Fit Life

Let’s talk workouts! I’ve been going back and forth with how to split my routine throughout the week and I think I came up with the dynamic that works best for me.

*Please forgive the rattiness of the paper in which my workouts are scrolled. It’s been through a lot this week and its appearance cannot be helped.

This week of workouts started on Sunday with some bicep and shoulder action. As last week included six sets of eight- sometimes a drag- this week was four sets of twelve reps so we were focused on endurance and power! Performed in circuit fashion, I did six exercises of each muscle group before continuing on for the next three sets. After my biceps and shoulders had their fill, I moved onto core exercises, which I try to do every day.  For cardio, I had walked with my mom and the dog beforehand, so I headed out.

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On Monday, it was time for the triceps and chest! Similar set up for this round: six exercises for each muscle group, four sets, twelve reps. Burn! More core work followed up with cardio- heavy ropes, tabata style, and a few minutes on the row machine.

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Day Three brought us to the leg and back portion of the week. I like the combination of legs/back especially when it comes to deadlifts and bent-over rows because those muscle groups are working hard together to get the exercises done. The difference in this day is that I did not perform each exercise circuit style, but completed all sets and reps of one before moving on. It takes more time, but the set up on these are more complicated than just grabbing a kettlebell or a pair of dumbbells as I had to fix up the barbells and the cables, running all over the gym. I did finish the core part via circuit and got some good jump roping time in there.

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Today was run day and the weather was spectacular! It’s 70 degrees in early March, no snow or ice on the ground, and I can’t help but feel a little giddy. I snapped these pictures mid-run, so go ahead and be impressed!

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Since it was so nice, I wanted to extend the run and make it a little more special. I haven’t run around the lake since early fall when I was trekking out for 6.25-10 miles on the regular. As you might remember, I had to cut back because my muscles were overexerted, causing my feet to fall asleep! I’ve kept it to about four miles ever since, but the push felt nice today! 6.25 miles overall!

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Look at this view!

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The very worst part of this workout was the final climb back home. I walked it and it’s all uphill and after a long run, I was struggling. Phew! Happiness and a little bit of pain is pretty much the grounds for a solid run!

Since I’m nice, I’ll also give you a sneak peek of Thursday’s total body workout. This one is kettlebell and plyometric heavy and I’m already feeling tired! I tried to incorporate some compound movements into the routine as well. We’ll see how well that jump roping and sprints come out at the end.

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Friday will include some kind of cardio and then Saturday is a much-deserved rest day!

Happy exercising! If it’s nice out, take it outside, even if it’s just for a walk!

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Don’t Let My Brain Power Intimidate You (And Other Things I Should Never Say)

Happy Friday! I have a busy study day in front of me, but I’m procrastinating wanted to pop in and say hello before the weekend!

This morning, I set my alarm and intended to fit in a strength workout before my spin class, but when the alarm blared, I decided it was in my best interest to delay the workout and fit in an extra hour’s rest. It wasn’t a terrible decision, but I think I would have been fine getting up. I can get up no problem when I have to, but it’s finding that extra motivation when I don’t necessarily have to that is tricky.

So long as I get in my exercise!

Before exercising, my stomach was rumbling, so I fixed myself an egg, ham, and cheese on an English muffin, guzzled two large glasses of water, and sipped on a coffee.

Spin class was awesome today and I found I was able to push myself even harder than last week. Cycling is a great addition to my cardio workouts that mostly include running and swimming. I like keeping it to one day a week and adding a day of plyometrics to round everything out. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of sprinting (in the aftermath).

With my cardio done, I worked through a dumbbell circuit, 5 sets of 10 reps of shoulder presses, bicep curls, lying tricep extensions, shoulder/front raises, rows, and bench presses, followed by barbell squat presses and leg presses. Whew. I finished with a quick core workout- still feeling the effects of that ab roller from Monday!- and headed home nice and sweaty to a yogurt, peanut butter, pomegranate refueler.

Going back to yesterday’s dinner, here’s a look at leftovers: chicken with white sauce, spinach rice, and a fresh vegetable medley of spinach, peppers, and mushrooms.

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Now off to study so I can revel you all with fancy fitness terms like I did yesterday with proprioception. For example, you better believe I was proprioceptively aware of my quads during those final sprints in spin class today. (I’m not positive I used that correctly, but I trust you to believe in me blindly and not research).

Why Did the Turkey Cross the Road?

I should blog about the new R. City/Adam Levine song “Locked Away” more often because a bunch of people keep googling it and finding my blog that way. Welcome! Please stay and never leave me.

This morning, I woke up for an early workout and it was fabulous. My first thought when my alarm went off was, “I want to sleeeeeeeeeeep!” But then I opened my eyes and felt fine, so I popped right up and never actually felt tired all through a workout and work day. My workout was a heavy dumbbell strength workout. I performed a circuit of moves six times at eight reps each, going up in weight only slightly. The circuit included shoulder presses, bicep curls, tricep extensions, rows, front raises/shoulder raises, bench presses, squat presses, leg presses, and another move I read about how good it was but don’t know the name of it. It’s a thing. I also ran through a core circuit of lunge curtsies, kneeling kickbacks, tricep push ups, mermaid raises, reverse crunch twists, and leg lifts with a flare. I only had time for a few minutes of planking before it was time to get ready for work.

My way home was unexpectedly delayed by the flock of TURKEYS running out in front of me on the road. Of course I stopped for them, but I was unimpressed. They even had the nerve to do that motion people make when trying to cross quickly that mimics running, but is actually slower than if they just walked. You feel me?

Today was a pretty exceptional food day. A breakfast snack started early before my morning workout, which consisted of a peanut butter roll up. It really is the best fuel for my workouts because it’s packed with energy and protein, but not too heavy. My post-workout breakfast was a chicken sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich on an english muffin. I also had a banana with a little peanut butter and some blueberries.

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Lunch included a beautiful salad, slice of pizza, and a refreshing Chobani with grapes. This is my new favorite concoction. Red grapes are so juicy, sweet, and delicious and pair so well with the tangy yogurt. Pizza and salad ain’t bad either.

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I am quite proud of my dinner. I had some fresh tilapia on hand, so I decided to create a little experimental in my kitchen. I tossed together some bread crumbs, paprika, red pepper flakes, onion powder, blackening seasoning, and cayenne pepper with a little olive oil and lemon juice. I smeared the seasoning on the tilapia with a pat of butter and grilled the fish to perfection. It was actually perfect, which has nothing to do with me and everything to do with luck. Or, Pinterest for telling me how long to cook tilapia. It was divine. I had some brown rice to go with the fish, as well as a huge medley of vegetables: spinach, peppers, zucchini, and tomato.

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The tomato was the first product of this year’s garden! It was so tasty and sweet, but also look how beautiful it was on the inside! I almost didn’t want to eat it. Almost.

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My moment of strength came from my inspiration in the kitchen! I created a wonderful, tasty, and nutritional meal that left me feeling full and satisfied in my stomach, heart, and soul.

Julie Andrews Is A Goddess Angel Baby

Last night, I drifted off to sleep listening to the Oscars. At some point, I woke up and it was still playing. When they announced Lady Gaga was performing next, I declared it time for bed. Little did I know that JULIE FREAKING ANDREWS would be making an appearance at the end of her performance. Julie Andrews is a goddess angel baby and I would have liked to see the beautiful moment when the entire audience gave her the standing ovation she deserves. I mean, I got to see it on Youtube, and for the record, Gaga rocked it, but it would have been a real life moment. This is why the Oscars don’t need to be 5.78 hours long. And on a Sunday night!

When I was younger, I used to watch The Sound of Music over and over again- bless my Nana who watched it with me- but I was an active participant, pretending to be Liesel or Maria, putting on a pretty dress and leaping across my living room while singing as loud as I could. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I feel it is a pertinent moment in my life. Julie Andrews is the essence of talent and class.

My love of celebrities battled my love of sleep and sleep won out. Granted, not until after I saw Chris Evans present. It doesn’t help that many of my favorites didn’t even attend. In that case, my curiosity would have gotten the best of sleep.

Despite keeping me up later than usual, waking up this morning for my workout didn’t prove too difficult. It was more of the prospect of stepping outside into the freezing cold world that made things difficult. After a large glass of water, I brewed myself a small cup of coffee and ate a tortilla stuffed with almond butter, banana, and strawberries. I made a few of these, along with a couple of eggs, to be prepared for the week ahead. I did try to mix things up a bit, so you’ll see more throughout the week.

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My workout today included a kettlebell circuit that got the blood flowing. I ran through 4 sets of 10 reps of swings, deadlifts, high lifts, arrow lunges, and kickback rows. After, I did a few planks- 1.5 minutes for a front plank, 1 minute on each side for side planks. More strength training was on the menu and I did 4 sets of 10 reps of dumbbells- alternating shoulder to knee presses, hammer curls, then shoulder raises, overhead tricep extensions, and bench presses on the stability ball. Nouha joined me, which helped me forget how early it was!

I wanted to take a break from running due to my left foot falling asleep the day before, so I rode the elliptical for a mediocre cardio workout for 20 minutes, followed by 4 minutes on the bike doing a Tabata Interval workout. It was a great workout and an amazing way to start the day!

After coming home and getting ready for the rest of my day, I made an egg and cheese sandwich. One egg, a few pieces of pepper jack cheese, on top of an English muffin, and a side of blueberries and sweet pineapple, made an excellent morning pick-me-up.

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It’s hard to believe that four of these meatballs are one serving because they are so filling and tasty! On Sunday, I stir fried a bunch of vegetables and brown rice, enough to make two lunches, and took half of it for yesterday’s lunch. To go along with these ginger teriyaki chicken meatballs, I sautéed everything in a teriyaki marinade, which was an excellent combination. To complete my meal, I polished off a pear- a recent obsession- and two hershey nuggets. Perfecto!

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Dinner provided a medley of flavors and colors. Steak fajitas are one of our favorite meals, which we complemented with peppers, mushrooms, and a salad made of lettuce, carrots, and tomato. For mine, I folded my tortilla in half like a quesadilla and filled it with cheese. I had a couple of spoonfuls of rice to go along with it.

Improvisational Cooking: Creative in the Kitchen

As a writer and daydreamer, I like to think that I am observational. I do have supreme organizational skills and can focus on smaller details, but last night, from the lack of sleep the night before, I was kind of a mess. I couldn’t stop yawning and was tucked into my bed by 9:00 PM on the dot. And I don’t remember much after that. After dinner, I enjoy a cup of peppermint tea to ease digestion and settle my stomach for rest, but I made it halfway through my cup last night before I realized it tasted funny. I never put the tea bag into the cup, so I was just drinking hot water and didn’t even notice. I think this says more about me and how tired I was yesterday than the tea, which is just awkward.

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Notice the tea bag in this photo! Evidence that I haven’t completely gone bonkers- yet.

Looking at this picture, I can see that it is not one of my “dark” days for my eyebrows. Yes, I have eyebrows. When I was teaching, I had a student ask me why I didn’t have any, which was discouraging. I happen to have alarmingly light eyebrows, lasting remnants of what was once shockingly white blonde hair from the ages of 3-5. I had no hair before that, prompting my mother to pierce my ears from the moment I left the womb and forcing her to tape little pink bows on top of my head. My hypothesis is that my light eyebrows and thin hair are the product of the same thing, but what that thing is, I don’t know. All I know is that very light, almost non-existent, eyebrows cause my already large head to appear larger. Some might even say that I have a five-head. It’s good that I can talk about it now.

The cold does not make waking up early and trekking it to the gym any easier. Since I’ve survived so far, my hope is that once it’s warmer-if it ever is- and the day’s longer, it will be even easier to wake up in the morning. My one complaint, other than the usual dreadfulness of hearing the alarm clock blast, is stepping outside into the frigid air and waiting eons for the car to warm up. I don’t even wait, I just drive, and by the time I’m comfortable, I’m pulling into the gym. Wah. It’s been good so far though and there’s no denying how much better I feel throughout my day once I’ve gotten that workout in!

My day started with a scoop of peanut butter, chopped banana and strawberries, rolled into a whole wheat tortilla. I would have snapped a picture, but the banana wasn’t looking too fresh- even though it tasted great- and I didn’t think it needed to be documented forever.

At the gym, it fueled me through a kettlebell and a dumbbell circuit. For each, I did 4 sets of 12 reps. Kettlebells included swings, deadlifts, shoulder raises, high lifts, and mermaid raises. For dumbbells, I made it through kickback rows, alternating shoulder presses, alternating bicep curls, alternating front lifts, and used the stability ball for overhead extensions and bench presses. Alternating weight, grips, and equipment- even for the same moves- help to keep your body guessing and makes a workout more effective. I haven’t done box jumps in a few days, so I went through 4 sets of 12 reps of those and did a short plank sequence before jumping on the treadmill for a two-miler.

I was feeling nice and energized after a shower and sat down to enjoy this bowl of oats. The night before, I mixed oats, cinnamon, raisins, dates, mashed banana, walnuts, and milk to make overnight oatmeal. I threw some blueberries in there for an extra health kick. The cold oats with my hot coffee made a nice dynamic duo and I was satiated until lunchtime.

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I was such a big fan of my lunch! I had more of these chicken meatballs- four is one serving and they are so SO good! I threw them into stir-fried veggies of peppers, carrots, baby spinach, mushrooms, and snap peas on top of some rice and mixed it all with a thai peanut sauce. It made my stomach happy because it was yummy and healthy! I rounded out my meal with a juicy orange. This time of year, it’s better to have an excess of vitamin C than not enough to stave off colds!

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Look at these bad boys. Aren’t they beautiful? I had high hopes for these fish tacos. I seasoned tilapia with a little Cajun seasoning, chopped it up and tossed them onto two corn tortillas with a medley of fresh veggies- baby kale, butternut squash, zucchini, peppers, and mushrooms. I also drizzled some cheese and more of that Thai peanut sauce on top. Once I bit into it, it became apparent that the shells were not sturdy. Improvising, I decided the tortillas didn’t taste well enough to waste on my calories, so instead I took out the filling and ate it like a stir fry. For my grains, I had two pieces of whole wheat sour dough toast. The end result was a divine meal, even if it didn’t look as pretty as what you see now.

photo 3Reminder that food can still be fun and tasty when it’s healthy. It just means you- or the person who cooks for you- has to tap into their more creative side. I forget this sometimes, especially when it comes to the weekend, but I’m making more of an effort to try new recipes and home cooking rather than spending money on food out at restaurants. Half the time now, I find myself disappointed or thinking I could have made a dish fresher, healthier, and tastier, not to mention cheaper, if I made it myself at home. Maybe this means I need to have a dinner party!

Singing Out Loud, Singing Proud

If you know me at all, you know that I am prone to spontaneous singing. It can’t be helped, sometimes I don’t even realize I’m doing it. I do however, have a censor when it comes to how loud I sing. For example, in public situations, I mutter quietly or inside my head. When I’m at my house or comfortable somewhere, the loudness of my voice cannot be contained. My mom has politely pointed out that in summer, when the windows are open, the neighborhood can hear me, but honestly I know most of my neighbors and they can deal. If it happens when someone is talking or on the phone, then sorry, but talk louder. Don’t even get me started with the rocking out I do in the car! It might be best for us all if I were better at singing, but that’s life.

Meals today started off well, but ended in indulgence. I don’t feel guilty because there’s more snow in the forecast this weekend, which means we probably won’t make it out of the house. We may never see the real world again.

An egg and a cheesestick are the perfect pairing to jumpstart the metabolism and prepare me for a tough workout! I trekked to the gym in full snow gear and got right into a kettlebell strength routine. After some swings, deadlifts, high pulls, mermaid raises, and Russian twists. After four sets of twelve reps, I switched over to dumbbells and performed a circuit of alternating shoulder presses, rows with kickbacks, alternating overhead presses, bicep curls, shoulder raises, and bench presses. For my cardio fix, I started with a plyometrics circuit that left me breathless and sweaty before jumping on the treadmill for some exhausting sprints. A quick plank was the cherry on top and I left ready and energized to start my day. photo 1 I may not like it so much when the alarm first goes off, but I LOVE morning workouts! Post-workout, I dug into this pre-prepared peanut butter and jelly sandwich, banana on the side, while on the move. It had a touch of sweetness to perfectly complement the saltiness of crunchy peanut butter. If you are seeking good peanut butter brands, I recommend Teddie because the ingredient list is short and natural! photo 2By the time I was able to heat up lunch, my stomach was roaring! So sensitive. I started with a crunchy, juicy apple before digging into this stir fry. With a medley of veggies, leftover chicken from Trader Joes, and brown rice, my stomach was quickly placated. I love the chicken, but I wouldn’t get it all the time as it’s a bit of a splurge on calories. Great flavor and much better quality than any of those other frozen chicken brands. photo 3For dinner, my parents and I made an impromptu visit to our favorite Mexican spot. My go-to meal is usually the blackened salmon salad, but I had just had salmon this week and I was craving something cheesy and warm. I went with the pulled beef quesadilla stuffed with cheese and chopped peppers, with a huge glass of water and too many tostito chips.This was so big, I went home with half of it! photo 4 As I type these posts, I feel invigorated with new inspiration by writing more in-depth every day, but I’m not sure if it feels too all over the place. Let me know if it’s too much!

When Your Legs Feel Strong, Run With It!

Workouts this week were a bit upset due to the storm. On Wednesday, I was sore from all the shoveling and standing all day, so I didn’t do any sort of official workout. I was back to it on Thursday for my early morning workout, despite growing quickly accustomed to sleeping in a tad later than 5:00 AM!

On Thursday, my legs were itching for some quality cardio, so I started out with a body strength workout, including box jumps, dips, lunges, squats, kickbacks, push ups, mountain climbers, mermaid raises, hip lifts, crunches, Russian twists, and finishing up with a few planks. After, I hopped onto the treadmill for a run that left me nice and sweaty.

Friday morning was difficult to get up. Due to a few flakes still falling, I wasn’t certain if it was too slippery at that point, but things didn’t seem bad, so I got my butt out of bed and to the gym. I went through a difficult dumbbell strength routine, performing 2 sets of 12 reps, 1 set of 10 reps, 1 set of 8 reps, 1 set of 6 reps, and 1 set of 4 reps. My arms and shoulders were quite sore throughout the day after that. To top off my workout, I hopped onto the elliptical for 25 minutes of interval training.

I met my sister at the gym on Saturday night before we went out for dinner and led us through a strength routine using medicine and stability balls. We finished with planks before moving onto cardio. I got back onto the treadmill and found I was feeling very strong and felt the urge to run faster than usual. When that happens, you can’t fight it, because so often it’s the opposite and you’re itching to get it over with! I was sad when I ended up .08 away from an even 3 miles because the gym was closing and I had to leave!

Knowing that it would be busy on Sunday morning due to the big game later on, I headed out for a late morning workout expecting to be frazzled by all the people. It actually wasn’t too bad and I was able to get through a barbell strength routine. I did my usual routine, but mixed up my sets and reps to trick my body. I did 2 sets of ten reps, 2 sets of 8 reps, and 2 sets of 6 reps, going up in weight each time. For my bench presses, I tacked on 2 sets of 4 reps and was able to lift 100 pounds! It was pretty exciting, considering I can’t be too risky when I don’t have anyone spotting me. For my cardio, I did 25 minutes on the elliptical, but then I was still riding high on those endorphins and decided to fit in another 15 minutes of running.

Monday morning with the looming snow and a series of heavy workouts the days before was a scheduled rest day. Have no fear, I got plenty of movement in with the shoveling once again. It was a little painful to hear the alarm blaring on Tuesday morning at 5:30 AM, but I got myself up and fit in a body strength routine, some Yoga, and a quick bike ride at home.  The snow can’t keep me down!

Some kettle bells were on the menu as I completed a few sets of swings, deadlifts, shoulder raises, high lifts, and rows. After, I hopped on the treadmill for a run, which felt good to get moving after being held in captivity due to all the snow. So. Much. Snow.

It’s good to know that even though there are days when working out seems overwhelming or like the last thing your body wants to do, there are also days when you feel super strong and like you could conquer the world. The important thing is to always listen to your body!