Sometimes, The Body Knows More Than The Mind

About two weeks ago, my friend Christine texted me a question that arose from my blog. Due to unfortunate circumstances, it took me this long to answer (though I did answer her in person right away, for the record). She was curious as to what I do with eating before a workout. It all depends on the time of my workout and if I’m in a crunch or can take my time.

If I’m heading to a class in the morning or otherwise occupied in the afternoon and need to fit it in, I am no stranger to eating something on the way to the gym. It sounds like a crime, which is why I said it with italics. I give myself every second of sleep that I can afford, so yes, there are often times that I am in a rush, chugging gallons of water, sips of coffee, and snarfing down a quick peanut butter wrap to rev up my metabolism and fuel my workout. I’m only mildly ashamed.

Strange thing though, it works for me.

I keep my meals quick and easy in these circumstances, sticking to carbs and protein. My favorite is the aforementioned peanut butter wrap, which includes a whole wheat tortilla and a tablespoon of peanut butter. Boom. Perfection in an oddly wrapped cylinder. Another excellent combination is a hard-boiled egg with a cheesestick or a handful of trail mix- Trader Joes’ peanut butter cup mix is a personal favorite. A banana and peanut butter will never steer you wrong, but I tend to avoid lots of fruits and veggies right before working out because they fill you with fiber and don’t leave you feeling light and airy.

Before heading out to a Zumba class my friend Shonna teaches, I had a little bit of extra time, so I found a recipe online to try for something a little different.

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I know you’re confused because I would be too if I hadn’t made it. Looks a little eggy, but doughy as well, yeah? Well, it’s a protein pancake made mostly of egg whites with some oats, vanilla, cinnamon, and mashed banana. It was also huge without being too filling. I topped it with some butter and syrup to sweeten it up. Though the texture was strange, it wasn’t altogether terrible and I did enjoy it. It also didn’t sit in my stomach like a rock while I was hopping around in Zumba, so yay!

My post-workout snack included this big bowl of kefir filled to the brim with strawberries, blueberries, and a couple of almonds thrown on top for a hit of fat and crunch. Between yogurt, kefir, and cottage cheese, I like kefir the most because it’s tangy like frozen yogurt and smooth. Note, don’t love chunks!

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I kept my workout to Zumba today because I’m nursing a sore calf. Not sure what happened, but it started hurting yesterday while I was training, so I’ve been stretching and rolling it out every few hours. Yesterday, I did fit in a quality run. My calf wasn’t aching or sore during it, so I think the movement actually helped stretch it out. Since it’s so nice out again today, I’ll try to stretch it out with a walk in a little while.

Back to today’s main topic, eating before a workout, if I have a few hours, I stick with my normal eating routine, typically enjoying a good sized breakfast (favorite meal of the day!), drinking tons of water, coffee and tea, and then about an hour and a half to two hours of digesting, I’m good to go for a strong workout!

Obviously this would vary depending on the type of workout you are about to do. I find that when I’m running, my body is very fickle and I’m still trying to find balance for it. For instance, there is such a thing as having too much water during a run that it bloats and makes you have to pee- not a fun feeling when you’re trying to keep stride and very distracting- or not enough that you’re dehydrated and not energized. Same goes for food because your stomach can’t be too full, but it also needs something to burn for energy. The only workout I find that I don’t want to eat beforehand is during Yoga, but even then I usually pair it with some form of cardio, so I need something.

Eating in general can be overwhelming. There is so much information out there that tells us “exactly” what we should do and that “exactly” changes about every two-three days depending on all sorts of studies. Stay educated, even while reading through different articles and following advice. Every single thing that works for me, will not work for you and vice versa. Our bodies are machines that operate in similar ways, but even when the mechanics are the same, we’re all so different. Explore a little, see what works and what doesn’t and make note of it. The very best thing you can do to and for your body is to listen to it. It tells us what it needs.

I think I’ll do another post somewhere down the line about what to eat post-workout. When our bodies are hungry and revved up, our brains sometimes confuse signals with what we should be eating versus what we want to be eating. Balance, my friends. Balance is a challenging, but necessary part of life.

With anything, just keep trying, accept failure, measure success, and enjoy the process.

Warming Up the Winter

Right now, I’m gearing up to go out for a run because I can’t get over how mild it is. It’s not by any means warm, but for this time of year, wowsa! Anything that can take me off the treadmill and into the real world works for me.

I started my morning with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before heading off to work for some training sessions. I still get nervous in my preparation mode, but so far, I’ve been having a blast!

By the time I got home, I was starving, but in the mood for a weird combination of foods. I was craving an egg sandwich, so I popped in an english muffin and topped it with a slice of provolone, a chicken sausage, and an egg. While everything was cooking, I enjoyed a few carrots to munch on to curb my hunger. To go with my sandwich, I sautéed spinach and had a handful of tortilla chips. Weird assortment, but fulfilling.

I’ll take us back to last night’s dinner, which was blackened salmon, sweet potato fries, and a mixture of cauliflower, peppers, and brussels sprouts.

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Going back even further, we can sneak a peek at yesterday’s lunch. It was a huge salad with a leftover piece of pizza topped with artichokes, mushrooms, and spinach.

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My workout included circuits working the biceps, shoulders, and back. Along with the strength training, I did some core work as well as sprints on the elliptical. It’s strange because the body parts that are hurting today are the ones I worked out on Monday, legs, triceps, and chest. Although, no matter what I do, I never seem to have sore biceps. It’s weird.

Now I’m off to bundle up and enjoy a bit of sunshine!

I’m Not Paranoid, But…

I’m not saying I’m paranoid, but if you have a Mac (or a computer in general), then you’ve probably noticed the little green light near the camera lens glow when you haven’t turned on the camera. I’d taken to ignoring it in the past, but then I was babysitting my neighbor and she had a piece of tape over hers and I had to ask about it. It’s a precaution that is unfortunate and not altogether overcautious considering this world in which we live. Regardless of whether it’s necessary, the tape that now graces my screen makes me feel just a bit better. Let’s not be creepy, people!

I’m ashamed to admit that it didn’t take long for me to forget to snap a photo of my meals before I eat. The only meal I have to show you in the past 24 hours is this one from dinner. Chicken stir fry chock full of vibrant veggies and brown rice.

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It is a thing of wonder.

My workout yesterday consisted of strength training that hit my triceps, chest, and legs. Lately, I’ve been doing four exercises for each part of the body and three sets of fifteen reps each. It creates a good burn, but a burn nonetheless. Since focusing more on endurance, I’ve noticed that I’ve still been able to go up in weight, which is satisfying. After the strength portion, I focused on some core work before hopping on a bike for some Tabata sprints.

Other than exercising, writing, and working, I’ve been watching Chelsea Handler’s new docu-series on Netflix, Chelsea Does, and thus far, I’ve loved it. I’ve always found her funny- i.e. when I met her at a book signing and she signed my book “Caitlin sucks eggs, Love Chelsea.”- and I watched Chelsea Lately a ton, but this new series has a serious and poignant edge to it that raises a lot of good questions and portrays interesting perspectives to difficult or not well-known topics. I’ll go more in-depth once I finish the series, but I highly recommend it and I am looking forward to her new series debuting!

As to how I’m doing, I can admit that the pain isn’t as fresh, but I’m not healed. There’s a sorrowful glow that sits in my stomach. This morning, the blankets had bunched up around my legs and it reminded me of when he would curl up on my bed and later, I heard a noise that sounded like the thud Bandit would make when he jumped up on my desk. Then I remember what happened and it hits me all over again.

Yet, we keep on going because living our lives is a wondrous thing.

Life After…

Coming back to a normal routine after death is a challenge. Bandit was such a fixture in my everyday life and I keep waiting for him to come around the corner, meow, or be lounging around on one of our beds or couches. The last week was a blur, but I kept busy with work and other things. It’s strange to be in mourning, yet keep going and finding a new normal. I wasn’t feeling especially inspired to blog last week because somehow logging my meals didn’t feel right when I was so sad. And I didn’t want to keep harping on the point. Things around here will be consistent again.

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It’s funny because while something so devastating has happened, other parts of my life are coming together. I am happy to announce that I will be starting to put my Personal Training certificate to good use officially! It’s so great to get to inspire people and help them find health and happiness.

Heading back to the weekend, it was packed, starting with Thursday. My workout included two kettlebell circuits with a friend before I hopped on the treadmill for a walk/run/sprint session. After work, I went out for Mexican with my friend Molly. I selected the steak fajita salad that had tasty grilled steak over greens with peppers, tomatoes, and cheese. Yum! We stopped for ice cream before heading home, despite how cold it was. Note: It is never too cold for ice cream. I will always persevere. I hadn’t seen Molly in so long so it was great to catch up!

On Friday, my day started with a crushing Spin class and some at-home Yoga. After my shift, I headed out for an impromptu dinner with a few of my co-workers. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time and I really needed it.

Saturday morning, my alarm got my heart racing because I had been in a deep sleep. Once I’m up, I don’t mind the morning shift, but it was hard pulling myself out of bed in the dark! When my shift ended, I fit in my workout that was a total body strength session. With muscles burning (in the best of ways), I met my parents and grandma for lunch before the semi-storm. The storm that never really was, at least to Boston standards, was calming in a sense as we all were bundled up inside, watching the Bruins and then Inside Out. There’s something special about sleeping in a warm bed when you know the snow is falling outside.

I can’t say that Sunday wasn’t a disappointment, at least when it comes to the Patriots. Neither team played particularly great, except the Broncos’ defense, but I always expect them to pull it off in the end, so it was a shock when they lost. The social aspect of the game was still fun. I went with my friends Nouha and Sarah to a local bar for some nachos, wings, and beers, then back to Nouha’s couch to lounge on the couch and watch the crushing loss. To ease our sorrowed hearts, we played a few rounds of a card game then got absorbed in some of those Buzzfeed personality quizzes. Sometimes, they are spot on, it’s weird.

I won’t feel guilty about all the indulging, especially on Sunday, because I did have a kicks workout, including a body strength circuit and a run. But I will say, I am very much looking forward to healthy eating today as I don’t love the feeling of being overly stuffed. Whew.

Now we’re back to Monday morning. Hope everyone survived the storm in their neck of the woods. Let’s make this week a good one!

 

 

For Bandit

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Dear Bandit,

Thank you for letting me be your crazy cat lady. It’s because of this that I now have hundreds of pictures to look at when I miss you. Right now, I feel as though my heart has been ripped out of my chest, but I think it physically happening could not hurt as much as this does. My heart feels empty and my gut full of sorrow. I keep expecting to see your head pop up from the bed when I walk in the room or peep around the corner when you sneak out from the basement.

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When we first got you those fourteen years ago, I was a skeptical cat owner. I didn’t want a pet or the grief that ultimately came with losing it. I had just lost two grandparents and the pain was fresh and I wondered why we had to bring that risk into our lives again. Though you were never one to shy away from a bite or a raised paw, you purred your way into our hearts with your snuggles and soft fur and strange antics. Now that I’ve lost you, and I cannot fathom that I am typing these words or writing this post, I know that all of this pain I feel now was worth even just a second of our time with you.

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Mortality suppresses itself behind the routine of everyday living before unveiling itself under the worst of circumstances, grief, the most blinding and genuine emotion one can feel. You were our everyday, our routine, one of us, and that’s why it hurts so much now. You no longer come down from a long day’s nap to swat us out of our seats and watch TV with us. You don’t bound up the stairs for bedtime in order to secure your spot or down the stairs to greet us when we walk through the door to come home. Home does not feel as safe and as warm and as happy without you.

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In the mornings when I’m still lying in bed, I still wait for the meow of protest willing me out of bed and to pat you, or the crunching of friskies as you grab a snack before returning to your nap. I want to shine your mouse laser at the wall and see you jump, swing a string above your head and laugh when you pretend not to care then jump for it like you can’t help yourself. I want to sit on the couch with you as you look out the window or lie with you at my feet as I go to bed at night. I just want you back.

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In time, we will find solace in our fourteen years of memories. I may be able to look at these pictures, reminisce about your life, and say your name without bursting into tears. Sunday was the hardest day of my life because I had to do one of the hardest things I ever will. I know it was best for you, ultimately, because we didn’t want you to suffer. But holding you in my arms and whispering how much I loved you as you went peacefully from this world will haunt me as much as comfort me in your memory. Coming home without you was like never coming home at all.

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We die hundreds of deaths every time someone we love passes away, friend, family, pet, or all. I did what I needed to, for you, because for me, you were my sound board and my comfort, my softness in a hard world, and I will never forget that. I felt safe and loved when I could press my forehead against yours and you wouldn’t even bite me in disgust.

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All of these words are not enough to convey how much I love you, how much I miss you, and how grateful I am to have had you. There is a hole in my heart and an empty space in my bed. I hope there is a laundry basket filled with warm blankets and freshly laundered clothes waiting for you.

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Sweet Bandit, goodbye for now.

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Love,

Your Family

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Happy Birthday, Maura

Today marks the birthday of one of my very favorite people in this world. Thanks for the many trips to New York, Connecticut, into Boston, and at the Stage Door; for being a voice of reason and support; a vote of constant confidence and wisdom; for being the best cousin and Godmother; and for your overall kindness and brilliance.

May your day be as wonderful as you are, Maura (although I don’t see how that’s possible)!

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Happy birthday!!!

Sometimes, You Just Need Whipped Cream

I shared this note last night on Facebook, but I wanted to extend the sentiment on my blog:

The beautiful thing about people like David Bowie and Alan Rickman is that they lived as their authentic selves. Creativity sparks ideas, inspiration, and movement. Such endeavors appeal to our humanity. It’s why we love them. It’s why we mourn. At the end of the day, we are all human. We all suffer, struggle, and fail, but these passionate types, these people, they, we, we all triumph, shine, and overcome. In death, we love and we grieve, but we also remember that they have lived, with us and for us, and that is a remarkable thing.

So when they say, “Let’s Dance,” we respond, “Always.”

A bit on the less serious side: Exciting news! According to Facebook, I joined the social media world 10 years ago from this very day. I don’t know how to feel about this. Old, for one. I was in high school 10 years ago. From my calculations, I would have been 16, so a sophomore? Yikes. A lot has changed in the past 10 years and I’m not ashamed to say, the majority of that has been for the good. If we’re being real though, that’s not so much a milestone for me as it is for Facebook. Good for you, book of faces.

On a list of other random happenings in my life, I’m beginning to suspect that I’m just into hot chocolate for the whipped cream on top. I’m not even sorry. Yes, the chocolatey, warm goodness makes the melty whipped cream taste that much better, but when I’ve had my share of the cream and it’s just the hot chocolate left, I’m all, eh.

My morning started with a quick, repeating meal before my Spin class. Peanut butter and jelly on an English Muffin. Wrong cannot be done with this combination. Warm, toasty, peanutty, and sweet.

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For my workout, it included the aforementioned Spin class, which was killer thanks to a ton of sprints and hill climbing. It’s butt-kicking, but works up a great sweat! I finished with a brief core workout before heading home to get my inner- Yogi on.

I’ll also take you back to last night’s dinner of chicken drumsticks, brown spinach rice, roasted Brussels sprouts, and a big salad.

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Now onto the work, work, work that needs to be done. It’s Friday though, so Happy Weekend-having to you all!