Week 4

October 5, 2013

I am finding that no matter what the workout, no matter how much I love it or am determined to stick to a schedule – there will always be that lagging period.  You know?  That time where you feel like you’re not making any gains, where the training is more of a struggle to start and sometimes get through and you body is just tired.

I’ve been through enough exercise phases to know that this is temporary.  I also know that I feel this way almost every time I get about 4 weeks into of consistent anything.  The initial excitement wears off and your body works hard to readjust to everything you’re asking it to do.  I’m finishing up my 4th week of consistent and (relatively) heavy weight training.  I’m doing 5-6 days a week of lifting splits, targeting all of the muscle groups at least once.  So I’m bound to be tired – not to mention my body is getting used to a fairly new way of eating.

Eating.  Oh man the food.  Lifting itself is not a new concept to me, I enjoyed lifting in highschool and even maintained half assed lifting routines through college and grad school and even while running.  But this is the first time I’ve seriously lifted to gain some muscle mass rather than use it as an aside to my cardio.  I’ve been reading up a lot about it, because I want to do it right and healthy.   One of the biggest differences for me, is the change in eating.  In order to gain muscle, you have to eat more food and not burn as many calories.  i.e. lay off the cardio.  Its hard for me, since I’m a fairly petite girl measuring up to a solid 5’2 (and given the height of my mom and my dad, I’d say I’m lucky) to eat that much food.  I’m sorry to say I didn’t eat that much to begin with, so I was probably not eating enough to start out.  But to up the calories 200-400 a day PLUS adding about 1g protein/lb bodyfat.  So, I’m trying to get approximately 110 grams of protein in a day.  Which, lemme tell ya – as someone who eats a largely vegan diet, it ain’t that easy.    I’ve been experimenting with Seitan and tofu dishes to try and mimic as best as possible the lean protein non-plant based eaters can get from a piece of chicken or lean ground turkey etc.  I’ve touched on it before, but the biggest trick is balance.  Much of the vegetarian or vegan protein options have a fairly high carbohydrate to protein balance compared to meat.  For a non-“bulking” diet, that’s not as much of a deal as is for bulking, because they’re still incredibly healthy options (bulking diet or otherwise).   At the end of the day I can feel pretty full and just uninterested in dinner or a post workout protein shake.  I’ve been feeling this more lately than not and I think one of the biggest culprits is having a second protein shake earlier in the day.  Great for getting in the protein, but dang if it doesn’t make me full.  Which leads me to my 2nd issue:

The other major problem I’ve been struggling with with this “bulking” diet is that I’m focusing largely on the Macros – Fats, Carbs and Protein.  Which isn’t a bad thing, except I tend to focus so much on getting in enough carbs for each per meal, that I tend to skip over the VEGGIES.  The mainstay staple of a plant-based diet.  I already know from experience that I feel best when I’m eating fresh veggies at least 2-3 times a day, usually in the form of a nice big salad at lunch.  Enter this lovely friend:


One of the major benefits from having a workout journal is that I can look back on the past few weeks and if I’ve been dedicated to keeping track of what I’ve been eating and how I’ve felt each day, and I like to think I have been, which gives me a great way to figure out what days I felt my worst and see if there was a correlation.  In most cases, that correlation came from not enough veggies.  Most weight lifters tend to consider these as “free foods”, because yes, they are carbs, but they’re so full of fiber and so low in calories that they tend to make very little difference in the end.  Plus, they’re essential in just feeling better.

So – going into week 5-8 I have a few goals for myself.  I’m happy with the groundwork I’ve laid, developing some good muscle endurance, making working out each night a habit, enough to the point that rest days drive me nuts –  its good to know that I have the self-discipline to at least force myself to start.  In most cases, if I start, I finish and so far that’s been the case for each night I think “man, but I am just so sore” or “tired” or “need a break”. I promise myself if I start and I’m just not feeling it or if I just phone it in, I can stop and start it up again the next day.  So far, that hasn’t been necessary and I’ve pushed myself to lift like I mean it each night.   I’m proud of how I’ve researched out exercise alternatives to the lifts I can’t perform at home and the creativity I’ve used to make use of resistance bands and ankle weights.   I haven’t seen much change in actual muscle size yet – which, i’m not looking for much, but I have read that it takes at least 4-6 weeks before your muscles are even ready to start  to hypertrophy.  I’m taking measurements each week and “progress photos” every couple of weeks to keep track.  I’ve done a fairly good job at not stepping on the scale with the wrong mindset.  So, for weeks 5-8 I’m going to work on my food balance and really working on a mind to muscle connection.    More veggies – really honing in on that caloric intake that I’m feeling comfortable and not overly full, but still knowing I’m providing enough calories for my body to get to work.    And definitely working on focusing on each muscle group that I’m trying to target for each lift.  For some lifts, its pretty easy – biceps, shoulder presses, even my squats, split squats (devil), etc etc., but others are a lot harder, my back, my delts, triceps and calves.   So far its been fun though and I’m absolutely enjoying this new surge of “beast mode” I’ve got goin on each day.

Finally, in the spirit of what I’ve been writing about, I’d love to share a blog post that my friend recently shared with me.  It really touches on a lot of great points about being healthy as a female and what it really means.  http://sophieologie.wordpress.com/2013/09/26/1200-calories/  Take a read if you have time this weekend.

Otherwise – I have lifted my butt off this week, so I’m about to enjoy (maybe?) a nice couple of rest days around the house.

Beast mode

Beast Mode! Grrrrr baby


Have a great weekend ya’ll!




Ever feel like you need a serious brainstorming coffee session with friends to get the positive, creative, motivation ideas flowing again?  After a hell of a summer, you could even argue first half of 2013,that is definitely what I feel I need. 

I’ve mentioned it before, but there have been ups and downs these past 9 months.  Its been a roller coaster for sure, from finding, buying and moving into a house, securing a job, losing 3 people that I love to cancer this summer alone – so trying to reestablish a sense of identity and purpose at home and at work has been exhaustingly and frustratingly difficult.  Whether its coming up with new ideas for work, or even finding a workout that resonates with me, its been all ebb and very little flow it feels like.

A few weeks ago I was dreading another week of treadmill workouts or outdoor runs and as a consequence I was looking around for different cardio workouts and settled on the Insanity DVD.   I only just started it yesterday, because in addition to the Insanity DVD, I’m working my way back to a workout that I’ve always come back to since high school – weight training, heavy weight training.  Like I’ve said before, I have no ambition to become the next female hulk, but I have a lot of admiration for the aesthetic muscle physique of figure competitors.   So I’ve been working towards that as a new physical goal.  I’m not sure I’ll ever get to the point of competing, but I’d like to see where heavy lifting can take me and my body personally.  A few years back I got into what was arguably the best shape of my life running the half marathon, but I can’t deny the lack of enthusiasm I had for the majority of my runs, especially the longer ones.  There are so many more options for cardio, that my first thought was why was I forcing myself to log miles that were miserable to me?  There was no mental clarity and there was certainly no joy in it, save the few early morning easy does it runs.   Even in high school, I opted for sprints rather than distance runs.  I have nothing but the greatest respect for distance runners, but it just isn’t my thing.  But once I made the decision to turn off the treadmill and pick up my dumbbells again, workouts have been enjoyable, I’m craving them at the end of the day and HATE HATE HATE rest days.  I feel completely refreshed, I’m constantly reading up on different exercises and training techniques.  I’ve revamped my nutrition to focus on maximum muscle gain, which is especially challenging when eating a mostly Vegan diet.  A lot of body builders rely on high protein, low carb foods such as eggs, chicken and other lean meats, whereas the vegetarian and vegan alternatives, while still impressively high in protein, are still more carb heavy than lean meats.  While this isn’t a major issue now, it does affect my macronutrient ratio (Carbs, proteins and fats) and if I’m ever in a contest prep mode, carb cycling will be especially difficult.   But for now, I’m tracking my meals for the macro content mostly and to make sure I’m getting ENOUGH calories (another major mind shift from the all cardio all the time mentality I had been struggling with).   Lately I’ve been relying on veggie tofu scrambles and protein powders and have gotten creative in the kitchen with some baking (hello protein breads and homemade protein bars) and even tried my hand at making some Seitan this weekend for a high protein alternative. 

I’ve just finished week 2 of some heavy lifting and honestly , week one was a bit of a hodgepodge of workouts.  I’m taking measurements and progress pictures and logging all workouts and weights in a workout journal as well as taking appropriate weight training supplements like protein powder and BCAAs to try and promote muscle recovery and growth.  As for cardio? Long gone are the days of distance running, which can actually do less for muscle growth than HIIT and sprints.  I’m trying to incorporate at least one day of sprints into my workouts during the week and slowly make my way through the Insanity DVDs.  Its been strange, since a big part of gaining muscle mass is to gain mass overall, but the trick – is to do it in a smart way, with protein and complex carbs, rather than higher fat and sugar. 

So far its been fun and I’m grateful for the resurgence of motivation when it comes to my workouts, which has filtered into other parts of life at home. I’m happier, feel far more accomplished in the evenings and enjoy sitting down on the couch for some Football and Baseball more than ever now.   Now…if only I had the same aha moment at work…

Happy Monday ya’ll!  Thanks for listening to this hodgepodge rambling so early in the week!



Back on track: how

September 4, 2013

Last week I let on that this week would be all about getting “back on track”.  In an attempt to do so I spent a good bit of time thinking about how I wanted to do that – workouts, mentally and nutritionally.

On the workout front, I managed to finally, finally get back outside for a run.  Since moving, I developed an inexplicable aversion to running outside in my neighborhood, for the ENTIRE summer.  Thoughts like “oh, the kids will see me and what will they THINK?”  would sneak through my head.   And I am the first to admit they are perhaps some of the most ridiculous and ludicrous thoughts, ever.  When I trained for my half marathon, I’d be out in the snow and rainy winter nights in OTHER people’s neighborhoods to get in my runs, but yet, running in my own had my butt parked firmly inside.  I did get in some treadmill runs, but staring at my basement wall is oh.so.interesting. when it comes to helping those minutes crawl by.   It wasn’t a long run, persay – about 3.5 miles, but after limiting myself to mile interval runs lately, it was nice to see that my body could still run for distances more appropriate for a full length “run”.  And of course, like most things – once I got started, it was one of those “wait, why was I worried about this again?” moments.  Which we all saw coming, I’m sure.   I topped off the run with 2 hours of mowing the lawn, with a non-self propelled mower.  You never fully appreciated hills in a yard until you have to haul a lawn mower up them for 2 hours in the heat. Yikes.  Needless to say, with a run and the mowing – my legs were pretty tired by the end of my morning. 

I’ve also decided to try something fun and new with my workout routines this month to keep things interesting and frankly hold myself accountable.  I’ve never really been a fan of workout dvds, mostly because I feel pretty ridiculous marching in place while staring at ladies in pastel leotards and legwarmers (thanks mom, for that childhood memory).  Although, I would probably sweat to the oldies with Richard Simmons anyday of the week.  Kidding.  Sort’ve.   Moving on.  Plus, I never stuck with a dvd long enough to see any “results”. 

I will always be an advocate of regular, no excuses exercise – hopping on a bike, getting in a walk, a run or lifting – etc etc.  But like I said, trying to keep things fresh and fun over here, plus with my legs being sore and overall just tired from the weekend of moving  – I purchased the Jillian Michaels 30 days to Ripped DVD workout series and her killer butt and thighs dvd (a constant trouble spot for me).  The Ripped is a 4 week series of workouts featuring her 3-2-1 system of 3 strength moves, 2 cardio moves and 1 set for abs for 30 minutes (including warm up and cool down), with 3 separate rounds per workout, changing it up each week for 30 days.  The purchase included a meal plan, but after giving it a brief glance over, I was pretty confident that my current eating habits, while could always do with some tweaking, don’t need a major overhaul.  Now,  I’m not kidding myself into thinking that these workouts alone will get me results that diligent cardio and weight training will ultimately do, but the goal for me is to incorporate the workouts on days that I’m not running or doing heavier lifting as a way to keep toned, gain endurance, etc.   So last night, with strict instruction to Brandon that if he dared to walk into the bedroom while I was working out he’d be toast, I went for round 1 of Ripped with Jillian Michaels.    The workout didn’t have me dripping with sweat, but my legs and arms were definitely tired by the end without feeling overly wasted from the workout.  I enjoyed that it wasn’t too “aerobic” in style and of course, I’m a big fan of working out multiple muscle groups with one strength move – which most of her moves incorporated.  There were also a good number of pushups and forced ab time, which I need – since I tend to wimp out on the abs in my own workouts (shame shame shame) and pushups are something I think are badass if you can do more than a few at a time.   I haven’t tried the butt and thighs workout yet, but may try that tonight with some cardio tacked on. 

And because being healthy isn’t just about what we eat and how we workout – I’ll leave you with some shots from our weekend, where I was determined to experience something beautiful, although the three don’t have to be mutally exclusive, which we proved this weekend – enjoying a morning of hiking in beautiful beautiful PA.   


ImageHope everyone had a relaxing labor day weekend and are starting off the “new school year” right!  🙂


Man – 2 miles.  2 miles and a lifting session.  That’s all I managed to get in for workouts this week.  To be fair, we had a few late nights and other “to dos” to take care of, but man.  2 miles and a lifting session.  2 workouts.  Bummer. 

But, miles are miles – as a good friend reminded me last night during my self loathing session.  And there are a few things I can learn from this week of laziness/somethingcameup/I’lldoittomorrow/thisonebitewon’thurt. 

1.  I am very competitive with myself.  Even if I know that 2 miles is all I’ll have time to squeeze in between steaming and sauteing dinner, I still hit that 2 mile mark and think “was that even worth it?”.  I felt this way during training.  And in the end its an incredibly unfair mindset.  Yes.  2 miles is ALWAYS worth it.  Walk it, jog it, run it, sprint it.  Less miles or more miles.  It is always worth it.  Even if it is hard to be ok with it and to not keep going. Worth it. 

2.  A week of guzzling water followed by a week of “another cup of decaf” “another mug of tea” and not a lot of water guzzling is a pretty effective way of showing the benefits of water. 

3.  Even if its visible only to me, a week of not working out consistently and giving in to the seemingly harmless snack cravings – has a definite effect. Physically and mentally. 

4.  Finding a balance between all of that is HARD. 

5.  Inspiration can be inspiring.  No inspiration can be numbing. 

6.  Weeks where I eat healthy and by all accounts should feel the need to workout are exactly the times when I WANT to workout and is easier to motivate myself to accomplish.  Weeks where I don’t eat as healthy and are logically the times that workouts need to step it up a bit to compensate are likewise the times that I don’t want to workout and find a million and one reasons not to.  Funny how that works…

So there you have it.  A nice list of things I have thought to myself this week. 

Also: That bourbon and grapefruit juice cocktail I told you about?  I made this one.   It tasted remarkably similar to a whiskey sour.  


Which was good, but not what I was in the mood for.  Although its good to know I can get the same style drink without the mix.  So I finished off my night with that dirty martini I’d been craving.  


Tonight I get to meet up with some long lost friends at an Irish pub to kick off the long weekend.  I’ve got big plans for bike rides, coffee on the couch, college football (!??!), a bottle of red wine and starting off on the right foot workout wise.  Hope everyone has a good labor day weekend planned!


It is Friday again (yay!) and if you remember, last Friday I was making a Cajun Margarita.  



I have to say – as far as presentation goes, kudos to me.  And the drink itself was actually decent and definitely delivered on the cajun front.  My only two “mehs” about this drink were really of my own doing – after the picture was taken I decided to get extra fancy and drizzle some hot sauce on top as a garnish, which  worked for a short while.  Eventually though, the hot sauce balled up and sank down into the drink, which left me with little pellets of hot sauce in every couple of sips, which set my mouth on FIRE.  Again, not a fault of the original recipe, just me being me. 

The second issue – I should really learn that I just do not like salt-rimmed drinks.  I took one sip with the salt and immediately made a mess trying to wipe it off the rest of the glass.    So in the end, I went for one of B’s homemade vodka lemonades.  


The jury is still out on which drink looks prettier – which my husband rolled his eyes at, but honestly, we have the glasses, might as well use them! And who doesn’t like to have their drinks have a little more fun?

Despite all of this, the sense of “yay I tried it and it was new and that’s fun” was a good feeling on a Friday night, even if I don’t think I’ll be making that particular drink again anytime soon.  But here’s my problem – I now have a bottle of tequila sitting on my shelf and this strange self determination that I WILL learn to like margaritas. And you know, its Friday again and why fix it if it ain’t broke?  So – for my next trick:

blueberry mint margaritas

With mint straight from the garden and a bottle of red sitting in the corner…just in case 🙂

Also, these may or may not (emphasis on the may) have happened this afternoon.  I’m waiting for B to get home so he can eat them all.  I licked the spoon and they are going to be a serious sweet overload.   I haven’t been eating a lot of sugar lately other than in the form of fruits, so these are a bit of a switch – we’re heading for a bike ride tomorrow with some friends, so I can a) work off the indulgence of tonight and b) give away some of these suckers.  I did however make them a touch healthier (lets be honest here) by switching out the ingredients for Newman O’s, Brown Rice Krispies and Earth Balance.  Not technically vegan, because of the marshmallows (gelatin), but sometimes a treat is a treat- and finding vegan friendly marshmallows in small town PA isn’t as easy as it sounds…

Now, just waiting for the 2nd half to get here so I can start the chips and salsa destruction.  

Happy Friday ya’ll!