And Then There’s Snow.

Still riding high on that nice weather, even though the weather app on my phone is threatening snow!

I fit in a bike ride on Wednesday afternoon and felt warm in only a sweatshirt! I’m still getting back into riding an actual bike, much of my experience in recent years has been spinning. Cycling outside makes me nervous, so I stick to side streets and bike paths for now at least! And yes, I will always wear a helmet.

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Wednesday’s breakfast was an impressive omelette consisting of an egg, two egg whites, baby spinach, red bell pepper, tomatoes, and feta. I enjoyed it with whole wheat toast.

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For lunch, I had visions of crafting a beautiful salad, but was starving by the time I got home and had leftover chicken broccoli ziti (with a piece of leftover salmon instead).

Dinner was chicken with spinach rice and a big spinach salad.

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I’m trying to be more creative with my cooking, especially as I’m back to blogging.

Stay warm, everyone. Tomorrow’s Friday!

to the ocean, the mountains, and back again

Another Monday, another wistful look back at the weekend. It was a good one, yet again, a perfect combination of restful and active.

The week was a long one and I was looking forward to the oblivion of a relaxing Friday night at home, but instead, I buckled up and went to a networking event with some co-worker friends. To get some energy beforehand, I headed out for a short run, which allowed me to soak up some sun and positivity. It was a fun night and I enjoyed chatting it up with friends. I very much loved falling into bed and sleeping to my heart’s content as Saturday began.

I didn’t have anything planned for the weekend, so I texted my cousin Meghan to see what was up, and she suggested Long Beach. This was on my to-do list for sure, so I was eager to go, after pancakes and a workout!

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We made the trek and were ready for lunch once we arrived. The idea to sit outside was mutual all around, except we didn’t factor in the wind. Wind in LA spring is real. We lost menus and chips, chips! The food was good though and once our bellies were full, we were ready to explore the area.

You’d think beaches would be easy and plentiful to find in Long Beach, but you would be wrong. I don’t know what our problem was, but it took us forever to find one. Once we were there, it was nice, but windy.

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I’m itching for summer and the ability to dive into the waves and not be considered a crazy person. My love of the ocean often battles my hatred of freezing cold water, but once the summer sun comes out strong and the wind dies down, I’ll gladly numb myself to get in that ocean.

Gotta love walking on the beach!

Once we headed home, I trekked over to the grocery store and did a lot of nothing for the rest of the night.

Sunday was my most active day. It was beautiful out, still windy, but the sunshine was calling my name. My first stop was the local climbing spot.

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Spring is in full bloom in lovely Southern California, and at one point, I stopped dead looking up at the flowers covering the mountain. It was one of those “wow” moments for sure, but my pictures couldn’t captivate the true beauty.

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Once on top, I looked to my left towards the ocean and the right towards the mountains and city.

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Damn.

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I had to make a quick stop at Target (it’s never really quick or cheap!) to pick up an air-pump for my bike, so I could pedal over to the beach. I’m not certain that it made much difference, and my back tire seemed a little draggy, and riding against the wind did not help my cause, but with the beach as my destination, I continued on with determination.

The ride was spectacular. The bike path to the beach is always pretty, but the river was sparkling and the flowers overwhelming and despite the pain of riding, I felt the joy.

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At the beach, I pulled over to the rocks and sat myself down for some quality time with my journal, the sun, and the water. Find me below aiming for pensive and ending up squinty.

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I reveled in the warmth of it all for a long while, until I felt the pull of home. Even though the wind was lessened at this point, my legs were tired (and my back tire probably still low), so it was a challenging ride. Why is bike riding so difficult for me? I’m in good cardio shape. I run and spin at the gym, so something’s not adding up. I think it’s my bike…probably?

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Back at my apartment, it was cooking time. First, I showered and threw on my robe to be my ultra comfiest. I’ll have a post at some point this week with some meals from the past couple weeks, but I cooked my dinner, made a few breakfasts for the week, then even made tomorrow night’s dinner. Pretty nifty.

I’m trying to be efficient with breakfast because I’m going to try and get my lazy butt up in the morning to workout. I’ve been good about my evening workouts, but with the sun staying out later, I’m hoping to free up some time after work.

There’s nothing like time spent at the ocean and in the mountains to fill up the soul. Happy Monday!

faster, stronger

I’m growing more nervous because – if you’ll remember yesterday’s blurb about the fly in my room – it appears that it might be stalking me. Why would I assume such a thing? As I was driving home from work today a fly flew into my eye and I’m certain it was the same one (I’m not certain at all). I might’ve killed it, it probably lived, but we’ll know in time.

Thus far, I’ve only completed two days of my new workout plan, but this picture sums it up:

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The plan follows the exercise sequences I’ve been doing for the past few weeks, except instead of numbered sets, I’m doing timed. This is more exhausting than I anticipated and my muscles have been burning in the best way possible.

Try doing jump squat after jump squat for thirty seconds, three times with minimal rest, and let me know if you weren’t a tired, sweaty mess after.

To spice things up, I’m also performing all four exercises per muscle group before moving on, which meant that my triceps were crying before I even started chest. I thought I was okay on Tuesday until I tried to take off my jacket. And, although leg day used to be my most dreaded day, I solved that problem by breaking it up like I would the upper body – something I’ve mentioned before – and I feel like I’m making drastic improvements. Of course, in the end, the body is all connected anyway.

Three days a week I do split training and mix it up with brief, but hard-hitting total body strength workouts twice a week, which I pair with running. On non-running days, I bike (indoor and outdoor), jump rope, or hike to get my cardio fix.

Running outside has improved my endurance, something that I despise on the treadmill. While it’s good to mix things up with intervals, I have a love/hate relationship with long(er) distance running and being able to do that is a point of pride.

On that note, we’re all caught up with my exercise news of late. Enjoy Wednesday!

Exercise Shake-Up

Happy Monday! We’ve got a strange week ahead, but I’m going to talk about exercise instead. I’ve felt bored lately with my workouts and I’ve been trying to play around, finding a new fit. My new gym doesn’t offer a lot to be creative, so I’ve had to delve into my experiences and come up with something exciting. Motivation is hard sometimes!

My new favorite exercise has been taking my bike out on the bike path by my apartment. I am no mean’s fast. Plenty of people speed past me, but I’ve had to go around my share of people (toddlers, okay, shut up). It’s hard not to enjoy peddling by the ocean, under the sun and palm trees, and not feel invigorated by life.

Side note: life is good, but lonely. Moving is hard in a lot of ways, and even though I know I made the right choice, it’s hard to be away from family and friends. I’ve been trying to keep busy and focused on why I moved out here in the first place- write write write.

My ride yesterday took me into the fog. Once I reached water, I hopped off and parked to walk the rocks. Spooky and eerie, but calming!

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I’ve also done some running, but since I’ve been working out after work, I’ve had to take it out on the treadmill. Boo! Good music can get you through almost everything though, so I’ve been jamming to Hamilton and just getting through. Hiking on the other hand, has become one of my favorite things, and in LA, we aren’t lacking on possibilities.

Sunday’s hike took me and my friend Sara to an LA staple, Runyon Canyon.

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I mean, c’mon!

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Strength training-wise, I’m settled on two days a week of quick, hard-hitting total body movements and two days of specific muscle training.

Day One is total body, heavy lifting movements, six sets of five reps. Day Two is upper- biceps, triceps, shoulders, chest, and back. Day Three concentrates on lower body. For those two days, I’ve been doing four sets of ten reps with medium weight. Day Four is more total, this time focused on body weight plyometrics. Again, six sets of five reps. You haven’t sweated until you’ve done burpees into push-ups into jumping jacks. But I love it and I’m starting to feel excited about exercising again.

On strength training days, I always end with core and a bout of cardio.

Now onto food, which I’ve been kind of killing lately.

Homemade pancakes- I forgot the egg, which is why they turned out so flat I guess, but they were still tasty!

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Banana bread! I had a couple of bananas that I didn’t want to toss but couldn’t eat straight up, so I bought a few more ingredients and threw together this delicacy.

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It made a perfect accompaniment to this beautiful omelet I made on Sunday.

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I cannot believe I didn’t snap a picture of the chicken broccoli ziti soup-ish dish I made on Friday. I was seriously impressed with myself and it was super tasty. One pot meals for the win!

Shrimp fried rice, no big deal. Shrimp, an egg, veggies, brown rice, and soyaki. Cannot be beat!

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No Dark Chocolate peanut butter was used in this dish, but look at the empty jar photobombing the picture!

And okay, so on Sunday, I went to another LA staple, Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. Fried chicken. Waffles. Disgustingly delicious.

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Bike Riding and Weird Massages

My weekend once again was the perfect combination of active and relaxing, starting with Friday night.

After work, like a champion, I headed to the gym and ran it out on the treadmill. This week, I wasn’t as tired as last, and I had a solid run before finishing it off with a quick Yoga flow. For dinner, I stir fried up some chicken, veggies, and brown rice.

If you’ve ever wanted to know what bad zucchini tastes like, it is not good. Luckily, I didn’t cut the zucchini into too small bites and I was able to scrape it out of the plate!

Some old Saturday Night Live episodes later and it was time to fall asleep, cus this girl was tired! Working 9-5 is hard, ya’ll.

On Saturday, I met up with a friend-of-a-friend for brunch before going to the gym to knock out a lower body workout. I biked over on the beautiful afternoon, then biked on over to a reflexology massage place for my sore feet. My feet were so swollen on Tuesday of this past week, they didn’t fit properly in my sneakers. This massage was $20 bucks, so I was weary of the quality.

Let’s just run this down for you:

An older man began my experience by massaging my forehead. As we know, I have a large forehead, so a long time was spent on this area. At one point, the gentleman began tickling my outer ears, which I thought was strange, but then he stuck his fingers in my ears, and I learned a new definition of “strange.” It was weird, but I didn’t hate it?

The man was clearly head honcho of this establishment as other workers kept coming over and talking to him, which was unsettling in an otherwise quiet situation. At one point, I thought a woman was trying to tell me to do something, so I opened my eyes and the woman hushed me, apologized, then stuck her hand on my forehead for a long time. I was then blind-folded, which I think was to hide the fact that a new worker took over my footwork, though I will tell you, once you’ve had giant, calloused fingers in your ears, you can decipher the difference of the petite, gentler touch of soft hands.

As mentioned above, my forehead is gaping, so it elevated the blindfold to the point of which I could see clearly. It was good that I distinguished this new individual as female when I was then planked on so that the massager could recenter my hips (or whatever the hell it was she was doing?) After some hand work, I rolled over and got all the sore spots in my shoulders and back worked out.

Listen, it was a weird experience, but it worked. For $20 bucks, I will accept your strange scenario and tip you for it.

It was dinnertime when I finished, so I pedaled over to my “local” taco shop before heading home to read and work on a new project. After some grocery shopping, it was time for bed.

Sunday is a great day to be outside seeking adventures. First up, was hike time. I actually went to the same place I did last week, this time with a meet-up group. The day was cooler, but in no means cool, and overcast, which made it great to be active.

Stopping at home for a few minutes, it was time to take my bike out for its first long journey. 18 miles is no joke. I’ve got a bike path, down the street from me, that leads to the huge Southern California coastal bike path that is remarkable. There are no words to describe the views and the feelings inspired by pedaling down this path.

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My intention was to go to Santa Monica and believe me, I kept waiting to see the enlightening sight of Santa Monica Pier, but as I rolled and rolled, I still couldn’t see it and I almost cried. At a stopover for a water and lunch break, I typed in my GPS location and realized I had ridden in the complete opposite of Santa Monica and had made it to Manhattan Beach. Since Manhattan (New York) is my favorite place in the entire universe (other than home), and I had never been there before, it was fitting.

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On my way back, I prayed for no hills, and had to stop to capture the above picture. I mean, what?

Back at my apartment and nursing my sore quads, it was time to meal prep for the coming week. Soup! It’s not appropriate in the warm, sunny SoCal environment, but back at home in Boston, it’s fall and prime time for soup.

I’ve had these lentils in my cabinets since back home, so it was time to cook ’em. I found the recipe online and added my own touches, such as doubling the recipe and adding zucchini.

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I had enough for four lunches of the week and enjoyed the remnants for dinner, paired with brown rice and a dash of cheese.

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Now I’m all cozy, full, and super sweaty.

It’s Monday, but let’s live like it’s Friday!

From Strong Workouts to Sick in Bed

While all the resolutioners crowded the gym, I stayed at home and rode the stationary bike for 45 minutes. I actually had plans to go to the gym, but I wasn’t feeling great and was pretty tired from not a great night of sleep. It was still a good workout and I finished with my legs burning. Actually, my shoulder was still sore on Thursday, so it was a good idea to stick to mostly leg exercises anyways.

I woke up feeling refreshed and healed on Friday and ready for my Friday morning workout. Nouha met me and I guided us through an intense kettlebell workout. To mix things up a bit, I performed all the moves on the bosu to offset my balance and keep my body guessing. I topped it off with a bit of cardio, jump roping and sprints on the treadmill.

Saturday, my friend Stephanie was up for the weekend, so instead of a regular workout, we went into the city and walked around. Combined with some shoveling later that night, I got my daily steps up to 18,500 and was quite pleased with myself.

Feeling kind of sore from the walking and shoveling the night before, and full from lunch, I settled on a long walk with my mom and the dog then some gentle yoga to relax before the long week ahead.

It was back to the grind on Monday for the regular morning workout. I met Nouha to start off with a body strength workout before taking it on the treadmill for a run.it’s actually easier for me to increSe my speed on the treadmill because it’s flat and I change it up every five minutes to keep from getting bored.

On Tuesday, Nouha and I finally made it to the cycling class we have been trying to do for over a month now. The timing hasn’t worked out before then, but it was worth the wait. After, I went up to fit in a body strength routine.

It wasn’t until later that afternoon that the shakes carried on for a different reason. I had no appetite for lunch and then I felt nausea creeping in. The second I got home from work, it began apparent why. Not fun! It’s enough to warrant a rest day at the gym this morning so I can try and sleep it away.

Running Into 2015 Full Force

Workouts this week started with a Christmas Eve morning meeting with my brother and sister. I think I had mentioned that I went with them in last week’s edition, but to be honest, I wrote it beforehand, and then things didn’t work out (haha, pun), the way I intended.

Actually, we should go back to Tuesday when I thought I was going to an exercise class with my friend Nouha. Things didn’t go as planned and we didn’t make it in time for the class, so instead, we started on the bike for twenty minutes, did twenty more on the elliptical, then headed over to the stretch room to fit in some core work. When she left, I did a quick Plyometrics circuit to round out my workout.

On Wednesday, I had a nice sister’s workout planned, but she had other things to do to get ready for that night, so we only went through a strength workout. After she left, I hopped on the treadmill to run for twenty-five minutes, then do five minutes of sprints. I was nice and sweaty and ready for a big lunch once I finished.

Thursday was my scheduled rest day, but I did fit in a walk with my mom and the dog that afternoon.

I mixed things up a bit on Friday by doing the bike we have at home for thirty minutes, and actually built up quite a sweat, before a movie with my sister. Once I got home, I changed and headed out to the gym to fit in a kettlebell strength workout before the gym closed. Still feeling energized, I did another thirty minutes on the bike at home, while reading my book. It was better than just sitting on the couch!

Though I couldn’t believe it was only two days after Christmas, the weather was sunny and in the fifties around here on Saturday, so I was thrilled to get out there for a run. I did four miles of running before walking and enjoying another two of walking. I wore a light fleece jacket, but had taken that off two miles in and was only in a short-sleeved shirt. I should have just worn a long-sleeve shirt for a nice medium, but who knew it would even be that nice!

With my new Fitbit on my wrist, I went to the gym for a barbell strength routine. To mix things up a bit, I performed what my brother deemed a “pyramid” of reps and sets, starting with 12 reps, 10, 8, 6, 4, 4, increasing the weight as I decreased the reps. It was quite effective and I was sore, in a good way, once leaving.

I was actually surprised with how few steps I fit in throughout the day that started with grocery shopping, the gym, and not sitting for much time at all. I didn’t do much cardio, but still, I thought my numbers would be way up there! I guess this is why a Fitbit will be good for me!

It was back to the daily grind on Monday with a 5:00am wake up call. Nouha and I started off with a body strength circuit before hopping on the treadmill for a run. After a string of days sleeping in, it was quite a shock to hear that alarm go off!

On Tuesday, we were both able to sign up for the cycling class, so we started our day with that. Once it finished, I still had some time, so I opted to go through a Plyometrics circuit to add some extra cardio and strength training.

To celebrate New Year’s Eve, I started my workout at the gym with a dumbbell strength routine. After pushing those muscles, I headed home for a run outside. Even though it was cold, it was nice to feel the fresh air and to not keep looking at the time slowly click by like when I’m running on the treadmill. Many layers had to be worn to get me through not feeling too cold or overly warm. Running is balanced on such precision, not too much water, but just enough; not too much to eat, but just enough; not too cold, not too warm. It is worth it though!

It’s nice to end a year the way it started and knowing that I’ve dedicated time to maintaining no healthy lifestyle, growing stronger, healthier, and happier with every step! Have a great New Years everyone. Here’s to an even better, happier, healthier, and brighter 2015 for all of us.

See you next year!