weekend and travel plans

This weekend was one of relaxation after traveling. I did a lot of nothing, with some exercise thrown in to assuage the guilt.

I had taken a week off from working out thanks to my travel last week and it was much needed. On Saturday, I got back to it with a total body strength routine and some spinning and I was feeling those DOMS on Sunday. A run/walk combo helped stretch out my sore legs in particular, but they were still achey on Sunday night and this morning! I have a love/hate for this kind of pain, but it is the good kind of pain. I guess it was time to mix things up with my plan.

I was also able to catch up on sleep, which had gotten messed up when I took a red-eye to Boston last Friday. I don’t sleep well on planes, especially with my legs feeling a bit cramped. I had a couple of hours to nap once arriving home before my mom and I got mani/pedis for my cousin’s wedding. It was dancing time at the beautiful ceremony and reception and we were up past 2 am, which meant I was awake for the better part of 24+ hours and jet lagged. Whew. But it was well worth it.

The rest of my break was spent with my family, shopping, going to movies and dinner, and spending some quality time. It’s always hard to leave, but it was great to see everybody. Even though it’s a long flight from coast-to-coast, particularly east-to-west, it was nice to gain three hours of the day on the way back.

I captured some snapshots from the plane:

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It was hard to not include the wing of the plane in my photos, so that accounts for the odd angles.

Somehow, it’s Monday again. Enjoy it!

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how to be a morning workout (crazy) person

Let me be honest. Morning workouts are amazing. You get to check-off a bullet on your to-do list first thing. You feel great, you’re doing something great for your body, and you don’t have to think about exercise the rest of your day. But also, waking up sucks.

Unless you’re one of those magical unicorns who enjoys waking up with the sun, it’s hella hard to do it. When I started my work day at 8:30 am, morning exercise wasn’t something I considered because I don’t believe in waking up before 6:00 am unless I’m going on vacation. To me, 5:00 am is the middle of the night. Also, I really appreciate a solid 7-8 hours of sleep a night and I don’t want to go to bed at 9:00 pm. I like sleeping and I like having my evenings to decompress after work…so what’s a girl to do?

Pick your poison.

My ideal workout time of day is mid-late morning, but that is not something a person can realistically accomplish when working a 9-5 job. When I was a personal trainer, I made my own hours and it was glorious, but also spoiled me. Switching over to my production job, I knew I needed to go after work and many times, after running around all day, my mind and body were exhausted. I still went because I’d go nuts without my exercise, and it was a solid way of letting the day go, but I didn’t feel as though I was maximizing my body’s potential. You do what you gotta do and you make the best of it, but now that I’m in my new position, I go into work a half hour later and it’s made all the difference.

Thankfully- knock on wood- traffic is also better, so I only need to wake up 40 minutes earlier in order to fit in a full hour workout AND a quick sit-down breakfast. Part of this, is once I’m readying for my day, I’ve already been up for a bit and don’t linger in the shower still half asleep.

But how do I not hit the snooze button once the alarm goes off? Not sheer will power, I just know myself. Once that alarm goes off, I know morning has arrived, and regardless of having these extra minutes of sleep available to me, I know I’m not going to get fully back to sleep and then I’ll be slow and mopey. So when the alarm goes off, I get up, and remind myself that working out now is always better than later. Play tricks on yourself, it works.

I have about ten minutes to get ready before I hop in my car, so to prepare myself for this, I have my clothes out, my bag packed, and my water bottle filled and waiting in the fridge for me to grab on my way out. I brush my teeth, throw my hair into a ponytail, and go. Once at the gym, it might take a rep or five to have my muscles wake up, but they get going and they’re thankful for it. I’m refreshed in mind, body, and soul, and it makes a huge difference.

Another reason I’ve been successful at working out in the morning is that exercise is a habit. It should be as intuitive as brushing your teeth and eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Most days, it doesn’t occur to me not to workout. I need it to feel better and stronger. Exercise, it makes you stronger physically and emotionally.

Number one reason I’m free to workout in the morning: I don’t have a child or anyone else to take care of in the morning.

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).

May Greetings!

It must be the end of the week because I just had to be told I was wearing my sweatshirt backwards. The terrible thing is, I thought it was strange when I couldn’t find the front pocket, but it didn’t alert me to maybe see what was happening. One could say I have so many other things going on, I couldn’t be bothered with such frivolous details. One would be too kind.

The day started off with a little bit of an eff you from my alarm. I thought I still had some time, so I rolled over to lay on my side just as my alarm blared. It was really mean, but it offended me such much, it woke me right up. Nicely played, Siri? *When speaking in terms of iPhones, I just blame Siri for everything.

I got things moving with a body strength workout at the gym. Side step ups are harder than they look, especially when followed by elevated calf raises, two different types of squats, two different kinds of lunges, kneeling kickbacks using a very tight resistance band, and elevated hip lifts on a stability ball. My legs were sore! I also went through tricep dips, push ups, mountain climbers, mermaid raises, sit ups, Russian twists, and roll outs. After, I was stoked to hop in the pool, even though it was a bit crowded and I was wall side in my lane, which in hate because I feel claustrophobic. I also enjoy swimming in the middle lanes of the pool because it has the whole open water effect. I’m a freak, I know. *For the record, if you out me in actual open water, I would panic and drown myself by accident. I fit in a solid mile and left the gym jazzed for the day.

For breakfast, I heated up the new breakfast sandwich machine to excellent results. It’s super easy to use, it’s fast, and you don’t have to do much fussing about, so I can get organized without feeling rushed. This also allows me a little longer time at the gym. Fresh fruit topped off my yummy meal.

 

I was- ok, my mom- was right about the whole fat in my meal thing. A little cheese left me fuller for longer and I didn’t even think of eating again until a few, appropriate, hours later. Lunch was a stir fry with buckwheat noodles,  chicken, veggies, and the aforementioned cheese. For a snack, I had the juiciest orange and a cup of Trader Joes coconut cream Greek yogurt that was incredible. Seriously, it was so good, but it did have a little more sugar than I would normally allot for a snack.

  It was all about the veggies for dinner. I tossed a shaved Brussels sprout salad together for a fresh side,malong with kebabs with grilled chicken, pepper, and zucchini. Because we were going to make it earlier in the week and didn’t, we also had cauliflower au gratin and a side of brown spinach rice. So good!

It’s Friday, friends, which means one more morning until I can sleep in! Also, only a few more hours until I get to see my husband, Chris Evans, up on the big screen again. Avengers Assemble! 

Oh! And happy. May!

Legs As White As Snow

At dinner over the weekend, I wore one of my new dresses and was feeling really good about myself. My calves are my best features as they have been honed by strength training and running and I’m quite proud of them. We were standing around talking before heading out and my aunt asked me if I put anything on my legs. My initial assumption was to believe that she was complimenting them in some way as they may have looked shiny or something, but then she said, “Oh, I thought you were wearing white stockings.”

Listen, it’s been a long, bleary winter. Forgive me if my body is pasty and as white as snow.

I can’t believe at this point that Monday has already come and gone and we are into Tuesday. When my alarm went off in the morning, officially signaling the end of the weekend, I wanted to just snuggle into my pillow a little deeper. I had a bit of trouble falling asleep last night because my mind was racing with writing ideas. This is a positive, but I’m also tired, though as the day turned out, I didn’t feel overly tired.

Instead of rolling over, I rolled myself out of bed and threw on my clothes. I went through my usual routine and once I got to the gym, I started with some plank action. I’m alternating between full planks and forearm planks to mix things up. After, I meandered over to the barbells to run through circuit training. For each move, I performed reps by 10x8x6x4 going up in weight, then finished at a medium weight with 8x8x8. By the end, my muscles were feeling the effects of hard work. To throw in some cardio, I jumped on the treadmill for five minutes of sprints before doing some box jumps, jumping jacks, and jump rope. It was an excellent way to start the week!

Breakfast was a glorious invention my Aunt Dawn recommended. It’s an egg sandwich maker that allows you to cook everything within five minutes. All I had to do was throw in an English muffin, cheese, ham, and an egg. It came out toasty, melty, and delicious. It kept me full for a long while too and I wasn’t hungry again until it was lunchtime! Some fruit added to the meal.

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I made a couple of stir frys for the week on Sunday and this is one of them. Welcome back chicken teriyaki meatballs! I mixed my veggies with a little teriyaki sauce over buckwheat noodles and happily chowed down for lunch.

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No extra snack was needed as it was someone’s birthday at work and we had ice cream cake to celebrate. My favorite kind of anything!

For dinner, we broiled scallops- one of the best kinds of seafood!- and enjoyed them with some lobster ravioli. Spinach, peppers, and mushrooms were a nice added touch in the marinara sauce.

  
Nothing really else exciting to report except that I am trying to convince myself that my runny nose, deep cough, and chest burn are all to do with allergy symptoms rather than that terrible chest cold/flu that is going around. I can’t be sick for the beginning of May!

Attack of the Sleep Monster and What To Do For Lent (if that’s your kind of thing)

There is little worse than nights when you cannot sleep. I went to bed around 9:30 openly yawning and didn’t fall asleep well past midnight. It was one of those sleeps when you feel like you didn’t sleep at all, even though you probably did at some point. I fixed my alarm to skip the early morning workout because due to my lack of sleep, I was certain it wasn’t going to happen. Ended up I wasn’t sleeping well in the morning anyways and my alarm was an unwelcome sound blasting in my ears.

Sometimes this happens, drink coffee or tea, eat balanced meals, and suck it up.

I started my day still drowsy by mixing half a cup of milk with half a cup of water and boiling it for my oats. I tossed in some mashed banana, peanut butter, strawberries, blueberries, and cinnamon and mixed it all around until it was this delightful mixture. A nice warm bowl for another cold, snowy day.

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Lunch was a salad and soup kind of day. I chopped up some carrots, celery, peppers, and beets and threw it on top of a bed of baby spinach with a little feta, leftover pulled chicken, and Italian dressing. The soup was from Panera- which they sell in the grocery store- and it was mostly corn and black beans (supposedly chicken tortilla) but it was still pretty good.

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Dinner for the evening were steak tips, potatoes, cauliflower, peppers, and squash. Quite an arrangement of flavors and colors! Can you tell I’m obsessed with barbecue sauce lately, especially with steak? So good!

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One of my favorite yogurt combinations- I eat a Greek yogurt almost every afternoon- is an odd one. For awhile, I was going with the pomegranate seeds because they are so juicy and pair well with plain yogurt. Then I was being slightly lazy and running with the pre-flavored varieties. I took one look at the sugar content on those bad boys and knew it couldn’t be an every day occurrence. Now, I’m spooning in a handful of grapes- I prefer the black ones for their sweetness- and sometimes even a little teaspoon of chocolate chips. The grape-chocolate combination sounds like an odd one, but it’s really tasty!

Since it’s that time of year, I’ve been considering what I should give up for Lent. Sometimes, I’ll try to do more good things, which I’m definitely still considering, but I need to learn a new habit: staying away from the candy jars at work. This shouldn’t be so hard, but when you put something sweet in front of me and it’s 3:00 in the afternoon, I’m going to mindlessly dig into it. My hope is that by “giving it up for Lent,” I’ll learn NOT eating candy as a new habit. The other thing I need to do more of is standing while I work because sitting all day is going to detract from all those healthy benefits I gain from my morning workouts.

More suggestions for a healthy Lent? Giving up any kind of sweets or salty snacks is usually a good go-to. I wouldn’t give up all kinds though, maybe pick one or two, so that you’re mindful of what you’re eating, when, and why. Many times- I know I’m guilty of it- I’ll indulge without even taking enjoyment in it. In the end, it’s just more useless instant gratification without actual satisfaction. Another goal I’ll be working on in my life in general is doing things with intention. It sounds so much easier than it is! I’ve got a wedding to get ready for though as MOH and these pants are feeling a little tighter from the winter month and treats.

More good options are to start that regular workout routine. Dedicate time 4-5 days a week and go for 30-60 minutes every day. Exercise is my main source of stress release, but it took me awhile to get to that place. I mentioned the Elliptical machine that now RIP as my starting point. Find something, take your time, and get moving. It is so good for you and the benefits are so high!

Drink more water, less or no soda. Four years ago-AH!- when I was a junior in college, right before the moment that would kick me off on this weight loss journey, I was obsessed with soda. It was so easy to drink it every day, especially in a college cafeteria. I tried to give it up for Lent, knowing it was not a good habit, but it wasn’t an easy one to kick. I couldn’t do it then. My will was not strong, especially when I started having dreams about it. A year later and well into my weight loss journey, I decided to try it again. I haven’t made a regular habit of it since and I don’t miss it. Sure, I had my moments where I thought-NEED- but I overcame them, turned to fruity water (the natural kind with chopped lemons, limes, strawberries, etc) instead. So much of me changed just from this one little act. My taste for natural foods, like fruits and veggies, increased exponentially. My skin was clearer, I felt more energized, and less greasy. Keep in mind, I had a DIET soda habit, not regular. Both are pretty bad for you. Occasionally, especially if mixed with alcohol, i.e. Fresca with sangria, I’ll pour a little soda, but my taste for it has diminished.

Lent is another one of those times- if you choose- that help people focus on their habits and make changes. That doesn’t mean it’s the only time, but life is busy and we don’t always stop and realize what we’re doing until more of these days come to pass, i.e. New Years. Don’t see this “sacrifice” or choice as a negative thing, but as another notch in striving towards healthier, happier living.

If you’ve given something up for Lent before, then you’ll remember the feeling of Easter morning (or if you’re like my mom and aunts, Good Friday evening), and finally indulging in that tasty treat you’ve given up. You put so much care and appreciation into each bite, savoring all the tastes and morsels so mindfully. That’s how we should be eating every single thing that we eat. I’m not good at this, but I’m aware of it, and I’m ready to tackle it as my next challenge.

Mindfulness is a gift, but it’s also a skill that has to be practiced and honed. Care to join me?

Don’t Be Lazy: Whatever Gets You Through That Workout

When it comes to exercise, and life in general, I try to be kind to myself. Maintaining a positive attitude is the majority of the fight, and yet so often, this is something so many struggle to do.

For my workouts, I don’t see them as a chore or a negative thing, I would say 90% of the time. It’s become such an ingrained habit and part of my life that it doesn’t often take a lot to get me inspired, but I still have days where I would rather do anything else. This is particularly true on tired, dark mornings, though it hasn’t been too bad thus far.

When it comes to exercise, I try to do workouts that I enjoy so that it’s easier to keep doing it. If you don’t like it, you’ll resent it, and then resent exercise altogether. All it takes is a bit of a sense of adventure and experimentation.

To keep myself motivated in those spots I need it most, and sometimes it’s just to keep myself going when I’m bored on the treadmill, I either turn up my music louder, focus on my daydreams, or mutter inspirations to myself. You’ll remember one such time I told myself to “keep running kitten.” That borders bizarre, but it was so funny, it distracted me from that hump and helped me run longer.

One of my favorite mottos that inspired me throughout my weight loss efforts, and remains one of my sayings when it comes to workouts or doing things I don’t necessarily feel excited about doing, is, “don’t be lazy.”

My Nana would always say the old, “Why put off tomorrow what you can do today.” I see my saying as an abridged version that is quick, efficient, and effective. Obviously there are moments when one does need to lay off the exercise or can take a breath and do something later, but I prefer to refer to such moments as relaxation. Unnecessary laziness is poisonous and so gays to succumb to because people are busy, busy, busy and we let things slide. It helps that I’m a bit of a control freak, so I won’t let my mind rest until my to do list is checked off.

This morning when my alarm went off, I would have been content to turn it back on for later and curl back into my blankets. I suspected that if I did, it was quite possible that my guilty conscience would have woken me up anyways and plagued my now sleepless thoughts. Totally unproductive on all fronts. Instead, I grunted, “Don’t be lazy!” And got myself up and moving. Turns out, as it does 90% of the time! it was worth those few painful moments of tearing myself away from my precious bed.

Last week, anticipating I would be away on Saturday, I switched my rest days and ended up waking up early everyday last week. I started on Thursday facing a threat of snow, so decided to conquer my workout at home. My body was not overly excited as I made my way through a body strength workout, rode the bike for a few minutes, then ended with some Yoga. I was feeling tight and sore and didn’t get enough out of my workout to the point I was wondering if it was even worth it. I tend to do better workouts at the gym or out and about for the run. As it turns out, the snow did not come anyways, but I’m happy to reserve such at home workouts for snow days.

Friday, I got to the gym raring to go and went through six sets of eight reps on the dumbbells. For these, I lift heavier weight in shorter bursts, mostly to mix things up from my other strength days. I finished up with a run/walk on the treadmill where I walked on an incline for five, ran for five; walked for four, ran for four; walked for three, ran for three; walked for two, ran for two; walked for one, ran for one; increasing my incline and speed the shorter the intervals. I finished off my sweaty workout with a few sprints at a faster speed.

As I mentioned, I was in New York City on Saturday, and though we were on the bus for a good eight hours, we also did a lot of walking. For whatever reason, my legs were still sore on Sunday, so instead of getting to the gym, I took another day off and shopped instead. I have to tell you, as much as I like shopping, it works me up into a frenzy and as I was speed walking around that mall, I worked up a sweat! Between Christmas shopping and food shopping, I fit in a ton of walking, with a walk with the dog topping it off. I also was standing the entire day, getting various chores done, like chopping up veggies for the week and making meals. Sometimes, you just need that extra day.

I was feeling rejuvenated on Monday morning and had no trouble waking up and starting off my week with a barbell strength workout. I don’t change up these moves very often, except to increase weight or mix up the order of my routine. I’m quite proud of the variety I include and observing how far I’ve come. After, I jumped on the treadmill and got in a full thirty minute run, feeling strong. I started off at a slower pace and increased the speed slightly in five minute increments that kept things from turning boring and kept my body guessing.

It would have been easy to convince myself to just do a workout at home Tuesday morning, except I reminded myself how much of a waste it had been the week before and how I would feel better once I got up and moving. It was definitely one of those, “Don’t be lazy!” days, but it worked, and I made my way through a leg heavy body strength, Plyometrics, and Yoga workout that is still leaving me sore (in a good way this time).

This morning, I met my friend Nouha not-so-bright and early for a dumbbell strength workout and a run on the treadmill. It helped knowing that Thursday is my off day and we are having some family holiday fun later tonight! Speaking of, check in tomorrow for some thoughts and reflections on my favorite holiday traditions!

And remember, when it comes to exercising and the holidays, try to maintain a regular schedule. Don’t be like those resolutioners who rely on one day a year to make changes that don’t last. The best changes are the ones inspired by yourself, not a culture craze.