Weekly Workouts

I find that pre-planning my workouts make for more efficient, butt-kicking exercise. I don’t dramatically change everything up every week, but I do switch things around to keep my body guessing. Making something up in advance, helps keep you motivated and present. Exercise is all about routine because once you get to that point, it sticks, and it’s hard to live without it!

Day One started on Sunday with a run. I haven’t gone four miles in awhile, but it felt wonderful. I finished with a cool-down one mile walk.

Day Two is strength training day one, including chest and triceps, biceps and shoulders, and core- ALWAYS core. Three exercises for each muscle group, five sets of eight reps a piece, means I’m lifting heavy!

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Day Three (two for strength training) is all about the legs, back, and core. Same set-up with that first day of strength training, heavy lifting five sets of eight reps. For legs in particular, I like the combination of heavy compound movements with fast-paced plyometrics. Jumping lunges are pretty close to death.

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Day Four is another run, this time with some time and speed intervals tossed within. It keeps my heart rate up without allowing my body to fall into a steady-state rhythm. After I finish, I like to do some Yoga, whether it’s just planking or getting into a full sequence, depending on time.

Day Five is more strength training focused on chest, triceps, biceps, shoulders, and core. This time, I’m lifting lighter weights at three sets of twelve reps, which helps build my endurance.

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Here we go at Day Six! Legs, back, and core get the three sets of twelve reps endurance treatment.

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Though strength training is the focus four out of six days of exercise, I do usually finish up my workouts with at least 15/20 minutes of cardio. Lately, I’ve been completing a super sweaty and crushing ride on a spin bike, which I much prefer to the other types of stationary cycles. I’ll occasionally spend a few minutes on the elliptical or treadmill amping up those intervals. On days where I don’t have a lot of time, it’s all about jump roping and battle roping.

The seventh day is always built for rest! You don’t have to workout six times a week to be healthy, I just happen to need it for my wellbeing. Rest is always important!

Mindy Kaling, Why Not Me? Book Review and Other Insights

Yesterday’s post on pumpkin waffles seemed to be of interest, which made me quite happy! I’m hoping to get more experimental in the kitchen this fall and winter because really, when is there a better time to cook?!

Today’s post focuses on something I haven’t done in awhile- book review!

I was so happy and excited that Mindy Kaling’s new book Why Not Me? dropped on Tuesday. As you know, I ran to Target to pick up my copy and couldn’t wait to get started. In actuality, I did wait rather than start reading while driving. Not that you were concerned about that…probably.

I read Mindy’s first book in an afternoon, laughing my ass off and feeling as though we would make great friends. Her writing style flows like a conversation. She shares insights, advice, and stories in a concise manner, without growing too wordy or existential. Her follow-up was not a let-down.

I adored this book.

There were a ton of very funny moments that caused me to laugh out loud, but I was surprised at how many times I felt a swell in the heart or a kick in the gut, please excuse such cliches. I think it must be very difficult for celebrities to express any kind of unhappiness because of the assumption that wealth and fame are everything. I think it certainly helps a certain quality of life, but it’s rare that when celebrities complain, we feel bad for them. Mindy touches upon this subject in her book and shows her humanness in a way that makes you understand and empathize.

My biggest draw to Mindy and her show The Mindy Project has always been how relatable she seems as a young woman. She isn’t the typical female stereotype represented by our media and she writes how she both appreciates and begrudges this notion at the same time. *By the way, if you aren’t watching The Mindy Project, you are missing out. That cast is a gem and the writing is smart, witty, and terrific.

Here’s my thinking on this if you will allow it. As someone who has been overweight, has lost a lot of weight, and is still not thin by any means, I appreciate how it feels to be judged based on my body. At the gym, I know I am the strongest, hardest working person- mostly because that’s what motivates me- but I don’t necessarily look like it. I love my body and the things it can do and I try my damndest to take care of it. I wish I could buy more into the “love my body” craze because I think there is a real problem with how women, and men to some extent, are judged based off of their bodies. That whole fat-shaming video was horrendous for a multitude of reasons, particularly the stereotyping behind what makes someone overweight. Bad habits and a lack of knowledge on nutrition will always play a part, but so does human emotion, genetics, and a host of other factors. But I will also say, I think there should be more focus on promoting awareness and healthy habits, whether in regard to being overweight or underweight. This is more personal and deeper than a number on a scale, BMI, or what others think you should look like. You feel and look your best when you work hard for it, which is true of everything we do in life. This is another topic Mindy emphasizes in her book.

My point, is that it’s a shame that we idolize and laugh with people who look like Jennifer Lawrence when they say they love food, especially McDonalds or any other kind of fast food and suggest that people like Mindy Kaling are brave for being on TV or eating what she chooses. Why is it so funny or out-of-this world insane that women like to eat? Hi, universal thing. Like Mindy says in her book, rarely are men asked or judged by what they eat. Eating shouldn’t be something we judge people based on. Yes, I blog about my meals and I like to read over what other people eat because I love food, not because I think so-and-so is fat or gross or wrong.

With her newest book, Mindy is attempting to offer her fans and naysayers more than a surface glance as to who she is. She is an awesome representation of a woman other than who we usually see, old.white.man., but she’s also just awesome.

I can now appreciate just how hard she works and how that has paid off for her. But another point she wants to make, which says so in the title, Why Not Me? To us, maybe it’s surprising that a woman of color could be so successful because again, there’s a lack of representation (for which my sister Lauren expresses far more succinctly than me, so maybe I’ll have her write a guest post about it one day). Mindy doesn’t talk about how she “rose up from the ashes” to “defy all odds.” She got lucky in the sense that she made strong connections, but she also worked her ass off to get to a place where her connections could get her anywhere. Of course she would be successful with this, no matter her gender, ethnicity, weight, etc., etc., etc. She put in effort and she succeeded.

I’ll be the first one to admit that I always found the idea of writing and acting on a television show to be glamorous above anything else. This is my biggest dream. I understood that it’s hard work, but through reading Mindy’s book, I realized just how hard and long you have to work. Glamour makes its occasional appearance, but I think most of the time, it’s just as much of a grind than any other job.

I’m just now realizing and truly appreciating the importance of hard work. It doesn’t just mean studying and following rules. To get anywhere with anything, you have to understand your objectives, put in effort, and be present in that effort. I left a job I didn’t like because it was sucking the life out of me. I did not care about the work that I was doing and I felt my passion and my drive slip away. I know that even when I am doing work that I truly care about, sometimes it will be hard and uncomfortable, but that means we have to go even harder. I see this every day with my workouts.

What I want will not be easy or guaranteed, but I won’t get there by talking about it. I have to actually do it, try it, work for it. Maybe after I get to that point, and I know the hard work doesn’t stop, I can look back and write on it like Mindy, Amy, or Tina.

I know I can be successful in something I put devotion and effort into because I did that four years ago with my 100 lb weight loss.

Hard work, combined with true dedication and defying the barometers of just going through the motions is what allowed Mindy Kaling to name her book Why Not Me?, which is a response to all the critics and curious fans who ask how she, someone different than the usual and the obvious, reached a point of success. 

This book made me think, which I wasn’t expecting. It made my fingers twitch, my feet tap, and my mind whiz. It made me want to do, anything and everything, I can to fulfill my life. That is a good assessment of not only a quality book, but a quality and influential person.

Yes, if you are a young woman, you should especially read this book, but so should anyone who has ever existed and thought, “Wow, this life is kinda hard, dontcha think?!”

You will learn, as I am learning, that people don’t feel bad for you or want to take care of you (other than a select, loving few). Being hesitant or shy gets you nothing because people are not going to brush past what you offer on the surface to see a fabulous, witty, hard-working lady underneath. They will not have the time. No one will give you free, undeserved guidance. You will not wake up one day with the perfect job, excellent professional-personal life balance, money, and family. You might not get all or any of those regardless of how much work you put into it. You will get what you seek if you care enough to work for it.

Mindy does not pretend to be anyone else, despite flaws, mistakes, or general humanness, but she does show a willingness to reflect and to delve deeper into hard-hitting questions with answers other than what we think we want or need to hear.

Be the type of person who when someone poses a question such as, “How did someone like you succeed?,” can answer, “Why not me?” and be totally in the right.

Sometimes, You Smell and Have To Buy New Things

Needed to edit this post to include a happy birthday shout out to my favorite, Amy Poehler! Woot!

In case you hadn’t realized, fall is coming. I wouldn’t keep harping on this except 1. I’m so excited and 2. Halloween is out in full force. We all know that if you buy the Halloween candy at this point, it’s not meant for Halloween. Otherwise you’d be offering stale candy to trick or treaters and that’s just rude. I’m all for eating chocolate, especially specially designed to mimic pumpkins or ghosts though.

We’ll get to how I discovered that Halloween costumes are all over in a second. First, let’s recap some meals.

If you read yesterday morning, you’ll know I had this delicious pumpkin French toast for breakfast.

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Lunch included leftover stuffed peppers with sauteed spinach and jalapeños for a kick. It was just what I needed after a heavy strength training session. I was quite proud of my gains yesterday and left with a sense of accomplishment. I must have been hungry when I got home though because there’s no picture of lunch. Whoops.

Between lunch and dinner, I also got to a kickboxing class. I am loving kickboxing! I think it has to do with the punching and kicking, but it’s a lot of fun and I feel like I’m getting in a real workout. I’m not usually a huge fan of group classes, but this is one I will try to get to on the regular!

Dinner was so good! Grilled swordfish is the new favorite fish in this house. We paired it with fresh broccoli and oh, hmm, what’s that cheesy thing? Mac and cheese? NOPE! Cauliflower au gratin. It has all the cheesy, warm, melt in your mouth goodness of macaroni and cheese but with vegetable instead of noodle. Don’t get me wrong, macaroni and cheese still holds a high up place in my heart, but this cauliflower dish is up there too! I just felt less guilty indulging in seconds.

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Okay so, last week we discovered I should never be let loose in Whole Foods, but yesterday we learned this is true of Target. Maybe I just shouldn’t shop. But I love it! I stopped at Target for trip numero uno after my strength workout because I wanted to pick up Mindy Kaling’s new book Why Not Me? which will soon be reviewed once I make my way through it- hopefully not too fast because I loved her first book and read it in a day and then I was sad it was over.

I was also on a quest for Peanut Butter and Co’s specialty PUMPKIN SPICE peanut butter. So far, I’ve struck out at Stop & Shop, Whole Foods, and now Target. Bummer, I’ll have to order it online unless Christmas Tree Shoppe can represent. As you well know, Peanut Butter and Co is my favorite company thanks to their Dark and White Chocolate Peanut Butter goodness (that is nutritionally sound too!). Though there was no pumpkin spice to be found, I did walk away with a dark chocolate bottle and two pumpkin spice yogurts.

Also in the cart were dog treats because Mac needs his favorite things too. I needed new strength training gloves because mine STINK to high heaven and can no longer be cleansed through washing. I know, I’m disgusting, but I’m not even sorry. It’s a mark of a job well done. However, they needed to go because I couldn’t stand getting a whiff every rep.

Then I happened to cart by the electronics section, which in my defense, is near the book section! I’ve been contemplating getting a running watch because I no longer track with my phone as it is too rough! My brother’s girlfriend, Cait, recommended the Garmin Forerunner 15 to me because it also works in water- though I’m not sure if it tracks swims yet (TBD tomorrow!). That’s the one I asked for when I checked out and I realized it wasn’t the right one when I got home. They gave me the 10 by accident, which is cheaper, but also does nothing. I wanted a running GPS and step tracker so that I didn’t have to also use a Fitbit. Rude!

After kickboxing and dinner, I set out for Target trip numero dos and this time I was accompanied by my friend Rachel. After I made my exchange, it was time to browse. I got two new workout shirts, one of which is this super cool Star Wars tee with the only characters who matter best characters: the originals!

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I also got another one I’ll debut a little later on this week. Also in my basket was a pair of super comfy pajamas that got me even more excited for fall.

That’s when we discovered the Halloween costumes. Had I not already had one in mind, I might have gotten lost. I can’t reveal my Halloween costume to you yet, but here are a few of the options we perused last night.

Rachel wearing a terrifying Teddy Bear mask. I hate masks!

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This weird, but far less frightening “Captain Cool” mask.

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Me as a piece of pizza, which we know is one of my favorite things!

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Also as a hot dog.

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And this flamingo hat that I’m fairly certain is taller than I am. It was heavy on my head, but if I bought it, it would have required I bend through a doorway for the first time in my life! I didn’t buy it for the record.

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Much silliness ensued, but it was all fun!

This morning, I woke up raring to try my new watch! First, I had a quick breakfast. An egg, cheese, and chicken sausage sandwich on an english muffin. It also had jalapeños. I had a berry bowl as well.

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Even though it was still warm and the sun was out in full force, the air is no longer dripping with humidity. I had an excellent 3.1 mile run and another .5 walk before I hopped in the shower and ran some errands. Now I’ve got in two loads of laundry (one for gross workout clothes and the other for sheets) and an afternoon of studying in which to look forward.

Happy Wednesday to you!

My Textbook Thinks We’re Fat

Sometimes the titles of my blog posts write themselves. I’ve been reading the chapter on bioenergetics, which is how the body metabolizes energy and it keeps harping on the fact that the human body has endless supplies of fat to burn. We get it, textbook, thanks a lot.

Last night, I had a dream that left me feeling quite clever. I’m actually impressed with my dream state-of-mind. JK Rowling and I were BFFs. Well, okay, she was more of a mentor figure and there was no level of intellectual equality whatsoever, but I was still in her presence and learning from her. It’s a pity I don’t recall all of the wisdom I must have learned- I suspect that she too probably had this dream and it was real (DON’T TELL ME OTHERWISE). JK Rowling gave me, and some random people I care not to identify, not because I’m a jerk or secretive, but because I don’t remember) a quest to find some sort of item. I know, just like in Harry Potter! The item was something you could only discover through tears, which I discovered in my dream. This just goes to show how strong my imagination is even in this dream-filled state.

Writing down this dream does not seem to justify my point, but I still think it was silly, odd, and a little cool. Dreams are weird and I rarely understand them, but sometimes they sit with you and make you think you are going crazy. 

I finished my productive Sunday with a five mile run and a one mile walk in the rain that made me feel strong and happy. I also folded and put away my laundry and fit in some studying.

Dinner was roast chicken with stuffing, roasted potatoes and squash, spinach, and corn. You have to go all out when it’s finally cool enough to put on the oven!

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My morning started off on a delicious note. An egg and veggie scramble with spinach, tomato, and jalapeños, topped with cheese, was accompanied by whole grain waffles (I know I have a problem) and a banana.

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Breakfast fueled me through the dumbbell strength and core workout I did with my sister Lauren, as well as through my mile lap swim. It was quite the workout and by the time I got home and showered, I was ready for lunch!

I’ve been complimented on my sandwich making abilities before and I can’t say that I disagree. This particular sandwich included chicken, provolone, bacon, and spicy mustard. On the side, I enjoyed carrots, celery, and red peppers with hummus as well as some tostitos. I have NO idea why autocorrect just changes tostitos to tomtits, but it made me incredibly happy and I just had to share. Thank you, autocorrect.

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The afternoon was spent sitting outside, enjoying the cool breeze and the warm sun, sipping on pumpkin spice coffee, wearing a sweatshirt, and studying my hardest. These concepts are not the easiest I’ve ever had to comprehend, but I’m learning how much hard work and dedication pay off.

To end this post, I dare to share a selfie of my new hair…without make-up! I know, I’m a total badass. But at least I’m a blonder badass.

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Buggy The Slayer of Absolutely No One

Whoa boy! Yesterday’s workouts took a lot out of me, but they were powerful! After I finished breakfast and blogging, I got myself to the gym for a strength workout. I went through my go-to power moves and my muscles were not disappointed.

You may remember last week when I did this same workout and tried to deadlift with 45 lbs on each side and couldn’t do it. I felt strong during my entire session, so I decided to give it another try. Granted, I really had to pump myself up, but I did it! Success! It was really a moment of pride that had me grinning and sweating from head to toe. The trick is to maintain a firm grip on the barbell while lifting so much weight. The rest of the workout went great too and I finished with a core workout that included curtsy lunges, push ups, mermaid raises, leg raises, and Russian twists. Phew!

After my workout, I hopped in the shower because I was super sweaty and gross. I know it’s strange, but I love this feeling if only because it shows the effort I put into it. If I’m not sweaty, I feel as though I haven’t pushed myself.

This salad came together in no time thanks to leftover tilapia. It included sweet baby lettuce, shredded carrots, chopped red pepper and cucumber, chickpeas, walnuts, feta cheese, and red pepper flakes. So good! I enjoyed with a piece of cinnamon raisin toast. In lieu of the apple which wasn’t tasting fresh, I enjoyed a few pieces of pineapple that added just the right touch of sweetness.

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It was a major day of studying and I felt accomplished! I’ve moved onto learning about the cardiorespiratory system, which I find to be a lot less complicated, thank all that is good and pure. I did find this tidbit about inspiration, which is actually just inhalation, striking.

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As you can tell, I turned this into a Snapchat moment. What stands out to me is how inspiration in the physical sense means to breathe, while in the figurative sense means to be motivated. We really do draw breath, both literally and figuratively, in the things that inspire us.

The rest of the day included more studying, some babysitting, a dip in the pool, and maybe my favorite part of the day: kickboxing!

I haven’t gotten a chance to take this class again thanks to work and other obligations, but I was so glad I got to tonight! Maybe part of me is drawn to the fact that I have a lot to improve upon when it comes to my kickboxing skills, or that I just need to take some aggression out on the air by punching and kicking. I think it really is just me channeling my inner Buffy. *Note: As I typed “Buffy,” I accidentally typed Buggy and I found it to be too amusing. Just call me Buggy the Vampire Slayer. (Except, please don’t try to bite me).

Anyways, I was a sweaty mess by the end of the class and my arms are sore, but I really did feel powerful.

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Do I look at all intimidating?

As for my moment of strength, I cannot decide between my deadlift achievement or my kickboxing fun, so I’ll go with both! No matter if you’re a seasoned pro or starting new, you will surprise yourself by how much power you have in you. Just have to try it first!

Dinner included a fresh piece of swordfish that was marinated in some teriyaki sauce and grilled to perfection. We paired it with a few Chinese food items, broccoli, and spinach.

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The rest of my night included some more studying, writing, and doing much of nothing at all. Happy Hump Day!

How Books (Not of the Text Variety) Help You Learn

This week, my book of choice has been The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. The novel is a work of historical fiction, focusing on Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, as they navigate their lives during the early part of his career.

I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t read much of anything from Hemingway, though I certainly am interested in doing so now. He appears to be a complex, troubled man whose entire life focused around his passion for writing. In the story at least, many of his actions are narcissistic, making me cringe at how he treats his wife at times, but even more so at her blind willingness to follow him. This could simply be a facet of that era, but it is especially frustrating near the end of the book, which I will not delve into further so I don’t spoil it for you.

McLain shows flashes of Hemingway’s own perspective on the story, though rare, which aims to humanize him a bit more than the protagonist, Hadley, discusses as she simply idolizes and adores him, despite his misgivings. The book plays out as Hadley tells the story of their marriage, the beginning and the demise (which is not a spoiler per se), speaking in the present, but also at times with a touch of hindsight. Their time together was romantic and nostalgic, imperfect and complicated, but very intriguing.

At the end of the book, McLain discusses the research that went into creating this story. Since it is historical, the focus is on real people, though fiction allows for some improvising. I wouldn’t know how true to the real people McLain remains, but she brings life and layers to her characters, providing them with traits and flaws that are both likable and disagreeable, a mark of excellent characterizations. The story also leaves me brimming with curiosity to learn more about the real people, through biographies as well as Hemingway’s fiction.

Writers, especially at this time when the role was so glamorized and American authors were starting to come on the scene, are fascinating. This is why the most interesting part of the novel was the depiction of very famous writers of this age. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and even James Joyce are mentioned and characterized. Paris is the main landscape and it is fascinating to learn more about how writers functioned in these times, struggling for success and living and traveling with little money.

I think it helps a bit to see that even these esteemed writers struggled, especially as they were developing their craft. Writing often seems chic and melodic, which are beliefs based off of the final product, though I’ve learned that the entire process is long, difficult, and deliberate. If you’re lucky, there are days when the words flow onto the page, with fingers not able to type or write fast enough to keep up with the thoughts and ideas. There are also days when even forming a string of words together to create one sentence is meticulous and frustrating. With writing, you have to know a lot about the world, at least at the point where you understand and explore your own perspective, but you also have to actively search and research for others.

In college, the biggest lesson for me to learn about writing- and trust me, there were many I gained- was that what you first put down on the page will very rarely be the final copy. This is true for any short stories I write, and a bit less so on these blog posts because I sort of just let myself fly. To be a decent writer, a lot more time and patience has to go into a creation than the time it took to write the first draft.

Early on in Hemingway’s career, Hadley accidentally lost a suitcase full of the majority of his work, on her way to meet him in another country. This is the equivalence of hard-drive failure and the inability to procure what you wrote. I’ve been in the situation where I feel as though I’ve written a good enough essay only for it to disappear and though you can bring some of it back to life, it will never be as well-worded or the same to what you had before. However, the book Hemingway forgave his wife and though done with a heavy-heart, saw this as an opportunity to make a fresh, clean start and it worked for him. Though I wouldn’t go so far as to lose everything, there is definitely something to not being overly attached to the words you put down if there are better ways to play with them. This was another important lesson from my college writing classes and it hurts more than you would think to erase what you thought was good, but doesn’t quite fit.

I enjoyed the book overall, though I wasn’t in love with it. More than anything it helped me to be more reflective about my own writing and my passion that drives me. There is a constant reminder needed that even if you are talented in something, true, quality work is not simply provided to you, but the result of hard-work and dedication. Yes, there has to be a natural propensity for that particular craft, but it will never flourish if you don’t put in the time.

I recommend The Paris Wife if you are interested in historical fiction, Hemingway, or just want to get lost in a story.