Weekend Catch Up!

Time for a peek back at the weekend!

Friday morning, started off with a strength workout before work. I ran through a dumbbell circuit before finishing up with a plyometric workout. My breakfast of choice was this egg, cheese, and chicken sausage sandwich with blueberries and pineapple on the side.

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After work, I met my friend Bobby in the city for a concert. On my walk over to the restaurant where we had dinner, I had to stop and capture this moment.

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It was absolutely mesmerizing, this moment where city meets nature.

Dinner before the show was a little unimpressive considering how delicious the dish sounded. I opted for mani mani in a tomato based sauce with peppers, but the fish didn’t have a ton of flavor. I could definitely recreate this at home with the right spice mixture! Sure did look good, though.

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Bobby and I have been fans of Idina Menzel for a long time now. It was great to be able to see her in concert!

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The highlight of the show, and there were a ton of amazing moments, had to be when she called up all the kids to help her sing Let it Go. I seriously almost started to cry. I think I’m going to have to go with this moment, magnified by watching someone so talented do something incredible with that talent, as my Friday moment of strength.

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I was up Saturday morning to work early. I had poached eggs over toast and a banana for my breakfast but didn’t get a picture. For lunch, I munched on a large salad and a turkey and cheddar wrap.

After work, I headed out as the sun began to go down for a magnificent run around a local lake. I don’t know why I don’t do this route more often. Sticking around my neighborhood is more convenient, but this area is still hilly so the terrain prevents a nice challenge, yet it’s not so extreme that I can elongate my run. The lake is five miles around on the nose and I felt strong throughout. It’s strange because running hasn’t left me feeling great after for the past few months, but recently things have improved and I’ve loved it again!

Extra points for running this route…this view after. Not one ounce of alteration.

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This would absolutely constitute as my Saturday moment of strength, sitting on a log and looking out into the water as my body rested.

I had a waffle with a smear of peanut butter right when I got home, then feasted on a salmon salad for my dinner. Later, we went over my neighbor’s house for some s’mores and conversation before an early to bed call for me.

Sunday was busy! I had to open at work so it was a bit of a shock to be called out of bed by my alarm. I had enough time to make eggs and some waffles for my breakfast, which helped me wake up and be okay in the alert world. Right after work, I drove to my friend Erin’s bridal shower, for whom I am honored to be one of her bridesmaids.

Erin is my first friend from college to be getting married. It’s kind of strange for the four of us to be celebrating this momentous occasion, but wonderful too! We had a great day and I think Erin enjoyed herself.

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We didn’t have time for many pictures, but here is a nice one of me and my friend/college roommate Stephanie.

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The rest of Sunday was spent at my sister’s house having dinner and watching Father of the Bride. I cannot get over how young the entire cast looks in that movie, especially Steve Martin. With the grey hair, I used to think he was so old! Not to mention how young the marrying couple are makes me feel very old. Lauren and I ordered an Indian food spread that included vegetarian samosas, garlic naan, chicken tikka masala, saag paneer, and basmati rice. It had been awhile since I had Indian and I had a real hankering for it. The food was decent, but lacking in spices like my dinner on Friday! It was nice to spend some sisterly quality time together regardless. Sister bonding made up my moment of strength on Sunday- both in regards to my actual sister and my college friends!

I kicked off Monday with another morning workout. I love my morning workouts, though it’s hard to justify waking up so early on days that I don’t have to, which is why they haven’t been happening on a consistent basis. I did a dumbbell strength workout including bicep curls, tricep extensions, alternating front raises, shoulder raises, weighted lunges, and high pulls. For my core workout, I ran through a circuit of kneeling kickbacks, tricep push ups, alternating ankle grabs, crunches, Russian twists, and side plank push ups. For cardio, I did some plyometric work that included box jumps, high knees, skater jumps, and jump roping. To finish my workout, I did a little Yoga with planks, shoulder stands, and a bridge.

My breakfast was delicious! I scrambled two eggs and two egg whites with some cheese, toasted a piece of whole wheat cinnamon raisin bread, and chopped up some strawberries and banana for sweetness.

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I packed a great lunch for work too! It consisted of a vegetable laden salad with chicken and a cup of plain Greek yogurt and oodles of red grapes. Red grapes are huge in my family right now.

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I snacked on a few celery and carrot sticks for an extra veggie kick later in the day.

For dinner, I enjoyed grilled salmon, roasted Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, and buttered, cheesy pasta.

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My moment of strength came during my studying time as it really hits me how complicated and beautiful the body is. The particular moment of clarity was reading about muscle spindles and how they protect the body from overextending its muscles when stretching. There is a stretch reflex that kicks in as you simply lift your leg. I mean, this is simple stuff, but it never occurred to me as to how impressive it all is!

It was a happy Monday and a wonderful weekend. Any moments of strength, joy, food, or exercise you want to share?

Homemade It Up!

Well, hello there! 

Let’s start off with yesterday’s source of strength. For my workout, I ran outside and it just happened to be as it was growing dark, so the beautiful moonlight shone over me. It took me awhile to get into things because I was on the track and feeling a little bored, but as it got darker, I felt stronger, so I was able to push myself through my four miles. I actually would have been able to run longer had I not had to pee (!), but I sprinted the last leg of the lap and have never in my life ran so hard. I felt like I was flying and it was an amazing thing!

My lunch yesterday was a product of me feeling creative. I put a salad together, poached two eggs, and enjoyed them altogether. I also had a slice of cinnamon raisin toast to top things off. It was quite tasty!

  
Dinner after my moonlit run was pizza and salad. I guess I was so excited about it that I forgot to snap a picture. I’m pretty sure you know what it looks like.

I woke up this morning with a hankering for waffles, but I decided to go the homemade route. It was really easy because of the Kodiak Cake mix, which is an all natural pancake/waffle mix. All I needed to do was add water. For a little spice, I added in some cinnamon to the batter. I topped the waffles with a little butter and syrup. Blueberries and bananas were my fruit source and for some protein, I had a cup of Greek yogurt with a spoonful of peanut butter and some grapes. This is my favorite yogurt flavor! How pretty are those waffles?!

  
Harry Potter is always creeping in the corner in this house.

Breakfast was followed by a great workout. I started with a kettlebell circuit and performed three sets of sixteen reps each. The moves were swings, goblet squats to high pulls, tricep push backs, shoulder to knee presses, kickback rows, and weighted step ups. I moved onto some medicine ball workouts, also three sets of sixteen reps. This circuit was side lunges with arrow chops, wall tosses with split squats, wall rotations, mermaid raises, elevated hip lifts, and Russian twists. I was sweating hard by the time I hopped into the pool for a half hour lap swim.

Before heading off to work, I had some leftovers for lunch. I finished off my chickpea medley and a little bowl of macaroni and cheese. Delicious!

Now off to grab some dinner and spend some quality time with my textbook. Cheers!

Strength in Nature

Yesterday’s workout consisted of a strength training circuit that focused on moves meant to support the big six I did the day before. I focused on higher reps and lower weights, running through the circuit four times with twelve reps each. I did bicep curls, shoulder raises, tricep extensions, front raises, weighted lunges, and deadlift squats to high raises. After, I ran through a core circuit, same amount of sets and reps- kneeling kickbacks, mermaid raises, v push ups, hundreds to v ups, hip lifts, and bicycle crunches. For cardio, I hopped in the pool for a 40 minute lap swim.

At home, I was glad to have leftovers for lunch so that I wasn’t in a rush to get off to work. This chickpea dish is delicious, though next time, I think I’ll be more contemplative when it comes to spices. I like spices, but I don’t know how to utilize them in my recipes, so more research must be done! A piece of buttered raisin toast and a cup of plain Greek yogurt with a spoonful of peanut butter and a handful of grapes completed my meal.

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I’m loving all the standing work entails! My hips and butt don’t feel as sore from sitting all day and I can already feel my legs grow stronger as they get accustomed to standing so much again. Nothing was quite like teaching when it came to standing/running around all day!

Dinner was a plate with crockpot buffalo chicken, broccoli, asparagus, and red peppers with a drizzle of ranch over everything. I had a separate bowl for some macaroni and cheese. After a long day, it was a great way to end things.

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I curled up to read for awhile after before drifting off to sleep.

This morning, I took the time to whip up my favorite peanut butter pancakes. They were delightful topped with more peanut butter, jelly, and shredded coconut and paired with a side of bananas and blueberries. I’m still full with these protein and nutrient dense cakes! They’re quite pretty too!

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Now’s time to talk about what gave me strength yesterday, something I promised in another post, but didn’t get to it last night. After work, I was walking outside with my friend when we saw lightning a way’s away from us. It was strange because there was no thunder and it wasn’t raining, so it was just one of those heat things. I tried to get a picture that captured the beauty of the illuminated night sky, but I don’t think I did it justice.

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Standing in a field, surrounded by nature, filled me with the realization of how insignificant the small and petty things in life are. We always need reminders of this. The gift of having seen this lightning show for just a few minutes helped me to see that strength is not always something we seek. Sometimes it entails going out into the world and living in it. These small blessings surround us every day.

*A brief aside: There may be good in this world, but terrible things do still happen, like earlier this morning during the news broadcast. I don’t know why we keep hurting each other and why we remain immobilized from making changes. Living in a world where we’re afraid to live in it (and validated in that fear), is not much of a life at all. For now, we can focus on the victims. Be kinder, love harder, do good.

I Almost Choked on a Lemon Seed

My title really has nothing to do with this post, except that while trying to come up with a clever title, I almost choked on a lemon seed. Proceed with caution.

What’s going on with the summer weather? I can handle hot, and somewhat humid, when the sun is shining and I can study by the pool (or at least look outside), but this downcast look is not good for the soul. We’re in the last week of August!

I know technically it’s not the end of summer until well into September, but thanks to school, I will always feel as though September is the real start of a new year. I really think that part of my desire to teach was due to my nostalgic love of preparing for a new school year: clothes shopping, supply shopping, that fresh dose of hope and starting over. Fall adds to the feeling. Alas, it wasn’t enough for me to want to continue, but I’m still glad I had all of those experiences.

Despite my love for fall, I’m not ready for summer to be over, which means I want more pool and beach days, BBQ in the backyard, and summer shandys! Listen, I’m picky about alcohol and beer in particular so the other night at Harry Potter trivia, when they told me they were sold out of shandy for the summer, I had to order a pumpkin beer. Too soon! But I had to get something I knew I liked. Don’t look at me like that…

Changing the subject, last night, my brother made us stir-fry for dinner. He grilled the chicken to perfection and tossed together some brown rice, peppers, and broccoli and mixed it with a dash of soy and teriyaki sauce. It was delicious and a healthy, nutritious meal to end the day. I suspect he keeps making dinner so he can be included on the blog. Thanks, Jimmy!

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Even though I enjoyed my breakfast sandwich for breakfast yesterday, I was chagrined to learn it was National Waffle Day. I’ve been craving waffles these past few weeks, so it would have been an opportune time to enjoy them. This is the danger of having all of these days!

To celebrate belatedly, I heated up two of them today to join my eggs. Chopped jalapeños, tomato, and red bell pepper accompanied my scramble, finalized with a sprinkling of cheese. Rounding out the meal was this bowl of fruit. Gotta say, the raspberries were not as impressive as they have been, but the blueberries and banana were on point. While eating, I read a chapter of Harry Potter.

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As I write this, I am guzzling water in preparation for my workout in a few minutes. Otherwise, I’ve got work and studying to complete. I’ll check back in later on in the day to talk about what gave me strength today (TBD).

Dobby’s Left Sock: Should Have Gone for the Right One Too

I know what you’re going to say: “You started this 80 Days of Strength thing, then let it fall apart on the second day.” I can’t promise that I’ll be able to update every day, but I will promise to share my strength with you the next time. I had very important business to take care of yesterday and starting work at 6:30 AM was only one of them.

Once I got out of work, it was time to make my way to pick up my sister, Lauren. I had a hankering for an iced coffee all day, so I made a brief stop. Once I scooped Lauren, it was off to meet my friends Katie and Erin so that we could stake out our spots for Harry Potter trivia.

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We were sitting at the bar for a good three hours before trivia even began. This was serious business. There is not much in this life that I can claim I know well, but Harry Potter is one of them. I think there were two questions total that we had no idea, but even in those, we were close. This happened before my annual reread too! At one point, Lauren pulled mimbulus mimbletonia out of the darkest recesses of her mind and I came up with kneazle with two seconds to spare. I can’t lie and say it didn’t feel good that we were in first place the entire time. Except for when it counted, of course.

Let me just assure you that Dobby’s Left Sock did not lose because we got the questions wrong. We lost in Sudden Death because we were not positive about the answer and we didn’t bet enough points. Of course those placed in second and third would risk more and we should have too. Turns out, we were right and we would have won. This is something that will haunt me to my grave. Go ahead and put on my tombstone, “Death by Ragnuk the Goblin playing with an Erumpet Horn.” I guess you had to be there. I’m so sorry we failed you JK Rowling, but Dobby’s New-and-Improved Left Sock will be back at it as soon as another trivia event comes up and you bet your house-elf, we will bet it all. And win.

I didn’t make it back home until after 11:00 PM and I went straight to bed, considering the disappointment. Did I mention it was for money? No, no. It’s fine. It’s all just fine. (It’s too bad you can’t see my sarcastic anger in this. I bet you can feel it.) It’s almost karmic because whenever I watch Jeopardy or other game shows, I get mad when people don’t bet it all and then end up losing. I didn’t follow my own rules!

Oh, but look! Look at what Harry Potter inspired me to do:

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So where did my strength come from yesterday? Having confidence in my ability to know and do something. This might sound silly, but dominating at Harry Potter trivia is a skill. It made me feel exceedingly nervous throughout because I am an impatient person, but having the (somewhat useless) knowledge is still having knowledge. And being able to play with my sister and friends, laughing and winning and losing by default on our own terms.

This morning, I made myself an egg, cheese, and chicken sausage breakfast sandwich that I enjoyed with a side of fruit, including half a banana and a scoop of almond butter. This kept me fueled for a few hours of work before I changed into my exercise clothes and worked off my energy in the gym. I added some fuel to the tank with a serving of roasted almonds and red grapes, which kept me going and feeling strong, but not pulled down.

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It was heavy strength day and I was feeling powerful. I hit a lot of highs in my weights, which included deadlifts, clean and presses, rows, squat presses, leg presses, and bench presses. For cardio, I focused on interval training: box jumps, jump rope, skater jumps, high knees, and lunges. I was still feeling strong, so I took it onto the mat for a core workout that made my abs feel sad. I worked through a circuit of push ups, grasshoppers, alternating ankle grabs, sit ups, and a move that combined hundreds and Russian twists into one (I don’t know why I do that to myself). My body wanted to hang out in a shoulder stand for awhile as well, so I did that along with a series of planks. My final piece of my workout for the day was ten minutes on the bike, four of which consisted of cycling as fast as I could for twenty seconds and resting for ten.

For lunch, I wanted to try something a little different. Here’s one of the recipes I was talking about wanting to make that I actually made! I chopped up a sweet potato and tossed it into a pan with garlic and olive oil. I dumped in a can of chickpeas followed by chopped red pepper and baby spinach. I finished things off with a sprinkling of red pepper flakes, coriander, and onion powder. Fun Fact! I don’t like the texture of onions (except for onion rings, which is embarrassing), but I can’t deny the flavor they bring to a dish. This was a nice compromise for me!

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My strength today came in the form of simply tossing a few ingredients together and creating something healthy and delicious. Healthy eating does not mean compromising taste and enjoyment. I suppose I should also say, my strength came in having the power to lift heavy things and put them down again without dropping them on myself (or someone else).

What do you say? Are you with me on this?

Finding Strength: Uphill, Downhill, On the Way

As of late, I’ve been fascinated with strength. It wields so much power, both in the physical and emotional state. Through my emotional strength, I built physical strength. I don’t succeed if I don’t have the two strengths combined.

Picture this: you’re running; it’s hot; it’s uphill; it’s downhill; it’s uphill again; your legs say no more; your mind says stop; you stop.

Picture this: you’re running; it’s hot; it’s uphill; it’s downhill; it’s uphill again; your brain says no more; your legs stop; you stop.

Two scenarios that happen to me all the time when I run. Sometimes, it depends on the sneakers or the playlist. It could be what you had for breakfast or how much water you had during the day. It’s having to use the bathroom or the workout from the day before. Sometimes, it’s necessary to stop. Sometimes, it’s necessary to keep going. I can’t tell you what’s right in each situation. It’s a matter that relies on the mind-body connection. That connection deserves to be strong.

Strength does not just mean you have the will-power to go to the gym or that you lift heavy things and put them down. It doesn’t just mean that you avoided eating the cookie or you burned 400 calories on the elliptical. Strength does not just mean success and it does not just mean overcoming failure. Strength for you, does not mean what it does for me. It’s immeasurable. It can’t be defined. Strength is your own to build, to learn, to discover.

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Strength is having the will to lead a happy and healthy life to the best of your ability and to what you can control. To quote my favorite show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which you’d know if you were paying attention!), “The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.” So let’s live it our way.

If I did the math right, which could very well be wrong, then my 26th birthday is 80 days away. I decided to do something productive about it.

Every day, for the next 80, I want to reflect on at least one thing in which I found strength. At the end of each post, I am going to share what I found strength in that day. I would love if you would share along with me. It can be anything that makes you feel happy, strong, healthy, and powerful. It does not have to be about exercise or any other subject in particular. I know it won’t always for me.

Today, I ran 6 miles. Some of it was uphill, some of it was downhill, and some of it was flat. My legs were beneath me, my mind was above, and my spirit within. That run, during and after, gave me strength because it’s the first time I ran in weeks (maybe months) that I didn’t feel like I was struggling to get through. I didn’t feel the need to walk or to give up. I pushed through this block and I found my strength again. It feels good.

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Let’s go for 80 days strong!

If I Showed You My Flaws, If I Couldn’t Be Strong…

Last night, I had to run on the treadmill. I suppose I could have waited until the sun went down, but there was a Yoga class I wanted to attend and I love Yoga best after a strong run. The treadmill actually wasn’t all that bad and I kept a steady pace for 15 minutes, walked for 5 minutes on a high incline, ran for another 15 minutes at a slightly faster clip, walked for 5 minutes on a high incline, then ran for 10 minutes at an even faster pace. This kept things from growing boring along with a fun playlist. Currently, I am obsessed with R. City’s song with Adam Levine, Locked Away. I cooled down for a two minute walk before hopping off and heading down to Yoga.

I got home to find my brother and his girlfriend had made dinner. I guess Jimmy and Cait had tried coconut shrimp out at a restaurant and they wanted to recreate the meal. I was a little suspicious when they kept asking me about how to cook the shrimp, and I was working out during the preparation stages, but the end product was delicious. Anything with coconut is delicious. I paired my shrimp with a cup of pasta that looks overflowing on my plate and broccoli and peppers.

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I woke up this morning with a hankering for some pancakes. They were thick and fluffy and delicious with some peanut butter and jelly on top! There’s also nothing quite like summer fruit, especially of the berry variety.

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As I’m reflecting back past my California vacation (I miss it!), I’m realizing that my meals haven’t been as healthy as usual and I’m not feeling my regular strong and happy self. I know this tends to happen to me when I lose a sense of regular routine, which is already a product of summer. It’s been an odd summer with leaving my job and starting a new one that doesn’t have a 9-5 schedule (and believe me, I’m not complaining- to say that I made the right choice is an understatement), heading out for vacation, and trying to form a new schedule. Plus, the need for ice cream all the time is real 24/7.

It doesn’t help that my brain tends to want to write late at night when I know I should be in bed, but I also don’t want to break my flow. I think I just need to learn to live with a bit more flexibility and gain control not through relying on structure and routine, but on myself to be able to adapt to changes better. There are so many factors I will never be able to control, but the way I eat and take care of my body is definitely my own prerogative. Let’s take it one meal at a time, listen to my body’s signals, and how I feel after I eat.

About 90% of the time, I love exercising. I know I’m a bit of a freak in that regard, but when I’m at the gym, I feel my most powerful, I get in my zone, and it heals me. It’s a hassle that when it comes to losing weight and living healthy, about 70% of it is all about what you eat. I love to eat and for the most part, I eat really well, but when I don’t, I can’t just fix it with exercise (at least not like when I first started to lose weight). This all goes to show that I really do need to get back into the kitchen and spend the time I need to create healthy, nutritious, filling meals.

Fall’s the perfect time for that! But don’t worry, there’s no need to wait.