I’m Onto You, Suzanne Summers

I had a dream two nights ago that Suzanne Summers was stalking me, so you better believe I’ve been checking over my shoulder whenever I leave the house. We were cool Ms. Summers, don’t pull a Liza on me.* In the dream, we were participating in a Hunger Games-esque event, except it had nothing to do with death. If I remember correctly, then if Suzanne “tagged” me, then I had to go live outside in nature. This all seemed very plausible in my dream, but now makes no sense at all.

*If you forgot that Liza Minelli stalks me, then lucky you. It’s a thing. I’m sure I’ve written posts about it before. She’s remained stagnant as of late. Let’s not jinx that.

Anyways….is anyone else slightly alarmed that it’s already October 21? I’m sorry, but I thought it was still July of 2012. Time is flying! I better step up my studying because my test date is approaching.

Here are some eats from the past few days we’ve been away from each other.

Scenes from my dad’s birthday dinner Act I. Act II actually doesn’t have a picture, but my family went out and it was fun, happy, and delicious.

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A very interesting looking meal with waffles, scrambled eggs with a chicken sausage, and a big bowl of berries. My breakfasts are often big meals because they fuel me for my workouts and because it’s the best meal of the day.

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This stir fry was impressive. Steak, zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, and spinach over rice with ginger sesame dressing drizzled on top.

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Peanut butter toast can do no wrong.

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Grilled tilapia, broccoli, zucchini, peppers, and rotini. Yum!

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This morning’s plate of cakes. I can’t get enough of these!

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Workouts the past few days included grueling strength training sessions, lap swims, spin classes, long runs (slightly painful thanks to new shoes which I’ll debut tomorrow!), and core workouts that left me with sore abs whenever I sneeze (I sneeze a lot, ouch!).

In other news, I hung out with my family a lot this weekend which is always good for laughs and fun, enjoyed the nice weather with a few walks outside, cleaned and prepared for fall/winter (still more to do, ugh!), worked (it’s a blessing to love what I do), and lost a few years of my life trying to buy Star Wars tickets. For whatever reason, they are starting to premiere the new film BEFORE midnight, so my friend Stephanie and I have our tickets for 11:50. We like to stick to the idea of premiering a  movie at midnight, but in this situation, beggars really can’t be choosers. It is very exciting though and we are now two months away!

I can’t get over this picture:

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I also bought another decal for my computer. I like the subtlety of my Harry Potter one that fits right over the apple on the Mac, and I thought I was continuing this trend when I bought this new one. Not so much. It’s huge! I had to cut it.

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I think my nerd is showing just a bit.

Also, my coffee mug looks super creepy in that picture and it was unintentional!

Happy Wednesday!

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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.

HAPPY FRIDAY!!!

It’s Friday, which means that once I get out of work today, I have plans to do AB-SOL-UTE-LY NOTHING! As much as I love traveling and spending time with friends, I’m exhausted and looking forward to whipping up a home-cooked meal, vegging on the couch, and even getting in some long overdue writing time. Yay Caitlin time!

I am obsessed with swimming lately. I’ve only been back at it for the past three weeks, but it’s such a relief on my body from other exercises like running and strength training and it’s making all the difference. I started my workout this morning with a core/strength routine using the medicine ball and stability ball. I did two circuits, the first including box jumps, squats, lunges, push ups, and kneeling kickbacks with a resistance band. The second circuit was rollouts, elevated hip lifts, hundreds to v-ups, Russian twists, and sit ups. I ran through each circuit four sets of ten reps before finishing up with a few planks on the stability ball. By the end, my abs were aching and my legs had been through the ringer as well.

Hopping into the pool felt so freeing because even though it’s a great full body workout, it’s not as strenuous on the muscles. I did 28 laps (back and forth), the first 12 were at more of a moderate pace. I swam the next 4 as sprints and was so out of breath when I changed into 2 backstroke laps and 2 breaststroke laps to cool down. 4 more were sprints again, followed by 2 more backstroke and 2 breaststroke before cooling down. I felt so energized and rejuvenated after. The most exciting part is that when I first dove in, I was the only one in the pool! I’ve found the perfect time to go- now let’s hope I haven’t jinxed myself.

My breakfast this morning was this beautiful french toast meal. I use pureed pumpkin in my batter for sweetness, along with a dash of vanilla, cinnamon, some milk, and an egg. I coat them with peanut butter for the jolt of protein and because I happen to prefer peanut butter 10000000 x more than syrup.

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Since there are many wedding festivities upcoming and I have such a prominent role as the MOH, I need to start really watching my diet. I’ve been lax in the past couple of weeks due to all that traveling and eating out at restaurants, but the other problem is I sit more at work now. I’ve been making a quality effort to stand, which is much better than sitting all day and I take frequent brisk walks to get my brain and body moving. There are also those assorted bites and tastes I can easily cut out of what I eat in a day and it’s time I pay more attention to that.

In this case, one of my efforts is to eat a salad and soup every day for lunch. There are still a ton of different options and meals I can create to go along with this. I’m aiming for a ton of veggies, which I’m already excellent at incorporating, along with lean proteins, like chicken and fish. I need to get back into my beans! Soups, especially broth-based ones that are homemade or the boxed ones found at Trader Joes, are also excellent because they carry many more nutrients and are also filling. My aim is to only have grains at breakfast and dinner, which shouldn’t be too hard. I’m not cutting out anything I enjoy eating, I’m just trying to be more mindful and stopping diving into things without realizing or appreciating what I’m eating.

My lunch was this tasty leftover salad from the other night featuring baby spinach, poppyseed dressing, walnuts, and craisins with tomato, cucumber, carrots, peppers, and grilled chicken tossed in. I had a cup of the leftover miso soup with a dash of spicy chili sauce that made it that much better.

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So good! And I didn’t feel deprived in any way.

Dinner was more indulgent with macaroni and cheese and barbecue chicken, but the broccoli and asparagus were good buffers. I was careful to slow down my eating and savor each bite and when I finished, I didn’t even feel compelled for seconds. This is a big deal when I can turn down more macaroni and cheese. Progress people!

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Before I end, I have a bit of a confession to make. My guilty pleasure television show is Baby Daddy on ABC Family and I am obsessed. The show can tend to be a little cutesy at times, but in a real quality fashion. I find the writing to be excellent with clever dialogue and layered characters, which have pulled me in and make me invest in them.

I’ve been watching since the beginning and last night during the spring finale, I finally thought my favorite couple would get together. Of course there was a nasty cliffhanger that will leave me on edge until the summer (or until I forget about it by next week and it will be rejuvenated in the summer). I had my whole family watching last night with the promise that they would not talk through it- they mostly succeeded. All of them were mocking it and me at the silly title of the show, but once they started to watch it, at the very least, they didn’t hate it.

If you’re looking for a fun show to watch, I highly recommend it! Not such a guilty pleasure after all! Have any good guilty pleasures to share?

The Ab Roller Is Actually Evil

This weekend, I was nursing sore calves and painful abs. I had the brilliant idea of ending my Friday workout with the ab roller, which I’ve never done before and in the moment, it was too bad. It wasn’t until I woke up on Saturday that I realized how much it hurt. I must have been doing it wrong and it will be quite awhile until I try it again.

Look at it lying there innocently.

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Last Thursday, which is where we begin our new week of workouts for blog purposes, I actually enjoyed my rest day. I have mixed feelings about taking a week day for rest because I’ve noticed I start off on a better note when I wake up and fit in my workout, but I also like working out on the weekends when I have more time. I’ll see how it goes as I progress.

I was feeling rejuvenated on Friday and started things off with a kettlebell sequence. I went through two circuits, one with swings, goblet squat dead lifts, elbow to knee shoulder presses, high lifts, and lunging arrow twists, and the other with kickback rows, tricep pullovers on the stability ball, mermaid raises, hundred leg lifts, and Russian twists. After, I moved onto an assortment of moves, starting with box jumps, wall throws, push ups, mountain climbers, and hip lifts on the ball. I finished with six minutes of jump roping and sprints on the treadmill, which left my calves sore.

I realized the affects of the previous workout the next day. I think I might have been fighting something because I woke up tired and disoriented and never really settled into things. I did attempt a run on the treadmill when I got to the gym, but I found I had to go between running and walking, and after forty minutes, I felt blah. I was considering doing an ab or Yoga workout to accompany it, but my calves and abs were still sore, so I listened to my body and just relaxed.

After shopping and eating lunch on Sunday, I dragged my tired butt to the gym. I wasn’t excited about the workout, but once I got going, I woke up and felt so much better! I love what that happens. I went through my favorite barbell strength routine before finishing off with some box jumps and jump roping. My calves were feeling much better and though I still felt a bit of a twinge in my abs when I laid down or sat up for my bench presses, I got through my four minutes of planking without pain. And no, it wasn’t four minutes at once, for the record.

Monday, excited that it’s Christmas week, I got up easily. I met Nouha and started off with a body strength workout complete with step ups, tricep dips, plié squats, lunges, kickbacks, push ups, mountain climbers, mermaid raises, hip lifts, hundreds to v ups, bicycle crunches, and Russian twists. We moved onto a short, but refreshing Yoga sequence with planks, side planks, a reverse plank, full bridge, and shoulder stand. Now stretched and warmed up, we moved to the treadmill where I squeezed in a half an hour run that was much better than the one I forced myself through on Saturday.

I wanted to mix things up a bit, now that I admit that trying to swim on weekday mornings is stressful. Nouha and I went to an early morning cycling class that was good because I can never rev myself up like that on the bike on my own. I actually really loved Soul Cycle the time I went in New York, but it’s far too expensive for me to go on the regular. This was a fine substitute and I had enough time leftover to go upstairs and fit in a dumbbell strength routine before starting my day.

Even though it’s Christmas Eve, expecting and completely accepting the food and wine intake later on, I got myself to the gym for a quick run on the treadmill since it’s pouring outside. My sister met up with me to try the barre class my gym offers and we had fun working out together, earning our indulgences!

Good Sweat, Bad Sweat, What’s the Diff?

As I’m sure you know by now, exercise is my main stress reliever. This past week, I’ve been incorporating more core work into my routine as well as some intervals. I haven’t been as organized when it comes to scheduling, but rather focused on doing what I feel like on that day.

This week I had two runs that felt a bit on the painful side. Today, I was going to run at the track, but I chose the time when school gets out so it would have been a crowded, jammed mess- and that’s just the parking situation. Instead, I ran around my neighborhood, up and down and up and down even more hills. Then I went on a nice long walk with my friend Molly. When I went with my mom to walk the dog around the block, very short, it was growing cooler outside, which is very exciting. I love throwing on a sweatshirt and Yoga pants. Though it is kind of a pain to be cold in the morning when you leave for the day and hot and sweaty when you’re heading home or out and about. All about the layers!

I also started today off by meeting my friend Nouha at the gym to do a quick couple of minutes on the bike, followed by an intensive body strength and core workout that worked up a nice sweat and burn. This included jumping jacks (250 total!), prison squats which we affectionately entitled “Pipers,” alternating lunges, alternating standing kickbacks, push-ups (no more modified for me!), mermaid raises, leg lifts, hip lifts, sit ups, and everyone’s favorite, Russian Twists. We did five sets of ten reps. After, I did a 3.1 run that was hot and sweaty because I didn’t realize how warm it was until I was already on my way.

Yesterday, I worked the polls all day and didn’t have time for a workout. This was the perfect time for me to take my rest day because on Monday, I was feeling a bit off and weaker than usual. On Monday, Nouha and I did a strength workout using dumbbells, four sets of twelve reps. I followed this up with a few minutes on the bike and elliptical because my body wasn’t feeling any high intensity intervals. Finishing off with a strong core workout left me ready to relax and recover.

On Sunday, I pushed myself through four miles on my hilly route. My legs and lungs weren’t feeling as strong as they usually are, but I made it to the end, up a very steep hill that left me clutching my side for breath. My allergies were definitely in effect, but didn’t hurt me until the point I stopped running and started to walk. After a long recovery period, I did some Yoga moves before bed.

I found myself arriving to the gym just in time for the storm to roll in on Saturday. I heard the thunder looming, but the minute I stepped through the doors, the rain started pouring. Lucky me for once! I performed a strength workout using the barbells, nervous about clutching a large metal sticks with thunder and lightning striking outside, but I’m probably just paranoid. Before the gym closed, I finished off my workout with a quick ten minute sprint session on the Elliptical. I believe I mentioned I took a short break from swimming while the pool was being renovated, but I’m looking forward to getting back to it.

My scheduled rest day had been on Friday because it was so hot! That Thursday, I had a nice long run just as the sun was going down for the day, so I wasn’t quite as drippy or gross. I’ve learned that there is a good sweat and a bad sweat. The good comes from hard work, the bad from heat and humidity.

My fitness goals for fall is to extend the length of my runs, despite any hills, and to be able to perform my push-ups all the way touching the ground. TBC!