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and vodka (although I have seen it made with gin).  Insanely refreshing (if you like grapefruit juice) and just a nice, easy to make, easy to drink kind of drink.  But then again, should I repeat or go for a new drink just for fun?

I’m a Rye girl through and through and still love my grapefruit juice – so this recipe caught my eye.

But then again, a greyhound can also be made with gin – and that got me thinkin’, it could be a dirty martini kind of night (double the olives, please!)

That just leaves me to figure out what the heck to make for dinner…I mean, chips and salsa doesn’t count…does it?

 

Happy Friday ya’ll! 🙂 Go make someone’s day

xo

March 1st

March 1, 2013

image

It may be decaf, but I’m on cup 2

February was a bit rough for this gal, ok, but a bit stressful. Add in a week of not falling asleep or staying asleep, let’s just say I’m happy to see March. Bring on Spring, sunshine, more sleep, less stress, one or two birthdays and a whole lotta smiles.

Enjoy your weekend, friends!

Xo

In other news

February 21, 2013

It’s been one of those weeks, where I had a big presentation on Monday, and instead of having that exhale moment where I go home, have a cup of tea and relax, I stay at work late, can’t sleep and generally don’t relax. I have upped my mug of tea quota though.  So at least there’s that. 

image

In other news: this justins chocolate almond butter needs to simultaneously get in my belly and out of my drawer at work, because it is delicious and very hard to not eat.  I had some on a banana this afternoon for a snack, but eventually cut out the middleman and knife fed it to myself.  I managed to stop before things got bad.  Thank goodness.

image

Dinners have been a bit meh this week.  But last night it was nice to finish off the last of our asparagus with this fun new salad recipe from an old vegetarian cookbook.  Steamed asparagus, grape tomatoes and orange sections on a bed of spinach with a whip it up quick citrus vinaigrette.  Easy, quick and a refreshing change from the heavy winter foods as of late.

And finally

image

Fear the purr.

Xo