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.

Holidays Make You Feel Things

Happy Thanksgiving Week, friends! Although I still can’t believe we’ve reached the holidays, I’m all about embracing it! Such occasions always stand out and one thing I can be thankful for is where I am in my life right now. I, like everyone, am a work in progress, but I’m finally starting to like where I’m heading, professionally speaking. A year ago, I started a job that wasn’t for me. Now, I’m starting a career of which I am passionate and happy and excited to partake. Celebrate these things!

This weekend, I got things started nice and early on Saturday with a workout before work. My body protested a smidgen when my alarm blasted at 6AM, but once I was up and moving I felt great! I worked through a series of strength moves, working my shoulders, biceps, and core before hopping on the treadmill for a 2.5 mile run. After, it was time for work!

Saturday afternoon was spent studying. There was also time to fit in a nap before I headed out with my friends for the night. My college friends don’t get to see each other a whole lot, but it’s always fun when we do! We met up for dinner at a Mexican restaurant and chatted over chips and salsa. For dinner, I had the blackened salmon salad, which is my favorite salmon ever. I don’t know how they cook it like that, but it’s amazing!

We stopped at a bar after for drinks, but it wasn’t a late night because we all wake up early now and are old and tired. Back at my house, we did curl up on the couch with tea and talking. Always nice to do!

As a good chef, I will admit when things don’t always run smoothly in the kitchen. For instance, I decided to make my specialty egg breakfast on Sunday morning for my friends. It’s not even a complicated dish. Just spinach, red pepper, marinara, eggs, and mozzarella all baked together into simmering goodness. Well, I don’t think I set the oven on high enough because those eggs would just not cook! What should have taken between 20-30 minutes was more like 40-50 and that was AFTER I already removed it from the oven because the eggs were hard, and then still drippy in a not so good way once I looked closer.

Still, I was determined and I think it turned out alright in the end. Not my best, especially of this dish, but still tasty.

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I met my friend Nouha at the gym for a workout later on in the afternoon. Technically, it was my scheduled rest day, but I hadn’t seen Nouha in awhile, so I decided to join. We had a fun time working through a tough triceps, legs, and core workout and chatting as we went.

That night, my sister and her husband came over for dinner. You’d think I’d be better about taking pictures, but I’ve been a bad blogger as of late. Sorry! We enjoyed chicken supreme with brown spinach rice and asparagus. So good! For dessert, my mom made her legitimately famous whoopie pies, which taste like Heaven on Earth.

That takes us back to reality to Monday morning- of a holiday week though!- and this breakfast I assembled to my liking. An egg and egg-white omelet with cheese, waffles, and berries. This time, I did snap a picture for you fine folks.

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I was talking with my friends this weekend and we decided to try and be healthier. I’ve got exercise covered and my meals are mostly good, but I also have a wicked sweet tooth that needs to be reigned in. It’s all about how I haven’t been feeling quite as healthy and fresh as usual, so even though Thanksgiving is coming and I will be indulging, that doesn’t mean I’m going to go buck wild in every other way. When in doubt, just try your best and do things that feel good and right.

Hello, Have You Seen My Pool?

The snow banks are officially taller than I am. This is startling in how fast and furious it came. People were actually complaining about the lack of snow mid-January and then BOOM a snow cloud exploded. I’m just about 5’3 and though that isn’t a lot of a person, it’s a lot of snow. This particular bank is way over my head, like three of me, but look at that gorgeous sunset! photoMac was intimidated by the huge snow banks and stayed out of the picture.

As I glance outside sipping on my cup of tea and enjoying a homemade chocolate chip cookie, I’m reminded of the days of summer where the sun was shining, the ground was clear, and I had a pool. It’s still there, kind of, but it’s been eaten by snow. If cold, slushy water is your thing, then good for you, but personally, I find it difficult to jump in when the temperature is 80 degrees. Don’t judge me! I’m sensitive.photo

In other news, I’m not too thrilled with my new WordPress app. It’s not posting when I schedule it and all of the text is showing segmented together instead of the paragraphs I write them in! I guess I’ll just have to play around with it a bit more. Is it too much to ask for things to be intuitive?!

Some of you may be wondering where yesterday’s Rave Review Tuesday was and for that, I apologize, because you didn’t miss it. I just didn’t write one. In my”free” time, I’ve been devoting my energies to writing. It’s a positive thing that I’ve been so consistent with my writing, but I need to learn how to balance. I’m in the middle of two different books right now, so hopefully I can finish those up soon. I also haven’t seen a movie in a long time. For me, watching a new television show is a commitment, especially on Netflix, so I’m staying away from the for awhile. I already miss Veep and can’t wait until April! Long story short, I’ll resume Rave Reviews once I consume something to write about!

Though I’m trying to complain less about the snow, it can’t be ignored because it affects so much of daily life. This morning, thanks to my neighbor, I was able to fit in a quality at-home workout. After a body strength routine with the usual squats/lunges/push ups/etc, I jumped on the treadmill and got through a 45-minute run/walk type thing. My legs are sore, even after the rest day yesterday, due to the increase in running. It felt good to work up a sweat and to start my day with a workout!

Breakfast today was pumpkin French toast, topped of course with peanut butter, jelly, and shredded coconut. The pumpkin, vanilla, and cinnamon work together to make this breakfast delectable, but it still borders on healthy with whole wheat bread, eggy batter, and peanut butter for protein! Such a combination keeps me full throughout the morning.

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Lunch came together quickly thanks to an assortment of leftovers. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to find any Brussels sprouts in the fridge, but the roasted cauliflower and butternut squash combination sufficed. Along with my veggie fix, I ate a piece of blackened salmon and dove into the rest of the macaroni and cheese. Seriously, it’s so good.

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With the roads finally clearing, my sister Lauren and her fiancee Nick came over for a Chinese food dinner. To go along with this indulgent dinner, I chopped and steamed a variety of vegetables- spinach, peppers, zucchini, and carrots- and enjoyed some brown rice. The good thing about me and Chinese food is that when I overeat it, I feel shaky, so I am apt to pay more attention to my body’s signals.

If you would allow me one last note on the snow, I must say, it’s amazing that I haven’t fallen yet. That being said, I totally just jinxed myself. The walking is terrible out! I went from my house to my neighbor’s house and I was walking so slow. Not just because it’s slippery but because it’s hard to walk in snow and slop. I’ve seen a few brave runners trekking it in the snow, but I do not have the coordination for that. I would definitely slip, fall, and get run over by a car.

To end on a positive note, we are already a good chunk into February, which means once we are halfway into March, the weather should improve, BASEBALL will be on its way back- I know for a fact that the Red Sox are looking to make up for last year’s dismal season to me personally in the form of the handsome new pitcher Rick Porcello–Lester who?- and I have a couple of exciting things coming that we’ll have to talk about when they happen.

Keep the good mood grooving!