Snow Days Doesn’t Have to Mean Rest Days

This week, my workouts were thrown in a bit of a loop due to the snow.

Wednesday is now my off day because I have a screenwriting class that runs late on Tuesday nights. Not even that late, but late enough for an early riser!

Thursday, I was back at it for a kettlebell strength routine that was followed by twenty minutes on the elliptical. For kettlebells, I try to incorporate both strength and core moves that affect the entire body. This includes a circuit of swings, goblet squats, high pulls, shoulder raises, and kickback rows. The next circuit is core focused with tricep pullovers on the stability ball, lunges, mermaid raises, hundreds, and Russian twists. Effective!

Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to get to the gym on Saturday, I ran on Friday morning. First, I started with my go-to body strength workout that I really enjoy. Starting with step ups, I go to dips, plié squats, lunges, kickbacks, push ups, mountain climbers, mermaid raises, ankle grabs, hip lifts, bicycle crunches, and Russian twists. After a few reps of those, I completed a few planks before hopping on the treadmill. To mix things up, I like to run for five minutes flat at a medium level, ran slow on a slight incline, then fast on a flat surface. After going through that circuit twice, I ended with a five minute medium run on a flat surface, my legs were feeling it later!

Shoveling is quite an effective winter workout. After putting my share in on Saturday, I relaxed for most of the day. It wasn’t until later on that night when I was ready to do another workout. I started a strength routine using this random ten pound dumbbell I found lying around. I did ten moves, ten reps, and six sets. I finished up on the bike for a half hour watching SNL trying to mock the Patriots’ situation.

It was good to be back at the gym on Sunday, especially because my gym time was cut short this week due to the storm. Starting with a strength routine using a stability ball and medicine balls, I was nice and stretched out by the time I hit the treadmill. For my strength workout, I started with wall throws, squats, lunge twists, kickbacks, push ups on the medicine ball, and kick outs. The next circuit was more core focused, doing roll outs, elevated hip lifts, hundreds, sit ups, mermaid raises, and Russian twists. This time on the treadmill, I ran at a steady pace, moving the speed up slightly every five minutes for 35 minutes.

Monday morning came early, but as always, I felt great after. I wanted to mix things up a bit with my dumbbell strength routine and my body was happy to be fooled. An elliptical workout was on tap for my cardio, knowing I would be doing quite a bit of body strength routines on the snowy days.

House ridden on Tuesday, I got my share of exercise shoveling. I also enjoyed an at home Yoga class, and a body strength workout of the routine I mentioned above, followed by a Plyometrics workout. For this, I do box jumps, jumping jacks, high knees, skater jumps, and jump rope. It leaves me very sweaty!

Though snow days are a great excuse to do some heavy relaxing and being productive around the house, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get some exercise in, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Pair something up with some shoveling, be creative, and then go back to reading by the fireplace or bingeing on Netflix. Heck,you can workout while bingeing on Netflix!

Quality Writing Means Writing

I’m going through one of those phases where I haven’t been reading much lately. I’ve been trying to write more, which takes up a lot of my time at night. To be fair though, the biggest reason was because I became enamored by Veep, which I reviewed lovingly last week, and could not stop watching. It took me about four days to watch all three seasons. To be fair to myself, each episode was less than a half hour, enabling me to fly through them. It’s bittersweet because now I have to wait until April!

Even though I don’t have any finished books to review, I have been reading a book on screenwriting during a few minutes in the morning that I have between my workout and work. Paired with my screenwriting course, it’s been enlightening.

The majority of my writing experience has focused on short stories, both fiction and memoir, journalism and feature writing, and blurbs for the blog. I’ve enjoyed all of the types of writing I’ve tried, but something that intrigues me the most is dialogue.

I am obsessed with dialogue in movies and television, especially when it’s effective. When there’s good dialogue, you don’t even think about it, but when it’s bad, it makes you cringe. I may be a bit dramatic about it than other people, but dialogue makes or breaks a show.

One of the reasons why I think stations like HBO or Netflix are so successful is because they have no limitations on their dialogue or scenes. They are allowed to talk like real people would and don’t have to throw in fillers when sometimes swears just fit perfectly into a situation.

That’s not to say that network tv can’t have clever dialogue, they just have to be that much more cleverer and find a way around this absence.

Since I’ve started the class, I’ve found my creative spirit has liberated. I have all of these ideas I’ve been writing down and journaling and it makes me so excited to read more about screenwriting and to sit down and write!

I’m embarrassed to admit that it can sometimes be difficult for me to read nonfiction books because I find fiction to be that much more interesting, both in terms of reading and watching. If I sit down and force myself to get going, I often end up really enjoying and learning quite a bit. It’s just that, for me, I prefer to get lost in the imagination of the writer. Clearly, both have their benefits and I do try to read more nonfiction.

This book is a great resource to have, but in the end, I just have to settle down and write, write, write!

Here Comes the Snow…and the Food!

It seems that after a lack of snow this winter, we are about to get hit with it all. I’m half excited and half annoyed because I love a big snow storm, but the numbers being predicted on this one are huge.

Food last week started with these beautiful peanut butter pancakes. Full of whole grains, banana, pomegranates, peanut butter, and no added sugar, they were a healthy treat.

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In the morning, these tortilla wraps are so quick, easy, and delicious. I toss in a tablespoon of peanut butter, half a chopped banana, and some chopped strawberries. Just like with hard-boiled eggs, it gets the metabolism running and keeps me energized, but not full for my workout.

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I tried something a little different for my overnight oats. Instead of vanilla, I used almond extract, threw in shredded coconut, raisins, and chopped almonds.

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I am a huge fan of using cottage cheese in my scrambled eggs. It makes it so creamy and adds an extra pop of protein. With toast and a bowl of fruit, I had a perfect meal.

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After starting with another wrap, after my workout, I cooked up an egg over easy and made myself an egg and cheese sandwich. It’s so easy to assemble, but full of flavor and goodness.

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Hard-boiled eggs are the easiest, most portable snack. After my workout, I grilled up some toast and even had time to toast up my coconut.

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On one of the best days of the year, National a Peanut Butter Day, I made myself from French toast. Of course, I covered them with my chocolate peanut butters, some jelly, and toasted coconut. With a bowl of fruit, I was fueled through my afternoon of shoveling.

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Though I would have enjoyed taking my time and making some poached eggs, I had quite a few errands to run in the morning on Sunday, so I settled on an English muffin with peanut butter, half a banana, and blueberries. It did the trick and got me through my errands and my workout. It kind of looks like a smiley face…

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We have a favorite take out place where we get kebab Greek salads. I don’t know how they season their meat, but it’s the best. Usually I go with the chicken, but it was intrigued by the honey barbecue steak tips and they did not disappoint.

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I like to plan out my lunches for the week in advance so that I don’t have to spend time at night or in the morning putting them together. This week, I cooked up a huge portion of sesame chicken stir fry and broke them up into dishes. With an assortment of veggies, I tossed the entree onto either whole wheat pasta or brown rice. This one was whole wheat pasta.

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For a break in the week from my pre-scheduled lunches, I had a gyro with a side Greek salad. The pita bread and salad were the best parts, but it was still great.

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Here’s more of the stir fry, this time over brown rice.

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And one more again, over pasta.

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Leftover pizza and a humongous salad!

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At the back end of my errands, I stopped into Panera for a bowl of soup. I’m so sad to hear that they no longer serve whole grain baguettes. They made up for it by giving me a warm piece of bread.

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Dinners started with a spinach salad with some rotisserie chicken on top. A piece of buttered toast nicely rounded out my meal.

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I guess I forgot to take a picture of my next meal. It was a shrimp dish over whole wheat spaghetti and a ton of roasted veggies. It was a thing of beauty, but now you’ll never believe me.

Another salad, this time of the Greek variety with steak tips. I had baked up some sweat potato fries, but over salted them so they weren’t my finest. A piece of toast made it that much better.

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Friday night, my meal came in pieces. I started with this huge salad, so that I got in my veggies. After, I tucked into my pizza and a few buffalo chicken wings. I had every intention of including a picture of the second part of dinner, but it seems I was over eager.

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On the snowy evening, I grilled myself a burger, topping it with a piece of muenster and a side of veggies. For some reason, I am really digging the barbecue sauce lately, so I went with that as my condiment instead of the usual ketchup and mustard. English muffins are the best buns.

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For a family Sunday dinner, my mom made chicken cordon bleu, along with some spinach rice, roasted squash, cauliflower, and broccoli. Excellent way to end the week!

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Fuel Your Fire

My title is actually the slogan I have on two of my new workout pants. I bought them because they were cheap and great material, even if the slogan is a bit silly. I have to say though, as far as workout inspirational quotes go, this one provides decent motivation and is kind of fun!

Workouts this week started on Thursday morning with a strength workout using the stability ball. It was heavy on the legs before hopping on the treadmill for a run. I felt sweaty and energized and ready to get the day going!

On Friday, my only workout for the day was a quick walk of the dog around the block because i had an early morning wake up call and I was sore!

I was ready to go on Saturday to meet Nouha for hot Yoga. The class was stuffed, which made the already heated room, stuffy. I was slick with sweat and a bit disgusting when I sat down for lunch and couldn’t wait to shower. I waited a little bit longer so I could fit in a run after hydrating. It felt good to stretch my legs and get my heart racing.

On Sunday, after lunch, I started my workout with a dumbbell strength training routine. I went with six sets of eight reps and was nice and sweaty before I kicked off a Plyometrics workout. Starting with box jumps, I continued onto jumping jacks, high knees, skater jumps, jump rope, and ended my circuit with push ups. Besides the jumping jacks which I completed four sets of fifty and jump rope which was a minute and fifteen seconds long four times, I did four sets of twelve. Finally, I finished with a quick twenty minutes on the elliptical, knowing it would be a heavy eating night with all those apps.

Monday turned out to be busier than I expected and I didn’t make it to the gym for a full on workout. I was on my feet most of the day, grocery shopping, readying my meals for the week around the kitchen, and folding my laundry. I ended up just walking the dog for two miles and riding the stationary bike at home for forty five minutes while I watched Veep and typed up some blog posts, such as this one!

Tuesday, it was back to the early mornings with a kettlebell strength routine followed by a run. I was feeling nice and strong after having done a lighter workout the day before after two heavier days. Even though it’s on the treadmill, my running has been stable and I’m finding that with the right music, I’m able to stave off boredom.

When I’m not feeling like a straight up run, I have two running routines I go to on the treadmill. One is the 5-4-3-2-1 run/walk combination that leaves me nice and sweaty and my body constantly second guessing itself as I move throw different speeds and inclines. Starting off with a five minute walk on a lower incline, I move onto a five minute run on a flat surface at a slower pace. For four minutes, I walk again at a slightly higher incline, before running for four minutes at a faster pace. I think you get the pattern. By that last minute, I’m running pretty fast. This takes me to 30 minutes on the nose, which is great. To make things even more challenging, I like to walk for one more minute before ending my routine with Tabata intervals for four minutes. That’s only 35 minutes in the treadmill with a great workout!

The other treadmill run I’ll incorporate is pretty fun and it’s also about 35 minutes, though either could be elongated or shortened. I start running on the flat surface at a medium pace for five minutes. Depending on how I’m feeling, I’ll either then slow things down to a light run or a brisk walk and turn up the incline for another five minutes. Next, I’ll lower the incline back to 0 and rev up my pace so I’m running fast for the next five minutes. I repeat this cycle once more before ending with a final medium pace run. These are both good workouts because it changes up the pace and the incline, which prevents the body from making adjustments.

Anything that can be deemed fun and interesting always leads to a better workout, especially if you’re not in the mood to be inside in a stuffy treadmill. Do any of you have any go to workouts?

All Hail the Chief!

My only complaint about Veep is that the seasons simply are not long enough. It took me far too long to start watching because I didn’t have access to HBO, but now it’s taking me no time at all to fly through the show thus far.

From the start, the characters have defined characteristics and dynamics with one another, without getting overly sentimental with providing too much backstory. A quality show builds backstory as it continuously moves forward, careful to establish moments that an audience will find endearing.

We want to grow with characters, not be caught up in things that were supposed to happen before we “met” them.

The show reminds me of a cross between Parks and Rec and The Office, with the quirky characters, underdog storyline plots, and quick, smart humor. It almost seems that a camera crew is following them, which is not the set up of the show, but in some ways might be considered because of how it’s a political show. The media could be perceived as that camera crew because it’s always around and shows different perspectives.

I’m obsessed with the dialogue of this show and how real it seems. It flows and moves quickly, incorporating enough political jargon without being over pretentious. If I could write for a show, I would want it to be this one.

Also, something has to be said about the talent of Julia Louis Dreyfuss. People always talk about Amy and Tina-rightfully so- but look at how much Julia has done for women in comedy. She was the single female in one of the funniest, greatest shows of all time, Seinfeld. Elaine is incredibly defined in pop culture, and yet, I have no trouble in believing Julia as Selina. She is hilarious and genius as a woman in power struggling through politics and the dynamics of Washington. Sometimes she bumble and is silly, sometimes she’s mean and ruthless, but mostly she has a good heart that is prevented from doing much of anything because she’s only Veep.

I also really like all of the other characters who I can just imagine being in these positions. It almost makes me wish I could get into this line of work, which is a mark of a great show because I would be horrid in politics. I am far too dramatic, sassy, and sensitive.

Even though it took me awhile to finally get to watch it, I’m already dreading finishing this up. I’m going to need to check when it comes back because a few half hour showings of this creative genius is not enough.

All hail the Veep, or Pissface, which is one of her nicknames. Watch the show!

It’s Food Time

It’s hard to believe that it’s already Monday because this long weekend flee by! I almost forgot to post for the week, but no worries, I remembered!Oatmeal is always a great start to the week! I particularly enjoy mine warmed over the stove top, swirled with peanut butter and lots of fruit.

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I’m finding an egg and cheesestick is a perfect start for a morning workout. It’s enough to get those engines running without being overly filling. After, I enjoyed an egg sandwich that hit the spot!

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It was another eggy start the next morning before going after some peanut butter toast. There’s nothing better than a warm, toasty breakfast on a cold morning.

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I’ve learned the secret to scrambled eggs and it’s cottage cheese. It makes it so creamy and cheesy. Buttered toast and some fruit make the meal.

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More oatmeal for a Friday morning, but this time with the luxury of toasted coconut. I’m not certain why it’s so good, but it is.

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My first weekend morning breakfast were these poached eggs over toast with fruit. Delicious!

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More toast and toasted coconut made a quick breakfast on Sunday morning. Simply excellent!

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Finally, I found time to make my favorite peanut butter pancakes. This time I stuffed them with pomegranate seeds and they were amazing!

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Soup and salad was on the menu on Monday morning. I’m both excited and nervous to realize that my grocery store sells Panera soup!

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Leftover chicken pot pie with a serving of veggies made a great, quick lunch that came together seamlessly.

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More leftovers, but this time it’s pizza and a salad I chopped quickly. Roasted red pepper pizza is the best kind of pizza.

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Oh, look, more leftovers. This time, I went with a beautiful, fresh salad and a dish of macaroni and cheese. Gosh, do I love this Mac and cheese.

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This sandwich was pretty okay. It’s a whole wheat pita stuffed with chicken, cheese, spinach, and tomato with a side of veggie sticks and popcorn.

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After a hot yoga class, my friend Nouha and I went to Whole a Foods to grab lunch from the hot bar. I stuffed my plate with lots of veggies, macaroni and cheese, and chipotle lime chicken.

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On Sunday, we went out for lunch with my Grandma. I got a burger and must have been hungry because I forgot to snap a picture.

For dinners, we started the night with a homemade chicken pot pie, corn, and some French fries.

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Before going to my screenwriter’s class, I made a quick stir fry out of ingredients we already had in the fridge. It included chicken, veggies, rice, and some BBQ sauce.

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My sister and her fiancé came over for a delicious, special dinner on Wednesday night. We enjoyed some short ribs, macaroni and cheese, and lots of roasted veggies.

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This was kind of a weird assortment of foods for dinner. Grilled tilapia, a sausage, macaroni and cheese, and veggies.

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It was a very special dinner celebration on Friday night when we celebrated my cousin Maura’s birthday! With amazing people, we ate something delicious calzones, salad, and birthday cake!

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For whatever reason, I was craving hot dogs for dinner on Saturday night after my run. To keep things a touch healthy, I steamed some spinach and zucchini.

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To go along with a huge Patriot’s win on Sunday, we celebrated game day at my neighbors’ house with a ton of appetizers and desserts. Sorry I forgot a picture, I was too busy watching the Colts get hammered.

Until next week!

Exercise and Health: Even More Benefits

After my spin class on Tuesday last week, I went through a body strength workout with slightly wobbly legs. I thought it had to do with being tired from spin, but now I’m not so sure. Later on that day, the sickness hit me, and I decided that I would definitely take my rest day on Wednesday.

It proved later on that I wasn’t ready for a workout on Thursday either because my body was still recovering and exhausted. It wasn’t even that big of a deal for most of it, but it shows how sensitive the body really can be. Even this little, brief bout of weakness tore me apart.

I remember having a horrible cold over the summer this year, being incredibly dizzy and miserable, and it just puts everything into perspective.

I say this because I talk a lot about working out and how I believe it should absolutely be a normal part of your routine. And on most days, if you have little aches and pains, are tired, have a sniffle, or feel normal, then you can hype yourself up and barrel through that workout. Sometimes you’re too tired to brush your teeth, but you still do it. Or you should…

But the same thing goes for when you aren’t feeling well. You don’t have to feel guilty about not exercising on a day or two of being sick, or a few days later. I didn’t make it back to the gym until Friday night, finding it was more important to sleep in and get that extra rest, but I took it slow.

I met my sister and we went through a body strength workout at a slower, less intense pace then I am usually up for. After, we headed over to the elliptical and did a half hour on there. As I said, at the very least, the workout put me back into my routine and awakened my appetite.

On Saturday, I wanted to fit in a run, but I knew my body was still in recovery mode. I ended up alternating between walking on an incline and running for a little over an hour. It was an excellent workout anyways, but because I took it slow, the exercise ended up motivating my recovery, rather than stifling it. Exercise should be viewed as a means to maintain a healthy, happy body. As much as it’s important to rest, it’s also important to allow it to improve your health.

Lauren and Nick met me on Sunday and I led them through two kettlebell circuits. Before they got there, I did about fifteen minutes on the elliptical to warm up. I’m happy to note that the fitbit counts steps on the elliptical. We finished the workout going between box jumps and jump roping before finishing with some planks.

It felt good and revitalizing to get my workouts flowing again.