Getting Back Into Routine

Happy birthday to my brother’s girlfriend, Cait!

So my sister and I might be the nerdiest sisters around. In truth, she’s the smart (and nerdy) one as she’s a librarian, but we both know more about Harry Potter than is probably the norm.

Such knowledge comes in handy when it’s trivia time. Listen, there are few things in life of which I am certain, but Harry Potter is one of them, so when it came time for trivia, you better believe I was confident.

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Lauren and I knew we didn’t need anyone else on our team and we ended up taking down the rest of the (much more stocked) teams to be crowned champions.

I think it’s okay to gloat a little bit!

It was the cherry on top of a great week of relaxation and vacation!

Monday hit full force with an early wake-up call, but it means I had a far more productive morning than I would if I slept in too late. Here was my beautiful breakfast.

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I love vacation and the occasional indulgence it brings, but I am always so ready to get back into my typical eating and exercise habits. It’s amazing how much the food you eat affects so much of your life, from how you feel to how you look. I tried to be careful-ish, especially when it came to eating between meals (which I didn’t), as well as alcohol consumption, but I definitely didn’t deprive myself of some extra savory and sweet foods.

To help get back into that healthy eating flow, I planned my meals for the week ahead of time. Lots of fruits and veggies make up some well-rounded and nutritious meals, but with a heavy yum factor!

Monday’s lunch was inspired by an unplanned trip to Trader Joe’s. In my defense, I only went to the store next door to pick up a prescription, but it wasn’t ready yet, so I stopped in! Chicken tikka masala minus the rice because I wanted that piece of naan and sautéed spinach. It looked heaping when I tossed it in a pan, but alas, it shrinks down to a mouthful.

Dinner was kind of a beauty, including salad topped with the usual selection of veggies, balsamic, and feta. For protein, I cooked up Buzzfeed’s garlic parmesan chicken tenders, and zucchini to use up the rest of the mixture! On the side, greek yogurt, blueberries, and almonds for a hit of fat and some extra protein.

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A quick breakfast of a hard-boiled egg and cheesestick fueled my Tuesday morning workout, before I came home for a post-workout whole wheat protein waffle and berries.

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Lunch was already assembled, so I apologize for the ugliness of the picture. Packed up includes more of those chicken tenders and zucchini, a medley of carrots, celery, and red pepper with hummus, and Greek yogurt with raspberries and walnuts.

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Inspired in part by the workouts of Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, and Katie Ledecky, because let’s face it, they’re amazing, I decided to go lighter weight with a heavy focus on bodyweight exercises, and higher reps. I’m not too fond of high reps, but I’m looking to slim down and those exercises lead to it! I’m also upping my cardio, particularly with intervals running and sprinting on the bike, as well as jump roping.

Monday’s focus was on the chest, triceps, and shoulders, with a heavy dosage of core- all day every day! I can’t tell you how great it felt to be back in action! After my strength training, I jump roped, 1minute on, 30 seconds rest x 5, and hopped on the treadmill for a 20 minute workout, 2 minutes walking, 3 minutes running at a higher clip than I usually would for a longer run.

Tuesday’s objective included the back, lots of legs, and more core! For my cardio dosage, I took to the spin bike and cycled happily away. Right now, I like to ride in position one (flat on the seat) for 2 minutes, position two (standing up straight) for 2 minutes, then position three (hovering over the steering wheel) for 2 more minutes x 3 or 4 depending on how much time I have left.

On vacation, I took the entire week off from standardized exercise. I contemplated going on a run or two, but it was honestly super humid outside and I wasn’t feeling it. I wouldn’t normally suggest taking a whole week off, but I go hard 5-6 days a week and my body needed it. It helps me in particular because I know I’ll get right back to it once that week is up. Much of that no-exercise allowance is mental as much as it is physical.

Glad to be back to it!

Dobby’s Left Sock: Should Have Gone for the Right One Too

I know what you’re going to say: “You started this 80 Days of Strength thing, then let it fall apart on the second day.” I can’t promise that I’ll be able to update every day, but I will promise to share my strength with you the next time. I had very important business to take care of yesterday and starting work at 6:30 AM was only one of them.

Once I got out of work, it was time to make my way to pick up my sister, Lauren. I had a hankering for an iced coffee all day, so I made a brief stop. Once I scooped Lauren, it was off to meet my friends Katie and Erin so that we could stake out our spots for Harry Potter trivia.

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We were sitting at the bar for a good three hours before trivia even began. This was serious business. There is not much in this life that I can claim I know well, but Harry Potter is one of them. I think there were two questions total that we had no idea, but even in those, we were close. This happened before my annual reread too! At one point, Lauren pulled mimbulus mimbletonia out of the darkest recesses of her mind and I came up with kneazle with two seconds to spare. I can’t lie and say it didn’t feel good that we were in first place the entire time. Except for when it counted, of course.

Let me just assure you that Dobby’s Left Sock did not lose because we got the questions wrong. We lost in Sudden Death because we were not positive about the answer and we didn’t bet enough points. Of course those placed in second and third would risk more and we should have too. Turns out, we were right and we would have won. This is something that will haunt me to my grave. Go ahead and put on my tombstone, “Death by Ragnuk the Goblin playing with an Erumpet Horn.” I guess you had to be there. I’m so sorry we failed you JK Rowling, but Dobby’s New-and-Improved Left Sock will be back at it as soon as another trivia event comes up and you bet your house-elf, we will bet it all. And win.

I didn’t make it back home until after 11:00 PM and I went straight to bed, considering the disappointment. Did I mention it was for money? No, no. It’s fine. It’s all just fine. (It’s too bad you can’t see my sarcastic anger in this. I bet you can feel it.) It’s almost karmic because whenever I watch Jeopardy or other game shows, I get mad when people don’t bet it all and then end up losing. I didn’t follow my own rules!

Oh, but look! Look at what Harry Potter inspired me to do:

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So where did my strength come from yesterday? Having confidence in my ability to know and do something. This might sound silly, but dominating at Harry Potter trivia is a skill. It made me feel exceedingly nervous throughout because I am an impatient person, but having the (somewhat useless) knowledge is still having knowledge. And being able to play with my sister and friends, laughing and winning and losing by default on our own terms.

This morning, I made myself an egg, cheese, and chicken sausage breakfast sandwich that I enjoyed with a side of fruit, including half a banana and a scoop of almond butter. This kept me fueled for a few hours of work before I changed into my exercise clothes and worked off my energy in the gym. I added some fuel to the tank with a serving of roasted almonds and red grapes, which kept me going and feeling strong, but not pulled down.

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It was heavy strength day and I was feeling powerful. I hit a lot of highs in my weights, which included deadlifts, clean and presses, rows, squat presses, leg presses, and bench presses. For cardio, I focused on interval training: box jumps, jump rope, skater jumps, high knees, and lunges. I was still feeling strong, so I took it onto the mat for a core workout that made my abs feel sad. I worked through a circuit of push ups, grasshoppers, alternating ankle grabs, sit ups, and a move that combined hundreds and Russian twists into one (I don’t know why I do that to myself). My body wanted to hang out in a shoulder stand for awhile as well, so I did that along with a series of planks. My final piece of my workout for the day was ten minutes on the bike, four of which consisted of cycling as fast as I could for twenty seconds and resting for ten.

For lunch, I wanted to try something a little different. Here’s one of the recipes I was talking about wanting to make that I actually made! I chopped up a sweet potato and tossed it into a pan with garlic and olive oil. I dumped in a can of chickpeas followed by chopped red pepper and baby spinach. I finished things off with a sprinkling of red pepper flakes, coriander, and onion powder. Fun Fact! I don’t like the texture of onions (except for onion rings, which is embarrassing), but I can’t deny the flavor they bring to a dish. This was a nice compromise for me!

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My strength today came in the form of simply tossing a few ingredients together and creating something healthy and delicious. Healthy eating does not mean compromising taste and enjoyment. I suppose I should also say, my strength came in having the power to lift heavy things and put them down again without dropping them on myself (or someone else).

What do you say? Are you with me on this?

It’s Hard to Cook Without a Fully Functioning Kitchen

One of the perks I thought I was sure to enjoy after finishing my Master’s, was the ability and creative liberty to try out new recipes. This was prevented once the kitchen went under construction. No complaints here as I will be able to enjoy the benefits of a new kitchen shortly, though I probably won’t have as much free time then.

Anyways, for this Meals on Monday edition, I thought I did a lot better taking pictures of what I was eating, but I think I really just snapped my lunches and forgot about the rest of the meals. As you will see, my memory only alerted me to my mistakes halfway through eating the meals, so don’t think that I have been eating such small portions. Trust, I have a hearty appetite.

Breakfasts:

I have eaten quite a lot of peanut butter toast this week as I have limited use of technology in which to cook. This is hurtful because breakfast is my favorite meal and I like to concoct all sorts of different recipes throughout the week.

I had this at least four times this week, but with a little variety. Here we see my use of Peanut Butter and Co’s chocolate flavored products, Dark Chocolate and White Chocolate Wonderful with a smear of jelly on whole wheat sour dough and a side of fresh fruit.

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Other times you might see my toast topped with the same chocolate peanut butter but with coconut sprinkled on top and a banana on the side. I also enjoy using regular Teddie peanut butter, which I had yesterday morning for a more savory twist. Peanut butter is one of my favorite foods and as I write Meals on Monday more, you will see it included in almost all of my breakfasts and sometimes lunches.

For breakfasts this week, I also had a delicious “Italian Delight” egg breakfast with two poached eggs over mozzarella, tomato, and toast with a side of potatoes at a diner I went to with my sister Lauren. Forgot to take a picture, but it is something I will be making at home once that kitchen is running again.

A wonderful waffle I made in my waffle maker, duh, but the clean up was messy. Obviously, it was still worth it. The batter is the same as my peanut butter pancake recipe, topped with more peanut butter, jelly, and shredded coconut.

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One day, I also had a bowl of raisin bran with chopped banana and a coconut-blended Chobani, which is the best flavor of greek yogurt there is, mixed with blueberries.

Lunch:

A salad with arugula as the base, mixed with cucumbers, peppers, asiago cheese croutons, feta, and red beans with greek dressing. Nice and simple on a hot day!

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Another salad of arugula and baby spinach, cucumber, pepper, and feta cheese with italian dressing. I also had a chicken burger topped with a piece of pepper jack cheese on a whole wheat english muffin and a fruit bowl consisting of pineapple (my ALL-TIME favorite) and a few cherries (another favorite, but must be eaten carefully as I am semi-allergic, it’s a cruel world).

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Leftover salmon over a salad of spinach, peppers, tomato, and mozzarella with a side of buttered toast (not pictured).

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I did not snap a picture of my rice and chicken bowl filled with fresh veggies including zucchini (the first produce from my garden!!), summer squash, and red pepper because I was in the pool.

Saturday, I went to Harry Potter trivia with my friends Erin and Katie and though we didn’t place as we should have, it was still so much fun! I had my share of chips and salsa, margherita pizza, and Leininkugel Summer Shandy that I was pretending was butter beer.

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Yesterday, my sister came over for lunch and my mom grilled some turkey tips with a drizzle of honey BBQ sauce with more of my zucchini, summer squash, and peppers, corn on the cob, a side salad, and a piece of toast.

Dinner:

Salmon with summer squash, pepper, baby spinach, feta over brown and wild rice.

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We also had chicken kebobs one night skewered with zucchini, summer squash, and peppers (I guess you can tell what veggies we like best).

Another night was pasta with chicken sausage and spinach.

Thursday night, I had dinner with my friends Nouha and Sarah, which consisted of a Lebanese meat dish over rice and potatoes, made by her mother and it was fabulous. We also had a side of hummus with whole wheat pita and a sliver of Whole Foods cake.

On Friday, we had a girls night out, as my mom, sister, and I stopped for cheeseburgers and beer before the Red Sox game. Because I opted for a side salad instead of french fries at dinner, I enjoyed a twist cone during the game. I’d take ice cream over anything, any day, any time.

After trivia, I came home Saturday to find my aunts, uncles, and cousins over. Family time is the best time, whether we are sitting around the porch table laughing at ourselves and one another, roasting marshmallows, or hiding in the dark trying to freak each other out. We also ordered pizza because it seems to be a trend of every “party” (for lack of better term).

Finally, in honor of my Uncle Mike, who I appreciate for many reasons but mostly for his consistent reading of this blog, Gollum is still looking for his precious “ring.”